A problem which threatens to rip my extended family apart...
May 11, 2018 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I'll try to keep this shortish and to the point. My sister is 25 and she's dating a guy who is 27. We have a daughter (3) and my sister and this guy she's dating have routinely looked after my daughter once a week. They've mainly done trips into the city, been to the park. Once or twice they've been swimming or to a play barn.

My daughter has never been keen on the guy, says she doesn't like him, doesn't want to see him and that he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't. This last came after a swimming trip. We're not keen on the guy either, but that's because he has no hobbies/interests, and we thought she could do better. He has also put down my sister once or twice in front of us in a way we found unnecessary and uncomfortable.

A while back we decided there were enough red flags about this guy to want to pursue a police background check. The background check revealed there is is a currently on-going investigation into this guy because of allegations made by his ex-partner about something to do with THEIR child. As a result of the on-going investigation (which we had no idea about), this guy is not allowed contact with any children until he's either released from police bail or charged.

The bail is due to either come to an end in a week's time or be extended, or he could be charged.

Here's the rub. We know that he may not be charged simply due to insufficient evidence.

The rest of my family are ready to, at the point he may be released from bail and not charged, declare his now undisputed innocence and welcome him back into the fold. They have been determined throughout the allegations are unfounded.

We have more or less decided we want our children to have NOTHING further to do with him apart from being in the same room together at occasional family functions - birthdays etc.

We face a problem in a week's time. WE will be the bad guys in our extended family's eyes for refusing to accept this guy back into the fold should he become "innocent" plus all the information from the cops is coming filtered via him so he COULD cook up any reason for not being charged, he wouldn't necessarily say: "they're not charging me due to insufficient evidence".

By the way: we haven't lost sight of the (very real) possibility he is totally innocent - we've just made a call for our children that the red flags/gut instinct are telling us it's simply not worth the risk.

The problem is we just don't want to rip the wider family apart, if we can help it, by protecting our children from a possible threat.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (117 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me there would be absolutely no question -- I'd protect my child at the potential expense of extended family relationships. I could NEVER live with myself if I was wrong and my child was abused.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:33 AM on May 11 [106 favorites]

And if you don't want to be blunt about your reasons, just find excuses for them not to watch your kids. Don't say it out loud, you just found a more convenient arrangement or whatever.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:35 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]


I would get in touch with the prosecutors and let them know he has violated the conditions of his bail. I would also contact the Judge. I would let everyone possible know about this. Full stop.

Sort out your family dynamics later.
posted by jbenben at 8:35 AM on May 11 [217 favorites]

The fact that your daughter is uncomfortable around him is the bottom line here. Even if there were zero problems with his background check, you would still be justified in keeping your daughter away from him based on the episodes of her being upset at his unwanted touches.
posted by Knowyournuts at 8:36 AM on May 11 [210 favorites]

Listen to what your child has told you and do your utmost to keep them away from this person.
posted by sacchan at 8:36 AM on May 11 [50 favorites]

You didn't choose to bring your extended family into the world. You did choose to bring your child into the world. That means you owe your child a duty of protection you don't owe to your extended family.

As I read your question, I assumed the question was going to be "Do I report this guy for violating his bail conditions by baby-sitting my child?" which might have some room for debate. I don't think there's even the slightest question that you should not allow your child to ever be out of your supervision near a person who not only had a 'no contact with children' order issued against him, but also routinely ignored that order with YOUR child.

If your extended family chooses to tear themselves apart because you won't let your sister babysit anymore, that is their choice, not yours.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:36 AM on May 11 [62 favorites]

Sorry for the triple-post but I don't want to abuse the edit function: your child has said that she does not want to see him. That's more than enough reason. She should be able to have some input here.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:36 AM on May 11 [45 favorites]

we just don't want to rip the wider family apart

You won't be. You are making choices for your family. If they decide to flip out about that, that is on them.

Longer version: families with dysfunction often have these sorts of freakouts when there are people who are trying to extricate themselves from dysfunction. This is a normal thing that happens. So you start expressing a boundary and you get a lot of HOW DARE YOU and, because of decades of conditioning, you feel bad about that. But, really, putting up a boundary is about you and your family. A choice you've made. Other people may not like it, but part of now having your own family is making choices that may be different from your family of origin. And in healthy relationships people try to support one another to make decisions that are best for them.

So you may be the bad guy, so what? That's on them. You're not the bad guy in the world, you just may be the people who are making a different choice than the rest of the family. I know it's challenging especially when children are involved and you'll have to decide how far to go with that. I mean, this guy is violating the terms of his... bail? release? Whatever. Don't turn it into a drama factory, just change the terms of your agreement. Don't get into it with them. Your kid doesn't like him. You respect her agency. Good parenting.
posted by jessamyn at 8:36 AM on May 11 [45 favorites]

I'd keep the kid within earshot, and watch him like a hawk. Actions speak louder than words, and I'd certainly have the man to man talk about not tickling and not touching my kid because she has asked you not to repeatedly.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:37 AM on May 11 [14 favorites]

Even if he is deemed innocent of misconduct in the eyes of the law, he behaves in a way that makes your kid uncomfortable and he does not respect your kid's boundaries about physical touch. I would totally be the bad guy in this situation.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:39 AM on May 11 [27 favorites]

So, wait, am I reading this wrong?

As a result of the on-going investigation (which we had no idea about), this guy is not allowed contact with any children until he's either released from police bail or charged.


We have a daughter (3) and my sister and this guy she's dating have routinely looked after my daughter once a week. They've mainly done trips into the city, been to the park. Once or twice they've been swimming or to a play barn.

