Kids' stepfather arrested for child molestation - what can their father do?

My boyfriend has just found out that his childrens’ stepfather has been arrested on charges of child molestation. I’m looking for advice on what he should do.

My boyfriend “Greg” has three boys by his ex-wife “Susan”, ages 12, 10, and 8. They live with Susan, her husband (“Stepfather”), and Susan & Stepfather’s three younger children (ages 4, 2 1/2 and 4 months).

Anyway, today Greg found this in the local newspaper:

Our educated guess is that the child he is charged with molesting is the child of a friend of theirs, not Greg’s boys.

Greg wants to find out more information about these charges, and how to best find out if his kids have been harmed in any way. (Susan has not yet been forthcoming with any information, and has not returned Greg’s calls.)

We called the jail, and Stepfather is no longer being held - so he must have posted bail, although they would not tell us specifically. So where is Stepfather now? Is he going to be allowed to return to the home with 6 young children?

We called the court and district attorney’s office, and they had no information on the case yet - they said to call the sheriff’s office. So we did, and initially they would not give any information on the case - they said that they could not discuss it with anyone but parties to the case. However, we stressed that Greg is the father of three children living in the household and he is concerned for their well being. They said a detective would call him back.

So what do we do now?! I am shocked and very concerned for the children. I am also concerned because based on comments that Susan has made on her MySpace page, she is convinced of her husband’s innocence and that this is all a lie made up by someone. So she may not be able to protect her kids if she doesn’t believe anything happened.

p.s. For background: I have written about Greg and Susan and problems with their kids before here: Child visitation advice needed: should you force kids to visit if they don’t want to?

Another thing - Greg has talked to his kids twice recently, since their stepfather was arrested, and he said they sounded sullen and distant on the phone. At the time, he didn’t know about the stepfather’s arrest, so he thought they might be mad at him or something. But in hindsight, he thinks they are upset at what is happening with their stepfather. I mean, he was arrested at their home, so it is likely that Greg’s boys witnessed it. They must be scared and confused. How should Greg handle it when he talks to them on the phone?

By the way, Greg and Susan live 3,000 miles apart, so he can’t go pick them up to stay with him. And school starts next week, so it would be hard to go visit or have them come here.

Contact childrens’ services.

Also, have his lawyer go to the judge that presided over the divorce, & bring this up.

Have him demand custody. Now.

I read this as Susan does not want to face the possibility and therefore is denying the whole thing.

Susan is one bitter woman. My only advice is for your BF to consult his attorney and see about extending visitation/contact or getting custody. I might also bring up the thought of having the kids examined (but have no idea on the legal grounds for it or how to do so without freaking out the kids). A new school is nothing compared to future peace of mind. I feel bad for all the kids, this must be hell for all of them. Susan needs to man up here but that’s not likely.

Did the boys come out this summer? I didn’t read that other thread to the end.

Update: Greg just talked to Susan. Susan made light of the whole thing. She said that Stepfather’s lawyer said that this will all be dropped by next week. Susan said that there is a woman - a former friend of theirs - who is “obsessed” with Stepfather. This woman has a 14-year-old daughter who is the child making the accusations. Apparently back in February, the woman asked Stepfather to go to her house to check on the 14 yo girl, who was sick. This is when the alleged assault took place. Susan thinks the whole thing is made up and is convinced that the charges will be dropped.

In the meantime, Stepfather’s mother posted bail, and he is back at home - with the 6 kids. His mother has also given them $50,000 as a retainer for a lawyer.

Greg talked to the detective and was not able to get much information. Detective said that his report has been sent to the district attorney’s office and that they probably won’t review it until next week. It will be up to them whether to prosecute or not. The detective told Greg that if he has any concerns about his kids, to call child protective services and request that they talk to the kids. Greg is not sure if he wants to do that yet.

I am still very disturbed. I am very skeptical of the story about this woman who is “obsessed” with the stepfather. It sounds like Susan is in denial, big time.

eleanorigby - no, Greg never got to see his kids this summer.

So based on the update, what’s your advice? Should he believe Susan and be at ease? or should he call his lawyer and CPS?

It is a possibility that Stepfather is innocent. Others before now have been accused of molestation in attempts at revenge for imagined slights. However, the children’s safety trumps Stepfather’s feelings. Stepfather, if he is a reasonable and innocent adult, will understand that Greg has to investigate these claims for himself. No parent in their right mind would be happy about this situation.

Greg owes it to his children to investigate very carefully, and most likely to take custody of the kids until the case is resolved one way or the other. He should do this while making it clear that he understands that Stepfather may be innocent, but that the possibility that he isn’t must be given priority.

