The day we returned from our honeymoon was a Sunday. Let's face it, the honeymoon was far from relaxing. I had one thing on my mind. Let's get to the apartment, get the car unpacked, and get some food in the apartment. I had to leave for work at 7:00 a.m, and John had to begin looking for a summer job. It was time to get down to the reality of life!
Going to the apartment wasn't on John's agenda, though. John insisted that we go to evening church because they were having a box dinner -- a fellowship meal provided by the church -- and he didn't want to miss that. Really? Are you kidding? I'm a Christian. I love God. But, we had just spent a horrid week on the road and this was going to be a difficult week ahead. We had already gone to church in the morning in Dallas, and now he wanted to drive to church just in time for the fellowship meal. My argument was weak in his eyes, so off to church we went.
We met up with friends of ours who lived in Oklahoma City at the time and they had gotten married the day before we did. The other new groom was a friend of John's from Pennsylvania and they had attended church camp together for years so they had lots of reminiscing to do. I nibbled on my sandwhich and kept wishing we'd get a move on it. I had work to do and had a job to get to in the morning! Little did I know that John was already laying the groundwork to do "volunteer work as a church youth minister"! That tidbit of news would come to me a few days later.
We finally got home to our one room apartment. It was only temporary, so we were fine with that. Besides, we were newlyweds and I was actually looking forward to some alone time with my husband. So, we unpacked, put food in the fridge, and finally fell into bed exhausted. I know you're not going to believe this BUT you can research it for yourselves to check it out. On our first evening back in Oklahoma City, a tornado touched down on our street! That's right -- A TORNADO hit on the street where we lived! It snapped trees, downed electrical wires, knocked out phone lines and blew out our windows! We had a basement apartment, and this is one time I can say I am so thankful for that! Other than some flying glass and a few fearful screams, we were unharmed! I've often wondered if that tornado was an omen as to what our lives would be together in the years to come.
I went to work the next morning, and was glad to see the sun shining after such a frightful night. It would take the better part of two weeks to repair the damage that was done during that quick tornado touchdown, but other than that life was back to normal. Or so I thought.
John was to be job hunting while I was working. He had another year of college left which we weren't planning on. In his senior year, he decided to change his major from business to bible. An interesting choice, I thought, since the one thing he promised me he'd never do is to be a preacher! I wanted nothing to do with being a preacher's wife because of the demands and scrutiny that comes to preachers' families. He promised he'd NEVER be a preacher. He didn't promise he'd never be a volunteer youth minister, though. I was in for a few more surprises!
Job hunting wasn't going so well, John said. BUT, who could get upset about that when you come home to a freshly cleaned apartment, a lovely ironed tablecloth on our card table, and a vase of roses? Now, this is more like it! This is more how a wife should be treated! "Where'd you get the gorgeous bouquet of flowers?", I asked. His answer was spoken with a sneery grin. "If you only knew!" Okay, that peaked my curiosity. I wondered how much he paid for that huge vase of roses. They were gorgeous!!!
"I swiped them off of a gravesite at the cemetery on my way home."
I'll be honest with you. It's hard for me to write this and not cry and it is now forty-three years later. The first flowers I received from my husband were stolen from somebody's gravesite -- and he saw absolutely nothing wrong with that! In fact, he made me feel like a total fool for calling him out on that!
Listen to me, and listen good! This is not normal behavior. This is not kind behavior! This is not the way a man should treat a woman under any circumstances! He was a theif. He was dishonest. Do you see what was happening? He was pushing me down into the ground just a little bit lower with each blow to the heart. Once again, I was being tested. Would I throw the flowers at him? Would I have a crying fit? Would I stay upset and angry? Not on your life. He knew me all too well. Instead, I thanked him for having the apartment looking so nice and for having flowers on the table. How sad for me to say that I already thought so little of myself to accept this cruel treatment.
Pedophiles are masters of deception. John would later brag about how he had gotten me "fresh flowers" the first week we were married, and how he had the place all cleaned up for me, wedding gifts put away, etc., so that I could take it easy when I got home from work. That sounds great to someone who didn't know the whole truth. In fact, some of the young married women at church told me they wished their husbands could learn a thing or two from John about how to treat them. They didn't see the thick mask of lies and deceit he was wearing and neither did I. It's true -- love is blind, especially when you've been conditioned to stop thinking you have any worth or value and all you deserve in this life is crumbs -- or in my case stolen flowers from someone's gravesite. I shudder with pain, shame, and embarrassment as I write these words!
I went to work early every day and didn't get home until six. John's only thing on the agenda for him was to find some kind of summer job. Honestly, in a city as large as Oklahoma City jobs were to be found everywhere. But, he said he drove miles and miles every day looking for a job, but there was "nothing." So, he came up with a very bright idea. "What would you think if I volunteered as a youth minister for a while? You know -- spend time at the church, help plan youth activities, and get my feet wet since this is what I want to do after graduating?"
I argued that we needed the money he could make if he had a job. I wasn't making enough for both of us on a secretary's salary. He argued that we didn't need extra money. He reminded me that we had saved our honeymoon money. Ahhh......the plan! How ingenious of him! He already knew he wasn't going to get a paid job! That's why he wouldn't let loose of that money. Great planning on his part, wouldn't you say?