So he's already in violation of this order? And your daughter doesn't want to see him? Why on earth would you not keep your distance here?
posted by dilettante at 8:39 AM on May 11 [127 favorites]

Any family member of yours who would turn on you for not leaving your children within reach of someone who has been violating a no-child-contact order while under investigation is a family member you can well stand to lose. You may be able to arrange it so it's not an issue--avoiding family gatherings where he might have unsupervised access, etc. But if it does, your number-one priority should be protecting your kids. Keep in mind that anyone with even a modicum of good judgment who was falsely/incorrectly accused of inappropriateness with kids would go miles and miles to avoid suspicious behavior and would adhere scrupulously to such an order.

Also, your daughter deserves to be taught that her physical boundaries are to be respected, regardless of the guy's innocence with respect to other children. No one would be allowed to be around a younger family member of mine if the kid had expressed a physical boundary, it had been discussed, and it hadn't been respected again. No one.
posted by praemunire at 8:40 AM on May 11 [42 favorites]

I'm with the group here: tell the prosecutors and the judge that he's violated his bail conditions. Make it clear that your child is not comfortable around him as a consequence of his actions around them. Drop the hammer.

Child first, relationship with extended family second. Full stop.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:40 AM on May 11 [43 favorites]

Your daughter doesn't like him and has told you why. That's enough.
posted by rtha at 8:44 AM on May 11 [19 favorites]

I'm with the group here: tell the prosecutors and the judge that he's violated his bail conditions.

I would 1000% do this. Often you don't have to have your name as the tipoff.
posted by corb at 8:44 AM on May 11 [52 favorites]

The fact that your daughter is uncomfortable and that he won't respect her telling him to stop behavior is enough to not leave him alone with your child. He has also violated a court order regarding children. So absolutely keep your child away from him.

I'm not sure if being at family gatherings and not leaving him alone with your child is an option, but if it is, I think that would be OK if it will help you preserve your family relationships. However, if your family is going to constantly hassle you about your decision to not let him alone with your child, you may decide it's not worth it.

Ultimately, if there's any doubt about a person, you need to protect your child. And yes, absolutely report him for violating his bail conditions and family be damned on that one.
posted by FencingGal at 8:46 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]

dude. The guy is in violation of his court order.

AND your kid has told you that he is too physical with her.

Pick up the phone and call that prosecutor and the police right now.

This is not your extended family's business, this is your business and law enforcement's.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:48 AM on May 11 [94 favorites]

FYI, I was very uncomfortable with an uncle as a child, even though I have no memory of him doing anything to me. However, I found out years later that he had molested another family member. Kids pick up on stuff.
posted by FencingGal at 8:48 AM on May 11 [39 favorites]

You should not make your child interact with someone who doesn't respect their boundaries, especially when they are young and unable to protect themselves.

Whether or not this guy is innocent of any charges or not is irrelevant. Even if he was as pure as driven snow, you need to teach your children from an early age that their feelings matter.
posted by madajb at 8:48 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]

As a mother and as a grandmother I urge you to get in touch with the authorities. You can give your sister the benefit of the doubt, she may not have known about the charges against him and the conditions of his bail, but dammit, he did. He knew full well that he was not supposed to be around kids. If he didn't want to tell your sister about his charges and he knew they would get thrown out because they were untrue he would have found a way to avoid spending time with your kid. The fact that he willingly spent time with your kid, knowing he was violating the terms of his bail by doing so, is an indication that he's a lying devious person, who may also be a child molester. No matter how articulate your 3 yr old is for her age she may not yet have the vocabulary to express fully what he did to her. Please report this and please stop worrying about your extended family's response to your desire to protect your child.
posted by mareli at 8:50 AM on May 11 [61 favorites]

There is a vast difference between a court of law and a situation where you are protecting your child.

You are 1000% right to never, ever, ever have your child and this guy together again. Any drama your family creates over this is entirely their problem, not yours. I also agree you should report the bail violation but I think that's your call.

Look...at one point in my life I was open with some family members about specific ways I was abused. That week I also offered to watch their kids, and they turned me down. It was personally painful but what I said was I get it, no problem. I felt stigmatized and a few other things but my rule is, you don't give parents shit for protecting their kids. (It all worked out once they had time to absorb things.) That's what a functional family does - it prioritizes children's well being over adult feelings.

Your family is dysfunctional. No shame, no blame to you but you shouldn't have to pursue a background check to decide a guy is too hinky to be around your daughter, and I'm sure you are trying to protect your sister too but it seems kind of...like you are looking for arbitration here. I'm sorry your family is getting torn apart but that's just...drama. You can easily never leave your child with particular family members and still have a decent family event relationship, because babysitting access to kids is never a right. So stay calm, keep your boundaries firm. If they make drama, so be it. Good luck.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:52 AM on May 11 [14 favorites]

This has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence so don't get tripped up by that argument. The guy is creeping your daughter out and touching her in a way that she doesn't like. You don't need any more reason than that, but if you want one, he's also a criminal for violating the conditions of his bail. Your family dynamic will or won't sort itself out in time, but your first responsibility is to your child. To be clear: There is nothing ambiguous about this situation. If you want your daughter to know that she has agency over her own body, you have to back her up. The end.
posted by HotToddy at 8:52 AM on May 11 [38 favorites]

WE will be the bad guys in our extended family's eyes for refusing to accept this guy back into the fold should he become "innocent"

Families that do this sort of thing have more going on than just liking the guy. You can like this guy and even think he's totally innocent and still realize that he doesn't have some kind of RIGHT to spend time with your child without you and that the risk of something happening is too much to allow it. I had an uncle who, when he was still quite young, did some things that as far as I know, he never did and quite possibly didn't even have any inclination to do as an adult. I didn't know about any of this until I was grown. It never really occurred to me to think it was terribly odd that we only spent time with him with other family around and not regularly. I had a perfectly fine relationship with him--he died when I was still pretty young. I do have some complicated feelings about what I've found out since, but they aren't nearly so complicated as they'd be if there'd ever been even faintly weird/uncomfortable moments where I'd have to realize that the rest of my family had been putting me into an unsafe position.

