My Alarming Encounter With a Child Predator

target signAfter years of being left behind by the adults, my daughter had finally been invited to a wedding right along with her parents. It was supposed to be a fairy tale night. And then the child predator showed up.

He wasn't invited. Or, I should say, the bride and groom didn't specifically invite kids and a pedophile to the same wedding. The pervert was a "plus one," a guest of a guest, and moms like me had no warning that he was coming, or even that he was there for quite some time.

In fact, it wasn't until my daughter and a friend's had met and become instant besties, running off to challenge one another in an age-old game of "chase," that my friend's mother motioned me over. I always wondered what they meant in books when they said that a character's stomach dropped.

It sounds so dramatic, doesn't it?

It's exactly what happened when she said the words "child predator." I felt like an extra dose of gravity had just landed on my chest and was pushing things down toward my feet. I was scared. And then I was angry. I wanted to know who. I wanted to know why. I wanted to know how.

And I wanted to know where my daughter was. NOW.

She was fine. Is fine. I should tell you that right now, because I know you're worried. No, the sicko never got near her because for the rest of the night, the little girls were tag-teamed by caring adults, my husband and I among them.

We kept our eyes rapt on the girls as they boogied on the dance floor. We assigned one parent to take them outside to blow off some kid steam without bothering the adults. And we clenched our hands in tight fists as we watched the man sit just one table away from where our daughters danced, enjoying his dinner, enjoying his company, enjoying his freedom.

Every time he looked at the dance floor, I cringed. Was he staring at my daughter? He was, wasn't he? What was he thinking? He'd better NOT be thinking!

It went on and on.

I don't think I took a full breath of air until he left that night. I was torn between a desire to grab my child and run with her straight to our car and drive as fast as I could away from that man and the desire to let her live out a little girl's fairytale. She had already told me the bride looked like a princess in a tone so reverential it was as though she worried speaking louder would pop the bubble of magic floating through the air. If I took her out of there, I reasoned, I would be letting the creep win. I would ruin her night, and for what? There was no way we were going to let him touch her anyway.

I'm glad the reasonable side of me won out, but I won't say the experience hasn't changed my parenting.

I have always had a fear of pedophiles; the same fear I think any parent has. I check the sex offender registry, and I know where the predators in our general area are located. But this was the first time I had to face how helpless we are as parents. Five seconds before someone told me there was danger in our midst, I'd been oblivious. All it took were the words child predator, and I was suddenly on high alert. My whole day had changed on a dime.

We are conditioned to freak when we hear those words, when we find a new face on the registry. But it isn't the predators we know about who represent the danger to our kids. Those we can watch out for. It's the predators we don't know about who are truly terrifying.

What would you do if you encountered a child predator in public?


Image via quapan/Flickr

safety

83 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

IKnow... IKnow0101

I'm just wondering how did you know he was a pedophile?  Why was he at the wedding?  Honestly this may not be a nice thing to do but I view everyone as pedophile (woman or man) and potential kidnapper.  I'm not obsessive about but I don't trust anyone I don't know and even a few people I do know.  I don't keep my children in  a bubble but we take precautions.

RMT1995 RMT1995

I just watched a Lifetime movie the other night about a girl who was kidnapped from a mall so this topic has been on my mind. Gone are the days where the worst thing that could happen was that some childless couple would take your kid and raise them as their own because they couldn't have any! Now the outcomes are so much more evil. Being a parent is physically exhausting the first few years, then it just changes to mentally exhausting. 

tbruc... tbrucemom

I'm curious to know how the other guest knew the person was a child predator if he was a guest of a guest?

jalaz77 jalaz77

Honestly, it depends. That list is pretty messed up. Not everyone on there is a monster. You never said what he did. Did you ask the person who made it a point to let you know about this predator what he did to put him on that list? I don't judge til I hear why anymore. Would I let my kid go off with him? No. Would I keep a close eye on my running kid a party like this even if a known predator wasn't around? Yes.

puasa... puasaurusrex

I'm wondering what you define as "child predator"? I mean, the term is used so ambiguously these days. Did he actually harm a child or did he have sex with a 16 year old when he was 18?

nonmember avatar Treva

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jonathan-James-Hartman-sentenced-to-70-years-in-Prison/157715264242414

Jeannette Cea Queen

If you are calling him a child predator then it makes one think he has been convicted.....otherwise you are just assuming he is and you know what they say when you assume....BUT if he is a convicted predator he violatd his parole or probation.....they are NEVER allowed near children, EVER so so someone should have reported him or asked him to leave!

Angela Lacey

Jeannettte, you are forgetting the third possibility, the fearful ladies who knew he was a predator may have themselves may have been "touched" by this loser.  He may never have been arrested, convicted, or done time. This was the case with a family friend, church leader, well respected married man with three sons who was responsible for abusing my sister and I when we were little. PS, in my case, he was finally found out and lost his standing in the church, his wife though is standing by his side and refuses to believe he is guilty. I, for one, am glad he only had sons, since he like little girls.

AnikaT AnikaT

did someone go on the megan's law website to confirm this 'predator's' identity? he may have been a wrongly accused person.... someone trying to create drama.....


 

Lauren Wasinger

Wow, you got REALLY worked up over a piece of gossip. I'm sorry, but how do you know for sure that he was a child predator? Was that his lawyer who called you over to chat. Honestly, you would have been watching your kiddo anyway, right? So why this drama over a rumor someone told you that may or may not have actually been true? Since you give zero details, it's hard for me not to view this as massively over-reacting.

1-10 of 83 comments 12345 Last
F