‘The man I lived with for 20 years turned out to be a paedophile’ – how two women dealt with finding out their husbands were child sex offenders

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Every year 5000 men are arrested in the UK for downloading sexual images of children – but the police believe the figure is nearer 100,000 people viewing illegal material.

So how does the wife of a sexual offender come to terms with the devastating discovery? Now a thought-provoking Channel 4 documentary, Married to a Paedophile, addresses the issue by telling the stories of two women who found themselves in this horrifying predicament.

Channel 4

Married to a Paedophile airs tonight at 9pm on C4 – posed by actors[/caption]

The Sun has been given exclusive access to both women who are played by actors in the doc to keep their identities under wraps.

Kate, who is in her early fifties and who has two grown-up daughters, chose to immediately separate from her husband, Alex, who later received community service.

Helen, in her sixties and a grandmother, decided to stick with her husband of 44 years, Robert, who was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Respecting their privacy, we are also keeping their personal details a secret.

Channel 4

Both women are played by actors in the docu-drama[/caption]

Here Kate talks poignantly in her own words about the day her world fell apart…

She says:When Alex was arrested for downloading illegal images in our family home we’d shared for more than 20 years, it was, and still is, the worst day of my life.

“I was getting ready for work early one morning when the doorbell rang.

Alex answered the door and suddenly, a group of police officers came rushing up the stairs to conduct a search of our house.

Absolutely no idea why, I asked Alex who told me they had come to speak to him about accessing indecent images. I looked at him in complete disbelief.

In the run-up to that day, he had been going on the computer a lot but when I did challenge him, he assured me everything was fine.

He’d also been depressed on and off for a long time. Alex worked as a teacher and he would get terribly anxious about his job as he felt under pressure to get good exam results.

But I certainly had no inkling whatsoever that he had been downloading illegal images.

As far as I was concerned, we were a happy, ordinary couple. We’d been married for 20 years and our two daughters had left home to go to University.

Channel 4

Every year 5000 men are arrested in the UK for downloading sexual images of children[/caption]

We were at a point where, or so I thought, we could look forward to some good times together.

As the police searched our house and took away all our electronic equipment, including mine, Alex kept shaking and telling me he wasn’t a paedophile. I believed him.

I thought it must be some horrid mistake and that day; I sat and waited for him to call to say he could come home. Finally after about 12 hours, I was summoned to the police station.

When I arrived, he was calm and he looked tired. A doctor had also been there to check him over.

What I didn’t know until much later was the doctor had actually been telling him not to kill himself. The police’s immediate concern is that people in that position will take their own lives.

I was still feeling quite angry as I thought it was a mistake but after being taken to a police room, Alex told me in a matter of fact tone: ‘I have been addicted to pornography for ten years and I have been looking at illegal images for the last two years on the home computer – but never the work one.’

Channel 4

Married to a Paedophile airs tonight at 9pm on C4[/caption]

It was a complete bolt from the blue. I started screaming and I left the room.

We didn’t speak until we got back home and it was only then, I started to take everything on board. My instinct was to phone my sister, who couldn’t comprehend it either but she phoned early the next morning to tell me I had to separate immediately.

Alex didn’t plead with me when I told him we were to split up. I think he knew the game was up and he seemed relieved he wouldn’t have to conceal it any longer.

I was, however, still in total shock. Whilst I was not a victim, I had been caught up in a situation that I never anticipated. I was, as an officer later said, the collateral damage.

Aside from the fact that my marriage was now over, there were many other things I had to deal with. My first priority was telling my daughters over the phone. It was incredibly difficult for all of us and they were totally devastated.

Very much guided by my sister, I then went to see a solicitor. It felt bizarre given only a few days earlier I had been happily married. She told me to start divorce proceedings immediately as if I didn’t, then it would take a long time. I had to protect my career, reputation and deep down, I realised I had been living with someone who had been lying for ten years. There was no way we would be able to have a good marriage after that even if he had been contrite.

