Dear Therapist,

I'm currently dating a very nice young man whom I met through my work at a garden center. He's the perfect gentleman, goes to church, is involved in the local music industry and is a very skilled gardener. But before we began dating he was fired from the garden centre because his neighbours had complained that he was working in a child friendly atmosphere. Thus the rumor mill at work started and some one googled him to find that he had been charged for having two pornographic videos of children and a couple of photos on his laptop two and a half years ago.

This came as a complete surprise to me, mainly because he seemed like the first genuinely good guy that I had been attracted to in years! Before all of this had happened people in my work had been trying to set us up as well. So I asked him about it and completely came clean about the whole thing and promised me that he was going to tell me before we went on a date or anything anyway because he's legally obligated to tell his probation officer everything he does and would have to inform me of his transgressions before dating me.

We talked about it a couple of times and told me about how he's been to counselling for two years and is a completely different person now and completely and utterly regrets downloading them because they've ruined his life and is constantly trying to make up for it everyday. He said that he looked them up out of pure curiousity and they completely sickened him and didn't do it for sexual gratification. And it says this in his court statement as well, which makes me want to believe him.

I've currently been going through some difficult emotional issues on my own due to a long history of depression and today his officer came by just to have a chat with me about him and to make sure that I knew the whole story, which I do. But the whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth and maybe it's just because it's much more real now. I know he's a great guy now, but I'm worried about whether or not he might have thoughts that he just suppresses out of training with psychologists or if he genuinely does not and has not ever felt that way towards children. I'm only 21 and certainly don't have children of my own or any relatives or friends that do have young children so I know he isn't getting close to me for any horrible reason like that and I think I'm falling in love with him. He's extremely caring and supportive and has helped me immensely through a very tough emotional time for me and stayed my friend even though I broke it off with him for a couple of weeks while I tried to get better because I didn't want to be distracted from getting better. And was supportive and stayed a great friend throughout that time.

Is this morally acceptable? I've always believed that people deserve second chances and while he did look at those things he's never had a sexual relationship of any kind before and was bullied as a kid so perhaps it might be an emotional issue from his childhood? I will be talking to him about it regardless but I felt like I needed an outsiders opinion to help me get my bearings straight.

Thank you,

Plane - Jane


2834 days ago
Hi Plane Jane,

just so you know, we're not therapists/doctors, just people who care about others. This is a difficult dilemma. I always thought a sexual offender means you sexually abused someone and a person with child pornography is charged with 'possession of child pornography.

I understand your logic, that everyone deserves second chances and I think that's very honorable of you to think this way. My only fear is: most people who view child pornography don't just lose the desire to stop. There's no way to prove he did this out of curiosity and ended up feeling disgusted. Naturally this would be an easy way out of a tough spot.

All I can say is - I would be very leery of getting seriously involved, especially if I ever wanted children. A normal person doesn't just one day say "hmmm I think I'll look up child pornography". In the end it's up to you, whether to date him. Maybe you should ask his parole officer a few more questions.

2834 days ago
I agree with Bella on this one Plane Jane. You don't know for sure if he is telling the truth or not. Also, like Bella said its kind of wierd that he would just one day all of a sudden go look at child pornography. I mean most of the people that I know wouldn't just out of the blue look up child pornography unless they were really messed up. I'm not saying that he isn't telling the truth it just seems wierd to me.

2833 days ago
Hi plane jane,

given all the hysteria around sex offenders and the legislatin that exists, it is very easy for someone to download child pornography, get charged with a sexual offence, without actually being sexually attracted to children. Having said that, there is almost no way of knowing for sure about the man your dating and getting serious about.

There are a number of things that concern me. You are recovering from a long history of depression, perhaps you are vulnerable at this point in time and not in the right space for a serious relationship.Perhaps it is wise to take things more slowly with this man. I think it is really important to get to know someone over a long period of time. It is easy to fall in love, but harder to make the right decision to act on these feelings. You say he is a kind, caring and compassionate man, and perhaps he is all these things. But how long have you been dating, how much about him do you really know. What about his family, what his friends, his future plans etc.

I think its important to slow things down before deciding to get serious with him. Socialise with others, include him in outings where there are other around. Explain to him that you are recovering from depression and that it is important for you to become independent in your life and that you care about him but do not want to rush into a serious relationship yet. I think it would be wise for him to take things slowly as well.

2832 days ago

I come to you with first hand experience. Like you, at a young, innocent age, I longed to meet a good man, a sincere, real man, and felt so blessed when I met X. He was open, honest, religiously sound, and everything I could have wanted. The only problem was his history, which sounds much like what you describe. He was very honest about it from the beginning, because there is no hiding something like that. He explained that he was not at all interested in children sexually, just as yours has done. He allowed me to have access to his counselor, his written confession to the police, and did a wonderful job of convincing me of what a very sincere man he was, and how this was all a huge misunderstanding on the part of the overactive police and social services department.

This is how sexual predators work! Rarely are they the smarmy, slick critters who stalk around in black while creepy music plays in the background. They are handsome, polite, productive members of society who make wonderful impressions on family and friends - and lonely, isolated women. Jane, he did not get himself into this position because of a mistake. He is where he is because he preys on the innocent and the helpless. The police do not arrest people who accidently find child porn. I can assure you, this man went searching for it, saved it, and enjoyed it. He is simply very good at convincing you - and himself - that it is all a huge mistake, just as X did with me. Ask anyone who has dealt extensively with sexual predators. This is their story. Nearly all of them.

My advice to you is to run as fast as you can in the other direction. You do not owe him explanations, simply let him know you are no longer interested and let it be. First of all, you do not need this dark shadow looming over your head and the heads of your future children. This will indeed effect your entire life and change it for the worse. In exchange, you will find yourself tethered to a man who has serious inner issues, and who has not the ability or the care to change it. You have buzzers and bells going off and red flags waving before you. Please do not ignore them. Please, do not listen to his words. Believe his actions alone. You truly are risking your life.

Because of the sensitive nature of my story, I cannot tell you how it has ended, but I beg of you to save yourself from this. I know you are lonely, and I know he seems to be everything you could ever want. Please observe the warnings and trust the facts, not the words. Your future happiness depends on it. Predators can sniff out a victim a mile away, and I can promise you, he sees you as his perfect victim. Please run. If you do not believe me, seek out the counsel of a professional [not your pastor, but a registered professional, such as a psychologist or an FBI agent or a policeman] who deals specifically with sexual predators. I wish you well and pray for strength and wide open eyes.

2832 days ago
While agreeing with everyone else, the answer to your question "Is it morally acceptable" would, to me, be "if you're okay with it, then yes." However, as everyone else is pointing out, that's probably not the most important question you should be asking.