Susan will undoubtedly explode regardless, so I say try to get custody changed now, and go out to visit the boys and check on them personally. Now. This is not something that can be dealt with long-distance. I don’t care what Greg has going on in his life–he is responsible to his children first, and they haven’t got anyone else to protect them.

I agree. Greg needs to SEE his kids, face to face, not just for his own peace of mind, but also to show the kids that he’s concerned about them. If he continues to show concern and interest to the boys, at some point, the poison fed them by their mother will stop working (well, it will manifest itself later in their relations with women, but let’s not go there tonight).

They may not be happy in that home, but it’s their home and all they know. They may well even be happy there–who can say? But regardless of Susan’s wishful thinking, Greg is the boys’ father and is entitled to not only see them, but to check on them via CPS.

I’d bring up the no visitation with the attorney as well. No Ex should be allowed to get away with that (barring endangerment of a child).

I am child of a bitter and nasty divorce. I cannot express enough contempt for those “parents” who enact their drama and control issues on hapless, helpless children. Susan can rot in hell, IMO.

dangermom, thank you. I will tell Greg. I think Greg is trying to tread very carefully and not make this into a worse situation.

Should we wait until next week to see if the district attorney prosecutes the charges? What if the DA drops the charges? Does Greg still need to be concerned?

Since the case is about a 14 yo girl, does that decrease the danger to the boys, as opposed to if it were a younger victim or male victim?

On edit: eleanorigby, thank you too. I will talk to Greg about trying to go out to visit. Money is tight so I don’t know if it would be possible. But I agree, it is a good idea.

Money must be found–I fear that if Greg does not find a way to be with his kids right now, that more damage will be done. We have no way of knowing what the home situation is, but we must act as if the worst is occurring, IMO. Kids don’t understand “I couldn’t come in the crisis because I couldn’t afford it.” They read that as “I didn’t care enough about you to come when you needed me.” Or most kids do, IME.

I don’t think that Susan should be apprised of the trip, if at all possible. Or if she is, she should be told only once Greg is in CA and near the house–through the attorney, if need be. I wouldn’t put it past her to play least in sight and not allow the boys to be home, after Greg flies 3000 miles.
Greg needs to get firm about this and use his attorney to get access to his kids.

I wish him luck. :frowning:

Yes, exactly. It doesn’t matter how tight money is. Greg should just show up on the doorstep, IMO.

Let me try to express this properly: there is nothing more important in Greg’s life than protecting his children. That is his first responsiblity. Everything else comes waaay second place. They are his kids, no one else is going to do this, and their well-being depends on him stepping up and doing what is right.

I know I sound like Dr. Laura here, but that’s the way it is.

A call should be made to the state Dept. of Children and Families in the state the kids live in to ask to open a case, IMO.

If DCF goes out to investigate based upon “Susan” denying her husband could have done anything wrong and possibly being unprotective of her kids, and they find the kids should be removed then “Greg” might be able to take that to court and ask to amend the custody agreement to have his kids placed with him.

It might be possible that the police themselves would involve DCF, but if your boyfriend calls in to their reporting line himself and makes mention of the criminal charges against stepfather, it carries that much more weight.

I also agree with the other comments that he should not inform her ahead of time of the trip; I would say, show up on the doorstep and also make the call to DCF. If he has the state child welfare agency supporting his efforts, that’s something.

It’s understandable he doesn’t want all this to blow up into a big drama, but the prospect that their mother may not be protective of them is disturbing.

I’m very sorry to hear that you and Greg have to deal with this. I’m also sorry that Greg’s children have to deal with this, too.

If the custody arrangement between Susan and Greg weren’t already looking pretty shaky my advice might be different. As it is, however, I think this should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and gets Greg suing to change primary custody.

I recognize that at the moment we’re only dealing with accusations. But, with Susan having been incommunicado about this, I’d view that as the last straw. Greg should have heard about this from her. Not through the news papers. Among other things, the refusal to talk about this situation leaves me thinking that there may well be more to this than Susan is saying. I think it’s quite fair for Greg to petition to inform the court handling the divorce/custody issues that he has lost any faith he may have had in Susan’s ability to either care for the children, or her willingness to keep him informed. Individually I’d expect that either of those issues would warrant a re-examination of the custody arrangements. Together they seem absolutely compelling.

I would definitely call CPS to report the situation. Even if the court will do it anyway, as the father I think he should file his own report so they can get his concerns documented.

It seems like you’re getting some great advice about contacting an attorney already, so I’ll just wish you all luck and hope for the best.

