Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is ‘Jennifer’. I’m 27 years old, from a city in the southeast US. I’m a grad student, a poet, and I’ve worked as a cashier, book reviewer, tutor, receptionist, and actress. I love dinner parties, water balloon fights, board games, and picnics. I have two younger brothers. We grew up lower middle class.
He’s bilingual, well-traveled, gregarious, loves the outdoors and spontaneous adventures, big into community service, well educated, loves philosophical discussion and puns, and an avid reader of The New Yorker. He grew up upper-middle class and was working his way up through the ranks of a big company when he quit one day to start his own business.
What is your parents’ relationship like?
My parent’s relationship was always tense, and now it’s near non-existent. My mom is practical, hard-working, and affectionate whereas my dad is an emotionally-distant dreamer. I don’t know what they were like when they got married, but I’m surprised they lasted as long as they did (almost 30 years). They didn’t fight in front of us but they were constantly on the verge of divorce.
How did he get into producing child pornography?
Honestly, I don’t know. Until he was arrested a few years ago none of us had any idea he was doing anything like that. When we first heard he was arrested we all assumed it was for something like tax fraud. If I had to guess, I’d have to say it was a combination of trying to avoid leaving a trail and his interest in amateur photography.
Do you believe your dad is a pedophile?
But! Being a pedophile doesn’t mean he’s not human. I hear that a lot. I understand it makes it easier to deal with the horror of what they’ve done if you say or believe that, but I’m sorry to say it’s just not true. My father is a human being. He gives good advice and generous birthday gifts, doesn’t wear sandals, cooks well, loves the mountains, and is a pedophile. It’s just the way life is. I wish like hell that last bit weren’t there, but it is, and my family and I have to deal with that.
How was the child pornography production discovered?
Someone saw him taking photographs of children skinny-dipping. The ensuing investigation uncovered the rest. He’s been in some sort of jail or prison since that day.
How did you and your family react to this
Initially, we were in shock. I threw up.
The FBI seized my dad’s business and a few personal items. Even though I think it was right that my dad was arrested, I’ve lost trust in government police agencies. My brothers, on the other hand, are both currently working toward becoming members of our local police force.
What was the trial like?
I distanced myself from the details on purpose, so I have only the vaguest idea. I can say it was long, complicated, and exceedingly stressful. He faced state and federal charges, so there were actually two trials, back to back. He confessed right away when he was arrested or else I’m sure it would have dragged out for years. He was sentenced to a total of about 16 years.
My own life mostly continues as though he’s dead. I even went through the stages of grief.
The arrest itself, and hearing that he had confessed, was much harder than the sentencing. In a way, the sentencing was a relief because it offered a sense of closure.
Do you think that this has affected your feelings about sex or relationships at all?
Yep. While I have a healthy sex drive and stopped engaging in risky behavior immediately after my dad’s arrest (yay!), I’m extremely hesitant to tell my sex partner about my personal fetishes (which aren’t even abnormal or unusual). I haven’t been able to start, much less maintain, a serious romantic relationship, and I’ve severed ties with a handful of close friends and lots of acquaintances. It’s harder for me to make friends, too.
What advice would you give to others who have parents who engage in illegal, unethical behavior?
Find support of some kind, whether it’s friends, family members, an online support group, or a psychiatrist.