Other people in your family are the ones trying to make this more adversarial than it needs to be. No kid ever grows up and thinks "oh I'd have a way better relationship with this family member if I'd been left alone with them unsupervised more when I was very young".
posted by Sequence at 9:00 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]

Everyone is right that you should listen to your child, and report him to the authorities if you want.

From a "family dynamics" perspective, don't make this about the guy. It's about your daughter. She doesn't feel comfortable around him. Tell your family that. You can even lie and say, "I'm sure it's a phase" and "This is nothing to do with the investigation, I'm sure he is innocent" and whatever other white lies you want to make up to try and preserve family harmony, but the bottom line is sometimes parents have to be the bad guys. We had to tell my mother-in-law that my daughter couldn't be around her dog for several years after he tried to bite her. It sucked, but you've got to protect your kid.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:05 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]

I’ll go a step further and suggest that this guy having any access to your child should be a non starter. One of my abusers was particularly fond of large family gatherings. I had already told a grownup what was happening and had been rebuffed, and this dirtbag could be quick when he wanted to be. This is why the court said your sisters dude couldn’t have contact with kids. Supervised contact is just too slippery. (As anyone who’s ever had a toddler empty a bag of flour on a floor knows, many things happen in the span of ‘just a few seconds.’)

So ya. Whatever excuses you need to make or family blowups you need to witness (you won’t be causing them!) will be worth it to keep your kid safe.
posted by bilabial at 9:07 AM on May 11 [42 favorites]

I agree with everyone above who said good for you for taking your child at her word and you did the right thing by not letting her be around him anymore. I also do think you should report him for violating his bail conditions.

Your extended family is dysfunctional, and them wanting to make you feel bad for protecting your child proves it.

But I also wanted to say, you and the child's other parent are doing something very right in that your daughter felt secure enough to explicitly tell you that she was uncomfortable with this guy and why. And you have reinforced her security with you by believing her and doing something about it. That is the best thing you could have done, and I'm so glad for her sake that you did.

So when your family gives you grief, remember that they are wrong and you are the ones being good parents.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:07 AM on May 11 [37 favorites]

And I also agree with bilabial to just not let your daughter be around him even at family gatherings with lots of people. There's a reason the court decided no access to children at all, supervised or not.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:12 AM on May 11 [15 favorites]

Call the prosecutor and tell them that he's been violating bail but that you want your name kept out of it if at all possible. Protect your child no matter what.
posted by purple_bird at 9:13 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]

Please call the police and let them know he's violated the court order. Someone who can't respect a temporary court order is a huuuuuuuuuuuge red flag and he's going to be an ongoing problem. For me, that alone would push it from "ugly divorce drama" to "this guy is a likely predator," even before your daughter's dislike of him and his repeated violations of her boundaries.

FYI, you very likely will have to keep your sister from spending alone time with your child until she breaks up with this creep, since she's likely to refuse to believe he's a predator and he's likely to try to persuade her to let him spend time with your child when you're not there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:13 AM on May 11 [69 favorites]

I work in Child Protection in the UK, so some of this may not be relevant, but still. Please listen to your daughter, and do not let her have contact with this man again. About 90 percent of the allegations I deal with every day do not end in arrest, charges or prosecution, let alone conviction. As a result, I would not be comfortable with this man ever having unsupervised contact with my child, or any child, and by supervised I mean by someone who knows and is willing to accept the possibility he has harmed a child. You cannot safeguard from a risk you do not believe in. I would not be able to sleep at night unless I had directly spoken to his offender manager or another professional and alerted them to the fact that he had broken his conditions.

TLDR; Innocent people mistakenly accused of sex crimes against children do not break their bail conditions by babysitting relatives children. They might do so to see their own, but it sounds like he is going out of his way to be around children unsupervised. Why would he do this if he was innocent?
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 9:15 AM on May 11 [56 favorites]

My daughter has never been keen on the guy, says she doesn't like him, doesn't want to see him and that he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't.

This is reason enough to him away from your daughter even if you hadn’t discovered his background.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:15 AM on May 11 [24 favorites]

he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't.

this guy is not allowed contact with any children until he's either released from police bail or charged.

jesus CHRIST.

it's time to be That Person who is a giant pain in the ass about how your child will never ever ever be in the same room with this creep, and to hell with anyone who has a problem with that

I mean if you want a "HAHA BOUNDARIES AND THE LAW DO NOT APPLY TO ME" red flag, I don't know how the hell you could get a bigger or redder flag than this. I'm floored.

please report this guy
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:16 AM on May 11 [38 favorites]

Yeah, even if he's innocent of whatever he's been charged with, your kid's instincts are probably right on.

I would say to my family, "I understand you think this isn't a big deal, but I couldn't live with myself -- and I know you'd feel the same -- if I disregarded this and it brought harm on my daughter. This isn't about his past with other kids; it's about our family's experience with him directly. I know you love my daughter, too, so I trust you'll support our decision to err on the side of caution and respecting her boundaries."

I'm sorry you're dealing with this :(
posted by spindrifter at 9:16 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]

Me Forever :

I'm with the group here: tell the prosecutors and the judge that he's violated his bail conditions.

I would 1000% do this. Often you don't have to have your name as the tipoff.

posted by French Fry at 9:16 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]

...he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't.

