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Jude's avatar

Question about sexual abuse; what should I do?

Asked by Jude (31993 points ) April 10th, 2009

My cousin contacted me today through Facebook. She told me that a person on my friend’s list was the same guy that molested her niece along with many other kids in their neighbourhood years ago. Turns out that this guy is my ex girlfriend’s (who I was with for 10 years) brother. He is now 31, married and has two kids. The abuse happened when he was a teenager and was babysitting other young kids.

I remember when my ex and I were together, she had mentioned something about her brother ‘getting in trouble for doing something to a young child while babysitting’. And, really, that’s all that I remember her saying. When I talked to my cousin today, she said that “he got away with it because he was a young offender, but was ordered to go to counseling”. Now, here she is coming to me all worried about his kids, thinking that he may have done or is doing something to them. She is really upset by all of this. Apparently, he did some pretty awful things to the girls that he had babysat. I get the feeling that she wants to me approach my ex and talk to her about it. I wouldn’t even know what to say, if I were to talk to her about it. What should I do?

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21 Answers

willbrawn's avatar

Tell the authorities and get people involved. Doing nothing will cause more issues.

kevbo's avatar

If the actions weren’t as severe as you intimate, I would say without question to let things lie. It’s in the past and it was a different era that wasn’t so hyped about pedophilia (as far as I remember). Not that makes it any less wrong, but it does affect how these things are handled.

My second inclination is to ask if there’s evidence of current abuse and to let things lie if there isn’t, but again given the supposed severity of past actions it’s difficult to justify waiting until something bad happens. Still, I would suspect that your cousin’s reaction is primarily driven by past memories than any current event.

How has your ex regarded him? Do you believe she’s given him a pass because he’s her brother or that she is sufficiently informed and feels no genuine need for concern? I’m no expert, but I think it’s possible for people to outgrow adolescent behaviors. If she’s given him a pass, by the way, then you will likely be confronted with her state of denial.

I guess what’s shaking out for me is that unless you feel this is something you’re clear on, you should tell your cousin to contact your ex (or whomever) herself. She’s an adult, obviously, and there’s nothing preventing her from contacting another adult and having an adult discussion. There’s really no need for you to share the responsibility unless you feel it’s a cause you want to take up as well.

Darwin's avatar

At this point it is all speculation. I don’t think there is anything you can do without any evidence that he has continued his activities. If you should ever meet the kids and they show signs of abuse, then you can report it to CPS, but otherwise this is just supposition with no support.

I suppose the only even remotely possible action at this point is if you happen to run across your ex someday, you could maybe bring up her brother and ask how he and his kids are doing these days. You could explain that you remember her comment about him ‘getting in trouble for doing something to a young child while babysitting’ and had recently run across someone who knew him back then.

However, it would be best to either turn this back onto your friend and tell her to contact your ex to ask about him, or just leave sleeping dogs lie unless something makes your alarms go off. If you choose to do something you need to be very careful because if he has changed you could ruin his life, and he in turn could sue the daylights out of you.

Juvenile records are closed because sometimes kids do outgrow inappropriate behavior as the reach maturity.

RedPowerLady's avatar

ditto @Darwin response

There are a lot of considerations here. Unless you have specific reasons to believe this man is hurting his children then there isn’t much you can legally do. And if he has changed then you could be making things worse for his children instead of better. If you have a chance to be around his children then keep an eye open for odd behaviors so you will have something to report to CPS (child protective services). You could also keep him as a friend on Facebook and look for odd statements he makes or odd pics he puts up etc.. Even ask him how things are going if you wanted to get that far into it. But beyond that there isn’t much to do. Your cousin could call CPS if she is really worried and ask them to check into it but they aren’t likely to follow through without some kind of proof that something is going on. All we can do as a society is look out for the safety of these children. Just keep our eyes and ears open and if ANY red flags come up then make a report and keep making them until something is done. I might also recommend that your cousin go through some extra counseling. It seems that this is, rightly so, bringing up some very difficult issues for her.

robmandu's avatar

So… lemme get this straight.

Your cousin recently told you via Facebook post about how your ex-girlfriend’s brother had gotten in trouble for messing around with some kids around 15 years – half his lifetime – ago.