Pay attention again! Pedophiles spend hours and hours and hours planning out the smallest of details. They will not leave one stone unturned. I had no clue what was going on, but the foundation for a lifetime of molesting children with a wife by his side was being laid. *Note: By John's admission, he molested the first child when he was fourteen years of age. His preference was young girls, although his molestation did include older girls.
Our church had a wonderful program where adults could mentor children who came from a very poor part of the city. These children grew up in extreme poverty, they lacked loving parents, alcohol ran rampant among the adults and teenagers, and the kids had no way of getting out and having fun except through this volunteer program.
And, so we became mentors to a little girl. Every Sunday afternoon John would drive an hour one way to pick up this little girl and an hour back to deliver her home. Together we would feed her a great meal -- anything she wanted. We played games with her or let her watch TV which was a big treat for her. And, we also took her to church with us in the evening.
Two strange things were happening, though. In fact, strange enough that I actually was jealous of the attention John was giving this little girl. He got giddy with her. It was like he turned into a different person. Around me he was quiet -- very quiet, in fact. It was torture trying to get him to speak in whole sentences to me. But when Susan was around -- there was a totally different side of John that I saw! He cracked jokes. He did tricks. He made funny faces. He gave horse back rides. (RED FLAG!!!!) And, he always insisted on two things: 1) He wanted some money when taking Susan home so that he could buy her a snack or small toy and 2) He insisted that I stay home and rest up for work rather than go on the drive to take Susan home.
I'm sick as I write this for fear of what happened to Susan on those long rides home alone with John. She was already beaten down as a child. She was living in horrible conditions. Was she ever going to say "no" to getting away from that in exchange for a great meal, a fun afternoon away, and a special treat each week? Not on your life! John has never admitted to doing anything to her. And, quite frankly, I've never asked. In fact, I haven't spoken to him since his imprisonment. But, I think about Susan and all of the other little Susans out there who have been in the hands of a child molester and my heart weeps. Deep, painful weeping. It's so, so wrong! It's all so very wrong!
John did tons of pastoral youth volunteer work that summer. More about that next week. He read faithfully from the bible. He could quote Scriptures far better than I ever could. He never raised his voice at me. I never heard him swear. He was articulate in keeping himself neat and clean. He loved to sing hymns and could really belt out the base in church. But, he didn't pay attention to the words of God in Matthew 18:6. Somehow he overlooked that verse. Somehow, those words didn't matter. Somehow, those holy words were not holy to him. He was spic-and-span clean on the outside. He wore a lovely mask. But inside things were terribly, terribly wrong. I sensed something wasn't right, but I had no clue what was going on! Back then, NOBODY talked about molesting children. In fact, I'm ashamed to say that until John was arrested I didn't know what pedophila was! Education is so very important! We must -- we absolutely must -- arm ourselves and our children with good, solid education about child molesters!
Again, pay attention, please! If your mate is spending more time with children than with you, something is wrong! If your mate can converse easier with children than with you and other adults something is wrong! If you know an adult who volunteers his time with children when he/she should or could be working a job and the family needs the money something is wrong! These are all big red flags!! Please read and re-read this over and over again until it sinks in!
Some of you might be asking yourselves why I didn't question John more if something felt so wrong? Why did I stay home when he drove that little girl home? Why didn't I put my foot down and make him get a job that summer? Why did I allow him to change his major from business to bible?
Why? I'll tell you why! He was masterful at knowing just how to manipulate me. Every child molester will tell you the biggest thrill is not the sex or the horrible actions with the children that give them the biggest thrill. It's the fact that they're getting away with it -- often right in front of a trusting adult's eyes! It's the control. There is a rush -- a bloody rush -- that a pedophile gets when they are in control! And, I fell perfectly into place. I wanted nothing more than to avoid fighting. My parents fought like cats and dogs. They were horrible together and I would do anything to avoid a home life like that!
I was the pefect mate for a pedophile! I asked no questions. I trusted. And, I covered up the half-truths. I didin't want others to see the "off side" of my husband. After all, a good Christian wife didn't air her dirty laundry, right? Oh, how wrong one can be while thinking we are so right!
I will close with one final thought today. Somewhere we have gotten the idea that child molesters are creepy people who hide in dark alleys, have nasty beards, dress shabby, and are serial rapists who have escaped from prison. That is a huge misconception and needs to be corrected!
Most often, child molesters are trusted members of the church, the family, and the community.
Please read that above statement over a thousands times if you must. The molesters will tell you that they planned, they worked hard to "groom", they manipulated, and they got away with it! And, the biggest thrill of all was knowing that they were respected and loved by the very families of the children they molested.
Stick with me on this.....follow this story and learn from me. I didn't know what signs to look for. I had no idea what was going on. I was not equipped with the proper education, and sadly this is true for most people. We have a huge responsibility. We have children to protect -- innocent, beautiful children!
Together, we can do it! Help me stop the predators in their tracks!
If you have questions you'd like addressed, please post them and I'll try my best to answer. It is my hope and prayer that my pain with become your strength! I pray that together we will be educated and empowered and that we will have the courage and strength to act on our knowledge.
Next week I will share with you how rapidly things happend that would fling the door wide open and pave the way for a lifetime of child molesting with me right by the molester's side.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being brave enough to educate yourself. Thank you for sharing this information -- for the children!