This made my skin crawl, and made me very angry. Your daughter has been molested by a man who has been prohibited, for good reason, from contact with children. This was not your fault, but you need to call the prosecutor TODAY.
posted by Dolley at 9:19 AM on May 11 [35 favorites]

What I'm not seeing here is the term "grooming". It is the process where a would-be molester gradually establishes a position where they can take advantage of a child. It typically starts with minor boundary violations, which are themselves often used as a pretext for the molester shaming the victim. The goal is to find a child who will not tell their parents when things get bad. Tickling without permission is exactly the kind of minor boundary violation that by itself is probably meaningless but can be the entree to larger ones. I had a teacher who is now in jail for life, and he was one of my favorite teachers, but people knew there was something wrong well before they could prove anything. Someone always knows.

Keep your eyes and ears open, and most important, make sure that you give opportunities for kids to talk to you in a comfortable way. The correct response to "Johnny touches me and I don't like it" is not, despite every instinct you have, to say "I am going to find that Johnny and impale him!" Because that puts a lot of stress and responsibility on the kid who is already saying something that is very difficult even for an adult to say. And the grooming has possibly convinced the child that they will not be believed if they tell, or that they will be punished, or a hundred other bad things will happen. So the correct response is, "Thank you for telling me that."
posted by wnissen at 9:20 AM on May 11 [56 favorites]

Sorry, but given what your daughter has told you, plus your own gut sense that something is off with this guy, plus what the background check turned up, F*ck politeness. Report this guy and do whatever it takes to keep him away from your children. And sorry, don't do the "spend every family gathering with your heart in your throat trying to keep this creep away from your kids" thing either; it will make for a lifetime of stressful, unpleasant family events, and even if you keep your children safe in that context, he'll be free to go prey on someone else's kid instead. F*ck politeness.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 9:22 AM on May 11 [18 favorites]

I just looked up the rules in my jurisdiction, and a defendant who's been ordered not to have contact with minors but does so just ONCE -- let alone repeatedly!!! -- will be remanded to jail until trial because he's considered a danger to public safety.

Even if he was not guilty of the original crime, he is now guilty of at least one and probably several crimes, since many jurisdictions will charge every violation of such a serious bail condition separately. If the original charge was a felony (offenses against children mostly are), then violating his bail conditions will probably also be charged as a felony (assuming you're in the US). He had this explained to him at length when he was granted bail, agreed to have no contact with minors upon pain of imprisonment and being charged for each violation, and chose to repeatedly violate his bail anyway, deliberately committing several crimes. This guy is a criminal, full stop.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:27 AM on May 11 [38 favorites]

this guy is not allowed contact with any children until he's either released from police bail or charged.

I'd report this. I absolutely would. I would factually state days and times he had contact with your daughter and I'd factually express what she told you about it.

And not only no contact with this guy at all, but no leaving your child alone with your sister if guy is still around because, frankly, it's entirely possible she'll slip up and see the guy while she has your daughter. So no more outings with her, either.
posted by zizzle at 9:32 AM on May 11 [26 favorites]

Your family probably won't listen to this but, even if he is entirely innocent of the charges, he is 100% guilty of repeatedly violating the conditions of his bail.

I agree you should get in touch with the court and confirm that he should not have been around your daughter, even if he lives with your sister and you took your daughter to his house. What the court might do with that information after they're aware is not on you.

Also, I hope your sister did not pay any of his bail or bonds.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:45 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]

I'll also just say, I'd much rather my siblings be pissed at me for years over not giving this guy a chance than have my child say to me I didn't protect them when I could have. I love my siblings very much, but as I tell my kids, grown ups get to make stupid decisions -- but you hope if they make a stupid decision, it doesn't cause harm to others or to themselves. Children don't have that choice. Let your family make and own a stupid decision if that's what they choose to do.
posted by zizzle at 9:48 AM on May 11 [15 favorites]

Team Report Him, here. And fuck your family if they get upset with you because he broke his court order. None of this is on you. Protect your kid.
posted by greermahoney at 9:51 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]

I'm sorry you and your family is in this position, but how is this a thing? Given that your daughter has already reported problems ("Tickleing" ?! Really?), and that he wouldn't stop, I would refuse to bring your daughter anywhere where he might be. A young child (well, adults shouldn't either, but especially not young children) shouldn't have to face her (potential) abuser and anything that looks like you don't believe her / listen to her will wreck her trust in you.

Consider all of the tales on mefi of people who were abused. A number of them include something like "I mentioned X to one of my parents and they down played it and I still had to see Y. I never brought it up again even as things got worse." There's been so much that people have shared on this site - please learn from it.

It's not worth bringing up any of the other reasons for why you don't like this guy. It is sufficient that he's playing tickle games that you daughter had asked him to stop and he didn't. That alone deserves a 100% ban from your immediate family. There can be hundreds of other reasons, but they might be hand-wavey, and once a relative has handwaved over a few objections like you think he could be more motivated, they'll stop listening.

Also, if there's already an order of no contact with children, have you gone to the police to let them know this has been broken?
posted by nobeagle at 9:53 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]

You need to get your daughter to a psychologist or social worker or medical professional who is trained in dealing with victims of child sexual abuse. That is priority number one.

Second priority is reporting his ass immediately for violation of his bail conditions.

Third priority, far far far down the list and not even something to worry about right now, is how to deal with extended family.

There is a very real chance that this man has touched your daughter inappropriately. Your extended family's opinion on the matter is extremely irrelevant in comparison to that issue.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:54 AM on May 11 [14 favorites]

Report him. The guy is prohibited from contact with children during the investigation. He has to know this. He chose not to disclose this to you.