Your only corroboration is a half-remembered, non-detailed conversation with your ex-girlfriend a while back when you were still dating.

And you want to know what to do about it now that he has a family of his own just because your cousin is freaking out?

Man, let it go. That way madness lies.

Jude's avatar

@robmandu that’s what I mean. My cousin came to me with this and I’m thinking “how am I supposed to react to this?” I think that the best thing (like someone had said above) is for my cousin to contact my ex (if she chooses to). I really don’t know what she (my cousin) would want/expect me to do, you know?

Darwin's avatar

@jmah – Have you asked your cousin what she wants you to do? If it seems unreasonable, tell your cousin you can’t do that but suggest they contact your ex directly or simply lend a listening ear.

Jude's avatar

@Darwin My cousin was all upset when I had talked to her. Her main concern is for his two girls. She wanted me to somehow bring up with my ex girlfriend, my ex’s brother abusing kids in the past and she said that I should tell my ex to keep an eye on her nieces. Like I said, she is obviously pretty emotional with all of this. And, really, when I think about it, it doesn’t make sense for me to talk to my ex. My ex knows what had happened in the past and if she were to suspect anything that is happening now, she would be the first to report him. She rarely sees her brother and I never see him. Like I said, my cousin just came to me all upset and I didn’t know how to deal with her. It’s such a difficult/sensitive issue.

TaoSan's avatar

well normally I’m all for pliers and blow torches, but this is really not “actionable”.

Let it go….

robmandu's avatar

Now, if we were talking about my brother (or other close relative), I’d probably have to take it on myself to ensure that he was fully open and upfront about his past with his (now) wife back when they got engaged. She should definitely know. And he should definitely tell her.

But that’s me. And would’ve been back then.

For now, for this, there’s nothing to do.

Lefty_the_space_monkey's avatar

Honestly this sounds like some moral panic to me.

When he was fifteen or sixteen he got in trouble for doing something horrible, okay.

And now he’s 31, and there are no signs that he’s actually doing anything wrong?

It just seems completely ridiculous and officious to try to act in any way in this situation. Especially if the people around him already know about his history.

hug_of_war's avatar

If you tell your ex, it won’t really accomplish anything. I mean she already knows about his past. And even if someone did call CPS, what are you going to say? There’s a possibility that a guy who got in trouble for abusing fifteen years mightt be doing it again based purely on the fact he’s a father now? There’s not much you can say or do.

filmfann's avatar

Be very careful! Peoples lives can be ruined in any direction you go!

cwilbur's avatar

You’re hearing all of this third-hand, and you have no direct evidence of any of it. It’s not your place to do anything; if your cousin is wrong, and you do something, the blame falls on you, not on her.

The most you should do is put her in contact with your ex.

3or4monsters's avatar

Your cousin’s heart is in the right place, but her suggestions on the actions to take are totally inappropriate. While it’s not uncommon for sex offenders to remiss on their recovery and abuse again, if he has in fact been rehabilitated, any actions taken could potentially ruin his family.

We all know the saying: what is the road to hell paved with?

If you were their neighbor or a family member, it would be different, because you are closer to the situation thus easier to use discretion to find out if there is any wrongdoing. But this is not the case. Having to go through each person in your 6° of separation to check up on the children is NOT discrete or handling this delicately at all, and that is what the situation needs.

Randy's avatar

If there is no evidence that he is doing anything wrong, then he probably isn’t. Even mafia bosses get caught. Everyone eventually leaves behind a clue.

You seem to have a good idea of what to do based off all the other suggestions so that’s all I’ll say about it.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Rule #1: STAY OUT OF HEARSAY DRAMA. Tell your cousin to message the guy directly and say she recognized him. You stay out of it. unless your life is going so well, it needs a little uproar in it.

“They always shoot the messager.”

filmfann's avatar

Rule #1 is you don’t talk about fight club…

Lefty_the_space_monkey's avatar

@filmfann
I thought that was /b/?

Jude's avatar

I talked to my cousin and we both agreed that she should drop it. I think what it was is that she saw his picture on my Facebook and that set her off. Thanks for your responses.

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