True Story: My Mom Had A Baby With A Serial Rapist

This is one of many True Story interviews, in which we talk to people who have been through interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of “Jemma” and her mum – who dated, lived with and had a baby with a man who was eventually convicted as a serial rapist. Rape (and family) are obviously very, very sensitive subjects; please keep your comments respectful.Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a 32 year old woman from Melbourne, Australia. My father passed away when I was very young and my mum, my younger sister and myself moved in with my maternal grandparents. I always thought we were a fairly normal white collar family (apart from loosing my dad). I later learned that Mum was a bit of a lost soul and was suffering from a drug addiction during those early years of my life. But please understand that I only have fond memories of growing up with her and we were always well-fed and housed, we went to a good school and Mum always had a job. Mum has since sorted herself out.

How did your mum meet this man?
Mum grew up in the music industry, hanging out with bands and going to gigs. Years before she met my Dad, she met Peter, he was in a band with some of her friends. It was probably around eight years after Dad’s passing that she met back up with Peter and started a relationship. Peter had been in and out of prison all his life for petty crimes like small burglaries, not paying fines etc. This wasn’t all that big a deal to Mum, as many of the people she spent time with lived that kind of life. It was the 70’s and early 80’s, after all!

Do remember meeting him for the first time?
I don’t remember meeting Peter, but I do remember my grandparents hated him. Mum and them had some terrible fights over the whole situation, so much so that we moved out of their house and rented a house with Peter.

How old were you when you moved in with him? How was living with him?
I was about nine when we found a place to rent, andI remember him being very inconsistent. One day, he might spoil us rotten with junk food and toys, letting us stay up really late to watch movies. The next day he might ground us for 2 weeks and ban us from television because we took 25 minutes to get home from school rather than the usual 20 minutes. Or he’d scream at us for not understanding our Math homework.

Even when he was spoiling us though, he always creeped me out. I remember several occasions when he was inappropriate, asking me to hold hands “like lovers” or “kiss like lovers”. (which I must add, I never did, and he never forced me to). Around a year into living with Peter, Mum fell pregnant, and I can remember being ecstatic about the prospect of having a baby in the house.

Can you tell us how he got caught? Where he was arrested?
He was convicted of a crime due to DNA evidence. I personally don’t know how that came about, but I do remember the day he was arrested like it was yesterday. I was on my way home from school camp. When we got to school no one was there to pick me up. Eventually a lady came to get me, I can’t remember if it was a police woman or one of Mum’s friends, but she took me to the car and Mum was there crying, unable to speak.

Mum had been on her way to drop my sister at school when she encountered a police road block. The road block was set up for her. They asked where Peter was and she told them he was at home. They took Mum and my sister to a police station and other police were sent to arrest Peter at our house. Our house was consequently raided and absolutely everything was messed up, even my bedroom. I came home from camp to find the contents of my wardrobe and drawers all over my floor, my bed and mattress leaning up against the wall, even my posters ripped from my walls.

Were you and your mum surprised by the accusations?
I was only ten and my sister even younger so we were shielded from much of the fall out, and I only really learned of the accusations in later years. I remember being sent to my room every night for weeks afterward so that I didn’t see the news or current affairs programs. Mum obviously had no idea of what Peter had done and in her defense, the rapes all happened during the years that Peter and my Mum were not in contact. I, to this date, don’t know if Mum didn’t believe the accusations or if it was a case of love being blind or the fact that she was carrying his baby. She stood by his side through out the court cases and remained with him for several years afterward. I do have very vivid memories of Mum crying he self to sleep for a long, long time.

How did he respond to the accusations?
I don’t actually know if he plead guilty or not, or if he ever admitted his guilt, but he was found guilty. I remember him being very cocky about it all, and life in general, he was never afraid to speak in a sexual manner, even in front of my sister and I. When he was released there was a huge outrage as he showed no remorse or signs of rehabilitation.

Your mum was carrying this man’s child. How did she feel about having a child with a rapist?
I know that it was an amazingly lonely time for Mum. The pregnancy was far too advanced to abort, and I doubt she would have anyway. Her parents no longer spoke to her and she was totally alone during the labor and birth. I think that she felt it was the baby’s right to know her father and Peter’s right to know his daughter, so for years they remained together and my sisters and I spent a significant amount of our childhoods in prison visitors’ yards.

Does the child know who their father is? Have you and your mum ever discussed her decision regarding the baby?
My sister is now 21, she knows who her dad is and what he did and why he was absent for much of her life. A few years ago they met up and my sister decided from that meeting that she wanted nothing more to do with him. So far he has respected her decision. I’ve never discussed Mum’s decision with her for fear of upsetting her. Everything I know about what Peter did I have learned from newspapers and good old Google!