And, yes, respect your kid's consent boundaries and consider professional guidance there, but even if this guy had behaved absolutely impeccably, he started by abusing your trust and not disclosing potential problems. The court needs to know about this.
posted by straw at 9:57 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]

I would be concerned that he has done more than "tickle" your daughter. There is no way to know, I guess, but there seems to be a not-insignificant risk that he has touched your daughter in a very inappropriate way, and *told* her that he was just tickling her. Are you sure that at three years of age, she would know the difference between tickling and actual sex abuse?
posted by merejane at 9:58 AM on May 11 [17 favorites]

Also, look, the chance that this guy is innocent is infinitesimal. I say this because no 27-year-old guy who has already been accused of a crime involving small children voluntarily hangs out with a 3yo he's not even related to. I mean, most 27-year-old guys don't hang out with 3yos anyway, although many decent men are legitimately good with kids and enjoy them. But even those men would not hang out with a kid while on bail for inappropriately touching another kid. And they CERTAINLY would not be TICKLING any kids. That is incredibly crazy and illogical behavior for anyone who is not a preferential pedophile.

So yes, sure, we can all say he might be innocent, but let's be real: the facts here are consistent with him being a serial predator who has a serious problem, and they are not consistent with anything else.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:58 AM on May 11 [43 favorites]

My daughter has never been keen on the guy, says she doesn't like him, doesn't want to see him and that he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't.

How is this even a question?
posted by LoveHam at 10:02 AM on May 11 [24 favorites]

FWIW I'm on Team Report the Violation of Bail, but it may make it helpful for you to set aside the question of the guy's potential guilt or innocence around a prior incident and just deal with the things you know.

1. You know that this person has touched your daughter in ways that have made her uncomfortable.
2. You know that she has said he won't stop when she asks him to.
3. There is no step three.

This, right here, is more than enough for you to draw a boundary around. You don't need to introduce the potential complication of treating unjustly a person who it may turn out is never charged with a crime.

It's not actually complicated. He won't stop touching her when she asks him to stop.
posted by gauche at 10:03 AM on May 11 [29 favorites]

If you report him for violating the terms of his bail, you end-run the "insufficient" evidence issue with your family because whatever happens there, he'll still be in legal trouble for being near kids when he wasn't supposed to. End of argument. I mean, they can and perhaps will defend him all they want, and you should take that into consideration as you worry about how they feel about you, but you will have an inarguable shrug on your side.

It sucks to have to confront the fact that your extended family are awful horrible people, and I'm sorry, but that's not quite as awful as confronting yourself knowing what you know and having something happen to your daughter.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:12 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]

I have the heebie-jeebies just sitting here reading about someone who won't take "no" from a child for unwanted physical contact.

Not only is this guy breaking the conditions of bail, he's also conditioning your daughter that her desires are meaningless and her body belongs to other people.


And if you can do anything to ensure he is never near any other children again, I say GO FOR IT.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:34 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]

your kid is uncomfortable with him and articulated why. and whether or not the guy is guilty or has a restraining order about being around kids (jesus christ i can't even) you will put the safety of your child over everything else, full stop.

the rest (the charge, the restraining order) is just an extra helping of confirmation, but even that you had the thought "maybe we should look this guy up..." is confirmation enough that you're doing the right thing.
posted by zippy at 10:42 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]

i'm also trying to imagine a scenario where someone is innocent of these charges *and* ignores a court order to stay away from children until the case is over, and it just does not compute as anything OK.
posted by zippy at 10:44 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]

Please never let your child near this man again, no matter how many people are around, and please report him and tell the prosecutor what you said here. "Tickling" is absolutely a thing that some people use as a way to condition children to accept touches that they don't want or enjoy, and is sometimes used as a cover to touch children inappropriately. Your sister's boyfriend is a predator.
posted by mishafletch at 10:45 AM on May 11 [18 favorites]

As someone who was molested as a child and had many years of ensuing therapy, please inform the court of what's happened. Also, what happened and my parents' response to it created a big rift, a decade later.
posted by thesockpuppet at 10:45 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]

Just joining the chorus here, but I am also 100% on Team Report Violations of Bond And Go No Contact. If that means burning some bridges to the ground (water?) so be it.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:00 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]

Can you get in touch with the investigating detective or the family to see what they allege? Any charges may be public knowledge.

You child says they don't want him near them. I would respect that, as well as your own spidey-sense.

You can't control anything the rest of your family does. If you go to visit a family member and he's there, keep your kid close to you. You have the right to not invite him to your home. I would not allow your sister to babysit any more Is she aware of the allegations? Did she put him in contact with your child despite that knowledge? That would be really unacceptable.

Your family may freak out. You don't have to make any pronouncements. If there are other kids in the family, I would tell parents the known facts: He was investigated for harming a child. He hasn't kept to the terms of bail. You don't like the way he treats your sister.

I would tell your sister You deserve better. I would tell your family We have reservations about him based on the facts. We hope he is innocent and remains so. Be polite and Do Not Engage with family members on the topic. It's great for BF that the charges were not pursued and change the subject. Sister is very fond of him and we want her to be happy and change the subject. In my dysfunctional family, I always try to have a few topics up my sleeve for if things get weird. Distraction is quite useful.
posted by theora55 at 11:00 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

I say boycott this guy. It seems unlikely your sister will be with him for the next 50 years. If your family can't understand that you don't want your child near a person BARRED BY THE COURT FROM SEEING CHILDREN, then they have serious problems. It sucks when your family has serious problems. That seems like a separate ask.

Your family will likely get over your decision in five years when your sister hasn't seen this guy in 4.5 years. Likely much sooner. Your child will hopefully be in your life for the next 50 years. So yeah, total boycott. It might drive a wedge between you and your sister. She is dating an abuser and that is a serious problem. Once you're not seeing her, I say phone check ins once a week, so she will still feel loved when she decides this guy is too much of an abuser for her.
posted by Kalmya at 11:00 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]

As a result of the on-going investigation (which we had no idea about), this guy is not allowed contact with any children until he's either released from police bail or charged.

Oh my gods, let your family squawk and grumble all they want. It's unforgivable that this guy has been looking after your kid while blithely omitting the fact that he's under investigation and not supposed to have contact with children. Plus, your kid doesn't like him. There is no reason to subject your kiddo to this guy's company.