Good advice everyone.

I think there is a hesitation to act right away with calling CPS because at this point, we don’t know whether the charges will be prosecuted by the DA. Should this make a difference? What if the accusations are false? Do we want to stir up the situation even more by bringing CPS onto the scene? Could acting too quickly cause more damage? What if Greg takes action, and stepfather is innocent, or charges are dropped… this could put Susan in super-ultra-uber-vengance mode.

Yes, Susan should have told Greg. I’m willing to bet that if he hadn’t seen it in the paper that she would have kept it secret as long as she could.

Personally I am very wary of CPS. Yes, they help children in trouble. They also sometimes take children without good reason and neglect children who need help. Unless you truly feel that the kids are in imminent danger, I would not call CPS but would stick with lawyer/DA/police. You should consider that if CPS takes the kids, they may not be willing to hand them over to you.

Are the kids in imminent danger? I don’t know. I’m not clear on where Stepdad is right now. You made the point above that a person interested in 14yo girls may not be interested in hurting young boys; I don’t know enough about that to say.

I think the CPS issue is a very tricky one which will take a lot of thought, but for myself I would not advise calling them without a very good reason–that’s a bell you can’t unring.

Thank you dangermom. Maybe it’s best for Greg to contact his lawyer.

Stepfather is back at home now, with Susan and the 6 children… aren’t there conditions for bail in cases like these that say the defendant can’t be around children??

I’m inclined to agree with dangermom’s views of CPS. I know that they do important work, and I believe that most of the people are working from the best of motives. But I have seen too much idiocy with CPS’s involvement with The Monster to have much faith in their judgment. If the current investigation expands to include CPS checking the stepfather’s relationship at home, that’s one thing. But I wouldn’t call them in, myself.

For the potential retaliation issue - that may be a reason to tailor Greg’s complaints to the communications breakdowns. Including the ones from earlier this year, and with this being the capper. Describe it as the final sign that he cannot count on her to communicate anything important to him. Not as he’s using the boogeyman to get his kids away from their mother.

Is there any reason why Greg shouldn’t try to get full custody of his children? I know it would involve moving them across country, but that seems a hell of a lot better than leaving them with a potentially abusive adult. If I were him I would move heaven and earth to get my kids out of that situation.

Let me ask you all a question: let’s say Stepfather is either not prosecuted (charges dropped) or is found not guilty… should we still consider him potentially abusive?

Up until now, Stepfather has seemed to be a very good stepdad to the kids… the kids actually really like him. And it has been nice for them to be in a household with their mother and her husband (i.e. two parents as opposed to a single parent), and their other siblings… rather than in a household with a single father.

What are you, chopped liver? If you’re Greg’s GF, you matter (maybe not to the kids right now, but you know what I mean).

I don’t know what is best for these kids. I do know that Greg should use this issue to clarify and re-establish the connection and custody of his kids. I am stunned that he didn’t see his kids this summer, and I am sorry to say it, I think that he didn’t try hard enough. Distance is against him here, so he must work twice as hard for half the pay off–not easy, I know. I accept that Susan is a psycho bitch from hell. But as long as he acquiesces, he is letting her control the show. She’s managed to get away with this for quite some time, apparently, so now the behavior is entrenched. He needs to fight for his right to access NOW.

I can’t understand this. Greg should be able to call his sons at any time (reasonable time, not 0300) and talk. He should be able to email and even do a Facebook kind of thing. He should be told when and if these boys are up for sports/academic/music awards etc. He should be cc’ed a copy of their grades etc. If this is not happening, HE HAS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I didn’t say it would be easy, but I know it’s too easy to just handwring on the east coast and say, “what can I do?” He can take Susan the Bitch to court. He can delineate clearly how and what access he has to these boys and negotiate via attorney if necessary. He can insist on those boys coming to see him every summer and winter etc.

Obviously, this is a red button issue for me. I despise parents who use their kids as weapons. But I’m not overly fond of parents who tacitly allow that shit to happen and then whine about it, either. It sounds to me like Greg doesn’t want custody. Ok, fine. It is up to him to make the long distance relationship work. Kids don’t stand still and with each season, another chance at connection is lost. With each year, trust and love are eroded. Greg should not be surprised if his boys are strangers to him later in life.

Sorry to go off so much here–I not just dumping on poor Greg, I’m trying to shake some sense into him. He needs to move NOW–one boy is already 12. Just when is this great dad/son bonding supposed to occur? At 18? At 30? It needs to start today. He needs to do it; you can be sure Susan never will.