How has this experience effected you?
To be honest, it has effected me a great deal. It has, without a doubt, shaped my life. I have huge intimacy issues, probably because the first I ever learned about sex was rape. I can’t relate to men and really only have one or two male friends, I keep almost everything to myself (possibly learned from watching Mum keep everything to herself) In a way, I’m thankful (for want of a better word) for the experiences of seeing inside a variety of prisons from low to high security, police stations and court yards conversations with prison guards and police and criminals and their families, I’ve had hardened criminals push me on a swing, I’ve had police officers look after me when Ive had a blood nose, I’ve seen contact visits and “box” visits, I’ve been security screened, I’ve had my whole life layer out on the front page of a news paper and as the top story on the evening news.

In other words, I’ve experienced things that most of my friends, for that matter, most people I know, could never even imagine. In the end, if none of this ever happened, I wouldn’t have my little sister, and I would live this all over again 100 times in order to have her, I can’t imagine life with out her.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story, I never have done before (even my friends have never heard it before) I’d be more than happy to answer any questions that might come up. All I ask is that my Mum isn’t judged too harshly, I’m sure she regrets many of her decisions, but no one knows how they’ll truly react until put in that situation. She has since done an amazing job of turning her life around, shes been clean for many, many years, has married a wonderful guy, she bought up three healthy, intelligent girls, who know right from wrong, she’s worked her way up to the top of a multi-million dollar business and put that life well behind her.

Have you ever dated someone with a checkered past? Any (respectful!)questions for Jemma?

15 Comments

Rio

This is amazing, you should be so proud of your mum and you sisters. I've dated people with very dodgy backgrounds, but when you love someone, you love them in spite of their faults, however irational that may be. It sounds like your mum always put her children first though, tried to do what was best for them, and you have obviously had to be very strong. Thankyou for sharing, it can't have been easy x

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ashlie elizabeth:

A story that is riveting and told in a strong and respectful way. I wish nothing but strength and happiness to your mother and your sisters, and, of course, you. Thank you for sharing.

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Fi

Amazing story, just one point – I would remove the "## person in ## to be convicted on DNA evidence" – very easy to google who that was, and that could lead to an invasion of privacy of her family

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Beth

Thanks for sharing your story.

I'm doing a forensic psychology course at the moment which also touches on how ordinanry people percieve those who have been convicted of crimes, so the third from last paragraph got me wondering…how do you think all that childhood exposure to convicted criminals has coloured your view of people who end up in prison? Do you think you view them more sympathetically as you have spent time amongst them rather than just hearing about them though the media? Or have all of your experiences made you more wary/scared of the concept of criminals?

Sorry my question has deviated from the main point of the story a little, but that bit just made me wonder.

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mylifereinvented

What a powerful story. It was really interesting to read how your mom stayed with Peter even after being convicted. May I ask when she left him? Thank you for sharing this.

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Jenny

wow, what a remarkable experience. What I most came away with was your strong resiliency, actually both yours and your family's. Kudos to your mom for the person that she is – it is what propelled her kids to turn out the great way that they did. Best wishes to you all and thank you for being willing to put your story out there for us.

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Starling

Jemma, thanks for sharing your story. Your mom's strength in raising you and your siblings – through what must have been an incredibly rough time for her – is amazing. I also appreciate your comment about the kind gestures from prisoners and guards alike. It's a lovely reminder about the complexity and sweetness found in others.

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Rebekah

It sounds like you, your mother, and sisters are becoming "strong at the broken places," as Hemingway wrote. What a brave family!

This reminds me not to complain so much about my problems. There are much harder lives out there.

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Michelle

What an intense story. I can't imagine how anyone could judge your mom for what happened; it seems like none of this was her fault. It must have been so hard though, so good for her for getting through it. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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Anonymous

Hi Guys, I'm so sorry, I only just realised that my story was even published (Sarah had told me 11/3, so when my story didnt come up, I went searching!) Thank you all so much for reading, and caring 🙂

Beth – I would say the opposite really, I'm more inclined to have no sympathy for criminals, it annoys me when I hear of them complaining, but more than anything, I HATE people that brag about being in jail.

mylifereinvented – My sister would have been about 6 or 7 i think. Mum ended up meeting a really great guy through her work, I think she just started paying more attention to that relationship and the one with peter just dwindled away.

Lady Viviane Mae – Mum hasn't (to my knowledge) I do sporadically, gee, the rest of that question is going to need some thinking! I'll get back to you on that! to be honest, I'm not sure I'm even there yet!

Lovers, Saints & Sailors – EXACTLY!

Thank you all so much for your kind words

Reply

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