I'm sorry that dealing with your extended family is going to be unpleasant. But you're not wrong here, this guy is an untrustworthy disrespectful liar -- he should have disclosed the investigation (including his side, even!) in the first place.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]

that he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't

While the guy's behaviour is obviously disturbing I think this it's great that your daughter (at a fairly young age) was able to understand that she can ask an adult to stop tickling if she doesn't like it and that she could escalate the issue up to you as parents when that didn't work. You listened, heard her and have protected her by making the call that he doesn't get to spend time with her.

There's a clear consensus to not worry about the reactions from the rest of the family and I do strongly agree with that. Unfortunately no matter how diplomatic you try to be I feel the underlying idea that you don't trust this guy will come through and it's a sensitive subject that induces strong feelings and there may not be a way to smooth this over.
posted by *becca* at 11:09 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]

And here's another thing: I guarantee you that even if your question read, "My sister is dating a guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize, cured cancer, and implemented a basic income system for the whole country," and then you went to tell us that your daughter said he tickles her and won't stop, the answers you would be getting here, except for the bail violation bit, would be EXACTLY THE SAME.
posted by JanetLand at 11:10 AM on May 11 [39 favorites]

I hope this doesn't count as a pile-on, but... I think you are 100% right to keep your child away from this man. He violated a boundary that she set, and that is not okay. I have no idea if he's really a predator, but your child feels unsafe around him. That's enough.

Ask yourself: If I was unjustly accused of sexual abuse, and was told as a condition of my bail that I could not be around children, what would I do? I know what I'd do. I would do my level best to avoid any situation involving children. I bet that's what you would do, too. Because we wouldn't want to go back to jail! It's not a difficult, subtle thing. It wasn't an accident. He knew the child would be there and he didn't remove himself.

Report him, and let the consequences take their course. You are not the one putting him in jail. He is putting himself in jail by refusing to abide by the terms of his bail.
posted by tuesdayschild at 11:10 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


1. Tell the cops. There's a reason he's under investigation and isn't supposed to be around kids. Help your kid/other kids by letting the police know that he violated his conditions.

2. If your sister still sees this guy after step 1, please, please, please tell everyone in your family with kids about his being under investigation and what he did to your kid. No other kid should have his/her boundaries violated.

3. Please, don't take your kids anywhere near where this guy is. Don't attend any gatherings where he's invited. He shows up to a family gathering, you and your kids are out. Make a stink about this, tell other parents that are there. No kid should have to be near this guy.

PLEASE REPORT HIM. Your kid might not be the only one he has access to!
posted by vivzan at 11:12 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]

Oh my god PLEASE report this guy. He is not some innocent accidental tickle monster. If he is unable to contain his desire for physical contact with children while under active investigation and court order, he is DANGEROUS. I had an acquaintance who was under investigation because he unknowingly whipped out his penis in front of a whole bunch of kids in order to pee (stupid drunk in a public park during baseball practice) and he told everyone what happened and stayed the hell away from trouble. That's the behavior of someone who is innocent. This guy is NOT.
posted by rada at 11:12 AM on May 11 [15 favorites]

my sister and this guy she's dating have routinely looked after my daughter once a week

I'm curious about when and why your sister began looking after your child once a week. Was it at your request? Or is this something your sister has been doing for her niece since before she began dating this guy? Or did these weekly outings begin after she began dating him? I guess what I'm asking is if this guy has anything to do with the fact your sister and he take your daughter out for such fun activities so often. If this guy has had anything to do with it, I'd report that to the court too.
posted by Transl3y at 11:32 AM on May 11 [28 favorites]

Good Lord.

Call the relevant jurisdiction immediately and tell them he’s violating his parole.

If you feel nervous about this, have your lawyer do it.

If you don’t have a lawyer, MeMail me (I’m a lawyer), and I’ll do it. For free, obvsly.
posted by Mr. Justice at 11:36 AM on May 11 [83 favorites]

If your family sides with this guy instead of with your children, I think it's ok to let it be ripped apart. You aren't the bad guys here! Your sister is in denial, and your wider family members are taking their cues from her and from their own prejudices about what "bad guys" look and act like. I'm sorry you are having to deal with this, but you are 100% in the right.

I'm on team Call The Authorities, btw. Turn his creepy ass in. Do his ex-wife and child a favor.
posted by clone boulevard at 11:37 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]

10,000% agree that you should never let your child be around this man ever again, even if you're there too. I also think that you have an obligation to report his violation to the proper authorities. Remember: you're not the one doing something wrong here - he is. What if he gets off for insufficient evidence and then goes on to molest other children?

But I also want to say something about your family: I understand it can be hard to contemplate having your entire family be mad at you. But if they choose some random guy, who is new on the scene and has been accused of molestation, over the child he scared and the mother - their blood relative! - who is just trying to protect her scared child? Damn, there is some fucked up stuff there and you are not causing it - you're just feeling the repercussions of it.

Sorry this is happening to your family - good luck.
posted by lunasol at 11:40 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]

Here's the rub. We know that he may not be charged simply due to insufficient evidence.

Good news: if he really has violated his bail conditions, that's evidence. Judges (as a rule) don't look kindly on people who violate court orders.

One way or another, you should get this evidence in front of a judge who will have the option of revoking bail, and if they do, you won't have to worry about seeing him for a while, as he will be in jail. The judge deserves to have as much information about this guy's behavior as possible when making this decision. You have crucial evidence.

It's possible your extended family may learn about your part in it, but you know, fuck 'em. He's violating a court order. That's not your fault. You're not reporting him for smoking dope because you don't like him.

