This is really a question I kinda know the answer to, I just… I dunno, I’m hoping some Solomon will show up and give me the precise correct thing to say to my friend.
Like the title says, my friend, uh, let’s call her Shelley, has been involved with this guy, “Rick,” for like… many years. Gotta be at least five now; it was before I ever knew her so I’m not sure of the details.
Shelley is a sweet young woman (mid-twenties) who’s lived a sheltered life and lives in Tinytown, Illinois, which to me, the way she describes this place, is sort of a combination of the town in The Lottery and an Amish village. Super-small, super-religious (but not Amish), and super-everyone’s-so-nice-but-they-secretly-hate-each-other. She adores kids and has been working as a babysitter and child-care/nursery school teacher for a few years now.
From all my dealings with Rick (which have been solely via email/phone), he seems like a normal, smart, nice guy. Except for one big thing that I only know because Shelley told me and I subsequently looked his name up: he’s a self-acknowledged pedophile (by which I mean he acknowledges the mental illness), and was convicted of sexual assault against a minor about ten years ago. This he does not acknowledge; that is, he admits the conviction/registration because, duh, he can’t hide from it, but he says it was a frame job from his sister’s husband; the victim, or alleged victim but he was convicted so I’d say just victim, was his sister’s child.
Anyway I don’t even care what his deal is. The point is that Shelley has been going out with the guy, who’s been out of jail or whatever for at least eight or nine years, and they’re now basically living together. She totally believes Rick’s story. Fine. Shelley adores children and she’s very very good with them, and as I said, she works in this nursery school.
Or she did until today. Somehow the school found out about her relationship with Rick (I don’t know how–I suspect a former friend who also works at the school spilled the beans) and her employers quickly announced a policy that disallows employees from… I’m not sure how they worded it, but I guess it’s fraternizing with registered sex offenders. Shelley was given notice at once.
I can’t say I blame them. Illinois is an at-will employment state so they could fire her for having black hair if they wanted to, much less for something that, if it got out, could taint Shelley by implication and therefore the school itself. It does seem unfair because it’s not as if she has the kids over to her house or interacts with them in any way outside school. Still, a school can’t take chances because any parents who learned this would raise holy hell. I do blame the ex-friend for being spiteful enough to rat on her (assuming my guess is right), but it’s really nothing that the employers couldn’t have found out on their own if Shelley ever told them her BF’s name.
My question, after this huge long tale, is… Shelley’s left me a message and I’m supposed to call her back to lend an ear, and… what the hell do I say? Clearly not what I’m thinking, which is “Hon I’m sorry but what the fuck did you expect, you’re working with kids, and your boyfriend’s on the Sex Offender Registry, you think that wasn’t gonna have an effect on your employment? What about when you get married?!”
I suppose I’m just venting-by-proxy here. What I’ll likely say is “I’m sorry, sweetie, that sucks, it’s a difficult situation, I really wish I could help…” and similar platitudes. But is there anything else I can say? The option “Dump this anchor” is not on the table. She loves him. And honestly, part of me really doesn’t like the idea of someone never getting a second chance. By all accounts, for the past ten years the guy has never reoffended and he’s going to his required check-ins with his P.O. or whatever the heck he’s supposed to do.
P.S. There is a non-zero possibility that I’m writing this post just to put off this phone call. I am that big of a wimp.