I also visited my work. I had a professional job and you don’t just suddenly disappear. My boss was very understanding but because I worked with younger children, they had to call a meeting to determine I was safe. It was a formality and, of course, there was never any question but it was all still so appalling.

My bosses told me to take as much time off as I needed. I can only liken how I felt to a bereavement.

I cried at the drop of the hat, I wasn’t in control of my emotions and I also felt frightened about how the community would view it. All sorts of illogical thoughts went through my mind like would someone put something through the letterbox because of everything? They didn’t and people were supportive of me but that did not stop my irrational fear. I upped security but I still felt vulnerable.

“ spent a lot of my time in those first few months reading up about the subject. I wanted to find out why he had accessed images. I kept going over conversations we’d had too. I also sought professional help and a course run by the Lucy Faithfull charity was really useful.

Yet it took time and even the smallest of tasks seemed unmanageable.

I kept in touch with Alex for the first few weeks via phone or email but after a month, I stopped completely. I also refused to attend his court trial.

The woman who stuck by her husband

When grandmother Helen found out her husband, Robert, had been downloading illegal images on the home computer, she decided to stick by her husband of 44 years.

She says: “I knew he was spending a lot of time on the computer but I had no idea what he was doing,” she says. “When the police arrived at our house and Robert told me ‘he was so sorry’, I knew he had done something terrible.

“When I found out, it was such a shock. I was totally devastated.

“I knew from the evidence that he was going to go to prison.

“But we had been married for a long time and you can’t stop caring. When you have the possibility of losing each other, it makes you think. I was also terrified he would commit suicide.”

The time apart, reveals Helen, gave her the much-needed space to come to terms with everything. “I had enormous anger,” she admits.

“But I was able to work through this. We’d had a few bad years with some deaths in our family and Robert lost his job, which he was devastated by. It doesn’t excuse anything but I think I now realise the trigger.”

Once out of prison, however, Helen told Robert that whilst they would continue to see each other, he couldn’t return home. She has two sons, one of whom has two children. “My son and daughter-in-law did not want to cut me off from seeing my grandchildren but they did not want them visiting me at home if Robert was there,” she explains. “I told him that we would need to live apart.

“Robert was resentful about this but he did want to continue the relationship. We are still husband and wife and we do still see each other every day except from when I am seeing the children,” she says. “It has affected family life. My son and his wife have also now recently split up and it was a factor. Their marriage was never quite the same.

“I am glad I’ve taken part in this documentary. There is a difference between downloading images and a contact offence. I hope this programme helps to raise awareness.”

Yet his trial, seven months on, proved to be a catalyst for me personally as I stopped feeling so anxious and I began to emerge from the abyss. It was then that a friend persuaded me to try Internet dating. Shortly afterwards, I met my new partner, Richard.

I told him early on in our relationship about Alex. A few friends cautioned me not to as it’s hardly first date material! But Richard was amazing.

We are still together and I trust him 100 per cent. I have only been let down by one person (Alex) and it would be awful not to trust people again. I really do feel like I have met my soul mate.

Throughout everything, my daughters have been so supportive. I am so proud of how they have dealt with everything. They do still see Alex and they are trying to help him rebuild his life too. He will always, afterall, be their father.


Now I have so much to look forward to with Richard. We’ve moved away from the area to start afresh and I am happier I have. I do still get panic attacks if I see an acquaintance. I am anxious about what they know and if they will think ‘ah is that the woman who was married to the sex offender?’

But I am not going to let my life be defined by it. I am glad I have taken part in this documentary. There is never any thought for what happens to the family and I feel like we are the hidden voice. I hope it does raise awareness about the forgotten ones in all of this. I feel lucky to have met Richard but many women don’t get over it. These situations do wreck lives…”

*Married to a Paedophile will be screened on Channel 4 on Monday 3rd September at 9pm.