(incidentally, repeatedly violating court orders not to contact children is exactly the sort of thing pedophiles do- an teacher at my old high school got caught with images of child sexual abuse, was let out on several hundred thousand dollars bail, and was subsequently caught skulking around childrens' sports games with a notepad. This is a thing they do.)
posted by BungaDunga at 11:43 AM on May 11 [15 favorites]

Report him, never let your child be near him, and let your family do whatever they feel like they have to do.

There is zero question in my mind that this is what needs to happen. He is under investigation for child-related crimes, had violated a court order prohibiting him from having contact with children, and has touched your child against her clearly-stated wishes. This person is not safe.

Your extended family's reaction doesn't matter here. It sucks if they give you grief over this, but that's not even in the same ballpark as the other stuff in terms of importance.

If this guy is innocent, he would be mortally terrified of doing anything that might get him sent to prison as a child molester, such as violating the conditions of his bail. Instead, he's touching other people's children against their will.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:46 AM on May 11 [17 favorites]

We face a problem in a week's time. WE will be the bad guys in our extended family's eyes for refusing to accept this guy back into the fold should he become "innocent"...

Don't make it about the court case then. Touch my kid after he told you not to, more than once? Fuck no.
posted by lyssabee at 11:53 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure who you'd tell (but I bet someone at the courthouse and/or this thread does) but you need to tell someone in law enforcement that he's been violating his court order, how many times, etc. Document it all, call them up, let them know. This is not a minor deal.

Also, let's assume this whole investigation was not a thing. If you have a bad vibe about a person, you are under absolutely no obligation to be around them, and certainly not to bring your kid around them. How you want to bring that up to your sister or family will depend on a lot of dynamics that I don't know about, but you are absolutely 100% in the right when it comes to your child here. He does not respect her bodily autonomy, and that is not okay.
posted by Urban Winter at 12:02 PM on May 11

This question has left me livid and deeply disturbed for the entire workday. I don't care if this has become a pile-on. I cannot believe the way this question is framed, and I am appalled that social niceties have ANYTHING to do with the obvious fact that a sexual predator of children has been 'tickling' your daughter and won't stop, and is under court order to have no contact with children. The only thing you should care about is getting your daughter age-appropriate therapy, reporting his violation of the court order immediately, and spreading the word far and wide among family to make sure the man has no contact with anyone else's children. This is such classic, textbook, sexual abuse 101 that I am speechless at the response. Please, understand how serious this is, and get your priorities in line please, in order protect your child from him. This is exactly how people end up with their childhood and adulthood literally destroyed, because people didn't take these loud, strobe-light-level, deafening signs for what they are. I can't even process the fact that he even has a court order against contact with children and this is supposedly somehow a nebulous situation.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 12:19 PM on May 11 [59 favorites]

I too am disturbed that this is even a question. I hope this thread clarifies things for you and that you take the necessary action to protect your child.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:31 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Maybe you will be the bad guy to some members of your family. But you have a chance to be a hero for your child and for other children that this guy might be targeting. Report him for violating the terms of his bail and keep your child away from him totally. Being a hero means being a bad guy to some people.
posted by CMcG at 12:35 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]

We face a problem in a week's time. WE will be the bad guys in our extended family's eyes for refusing to accept this guy back into the fold should he become "innocent".

Please do your very best to never, ever let your daughter discover this was a consideration that weighed with you when you were deciding how and to what extent you would inconvenience yourselves for her welfare. And while you cannot help feeling whatever you feel, behave outwardly as though it never was a consideration. People forgive their parents things like this sometimes but not always.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:47 PM on May 11 [20 favorites]

Sometimes when I start questioning the decisions I'm making as a parent (like: am I being too hard on someone because it's my kid and I'm blinded by that fact?), I do the thing where I try to put myself in the other person's shoes and then I ask "Is what I'm doing reasonable?" So for the sake of this exercise, let's do that.

Things I Would Do If I Were Falsely Accused Of A Crime Against A Child
  1. Strictly obey the terms of my parole. Not only because the alternative is going back to jail, but because:
  2. Upon being pronounced innocent, begin the arduous process of proving to my girlfriend that I am a person worthy of spending time with her 3-year-old-niece
Things I Would Definitely Not Do
  1. Misrepresent the charges against myself in hopes that my current partner will not find out about them, because dude, it's 2018 and we all have internet.
  2. Violate the terms of my probation in any way, knowing that doing so will cause me to lose the presumption of innocence by both the judge and my family
  3. Touch any child, anywhere, ever, for any reason, regardless of any conditions of my parole
  4. ...especially in a way that would cause that 3-year-old to go tell her parents that I was violating boundaries, because JESUS FUCK
  5. Allow my behavior to become a wedge between members of an otherwise happy and functional family
In conclusion, this guy is a scumbag, you're totally within your rights to make a stink about this even if it will harm your relationship with your family, and you should 100% report this guy to the police, because the next woman he dates might have a 3-year-old niece whose parents aren't as internet savvy as you are.
posted by Mayor West at 12:51 PM on May 11 [40 favorites]

Regardless of his innocence, he violated your daughter's boundaries. Ask any family members who give you shit over your decision to explain why you should prioritize this dude's place in the family over your daughter's. Ask them why they are doing so.
posted by rtha at 12:51 PM on May 11 [16 favorites]

I'm a bit confused as to who knew what, and when. You wrote:

- we decided there were enough red flags about this guy to want to pursue a police background check

- the on-going investigation (which we had no idea about)

- We know that he may not be charged simply due to insufficient evidence

- The rest of my family are ready to, at the point he may be released from bail and not charged, declare his now undisputed innocence and welcome him back into the fold. They have been determined throughout the allegations are unfounded.

- WE will be the bad guys in our extended family's eyes

[emphasis mine].

If these legal proceedings only came to light because of the background check you and your SO initiated, your extended family should be grateful to you for exposing this liar in their midst as well as absolutely horrified that he's been babysitting.

If they knew about it, including the bit about being BARRED FROM CONTACT WITH CHILDREN, and decided for you that your kid was safe in his care, they should should be dead to you already.

- By the way: we haven't lost sight of the (very real) possibility he is totally innocent

He isn't innocent. He deliberately, repeatedly violated a court order. Please alert the authorities. I'm with thegreatfleecircus -- the framing of this question is bizarre and your priorities are misplaced. Your relationship with your daughter is strong, and that's great. Focus on that, and never allow her to be in this guy's vicinity again.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:55 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]

Haven't read any of the answers so far, my need to respond is so urgent.

NO NO NO!! I was once a little girl. Please, for God's sake, do not allow your daughter to ever have to be near an adult male who "tickles" her and won't stop. This is so awful, it still makes my stomach hurt 65 years later. Sometimes guys get carried away playing with little girls, as opposed to the play-rough housing they may do with little boys, but tickling when the girl doesn't like it -- I don't care whether or not he can be charged with something else, or what anybody else thinks about him. It's enough if you are just willing to say "He touches her when she wants him to stop and we will not allow him to be alone with her." And tell her, too. This is so important. Just calmly, "We don't want you to be with him because he doesn't listen to you, so if he's there, you can come and be with us." No confrontations, no narratives, no drama, just simple statements of calm fact. And watch him like a hawk.

If you don't, it can get really really awful quickly, and there's no good way to heal it. My prayers go with you and your daughter.
posted by kestralwing at 1:29 PM on May 11 [14 favorites]

The comment from your child is enough to base a decision on.
posted by slidell at 1:30 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]

Aside from ALL the other massive red flags here (and I am a huge believer in innocent until proven guilty and second chances and all that stuff), your child is uncomfortable around him. That is all that matters, regardless of anything else. Your child has a right to say she doesn't want to be around certain people AND to not be forced to be around them without you there. Period.
posted by biscotti at 1:32 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

The problem is we just don't want to rip the wider family apart, if we can help it, by protecting our children from a possible threat.

This sentiment is a big contributor to the prevalence of child sex abuse. I'm too angry rn to write more.
posted by Stonkle at 2:41 PM on May 11 [34 favorites]

You absolutely need to immediately eliminate any access he has to your child. You should report everything to the police.

If you do not, you risk being investigated by child services and/or the police for failure to protect your child, which in some jurisdictions could result in losing custody. This is incredibly serious stuff.

The police may arrange for your child to be interviewed by a trained forensic interviewer at a child advocacy center, which could possibly elicit further disclosure about the “tickling.”

You need to be an advocate for your child in this situation.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:43 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

[This is a followup from the asker.]
1) We have no qualms about preventing this person from looking after our child in the future and WILL be doing so. The question was more about HOW to do so without ripping the family apart. Rest assured considerate mefites - we WILL be keeping him away from our child.

2) I wasn't clear enough here, either. AFAWK, this guy has not seen our child since bail conditions were imposed.
(We are shocked, though, that he was in effect self-policing his own bail conditions. We were not contacted by law enforcement and told about the bail conditions).
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on May 11


"We can't come if Phil's there. Phil has been inappropriate with kiddo and has a court order barring him from contact with children."

"Kiddo can't hang out with you, sis, sorry. Why? It sounds like Phil comes around sometimes, and we can't have kiddo anywhere around Phil. Phil's been inappropriate with kiddo; and he's got a court order barring him from contact with children."

I mean what else can you say? You can't be neutral about it.

This isn't you tearing the family apart. If anyone's doing anything like that it's him, and it's your sister for making this guy your family's problem.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:34 PM on May 11 [15 favorites]

Thank you for your follow-up. I'm so relieved to hear that you will be keeping your child from being watched by this person. I hope you will also strongly consider the advise to not attend family gatherings where he will be present.

In this situation, you have to be completely honest with your family and take the risk of causing drama. Because otherwise you are risking your daughter. If you don't tell them that he cannot be around her because of his history and her experience with him, then what's to stop them from inviting your sister and her boyfriend over while your daughter is there?

In my family there have been multiple generations of children abused by the same predator because people wanted to hide accusations and keep things polite. Please don't let this happen to your daughter.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 3:46 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]

thank you for the follow up, anon.

your actions will not rip your family apart. family members may want to blame you, but the cause here of any disruption is the combination of the boyfriend's behavior with your child, the boyfriend's legal problems, and a group dynamic where some relatives don't want to think about either of these things.
posted by zippy at 3:51 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]

and should it come to pass that the court ordered limitation drops for lack of evidence, that changes nothing. "No we can't come if Phil's there. He's been inappropropriately handsy with kiddo." That's it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:53 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]

Ok, I may not have this right, but I think you’re worried abt the scenario where BF is cleared of charges, has no conditions set, and Family is pestering you to sweep the whole thing under the rug and go back to hanging out with BF. Here are some things you can say:

That old metafilter standby: “I’m sorry that won’t be possible.”

“This my decision as the parent and I’m not going to discuss it further.”

“I have made my decision and it’s not up for discussion.”

Just remain calm and firm. You cannot control other people’s freak outs. And this thread is happening cus you are making the right call.
posted by CMcG at 3:54 PM on May 11 [14 favorites]

> The question was more about HOW to do so without ripping the family apart.

You will not be doing any ripping. Family members who take issue with who you allow your kid to be with and make a deal out of it are the ones doing the ripping. Your responsibility is to your child, and anyone in the family who takes issue with that needs to be asked why they are doing so.
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on May 11 [16 favorites]

wait, did you tell anyone yet about what your kid said?

because if not, I mean, you're not even giving them a chance to do the right thing. Especially your sister.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:02 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]

Just out of curiosity, was your sister present for these "tickling" incidents? If so, why didn't she intervene to stop the boyfriend when he failed to listen to your daughter asking him to stop? If this is the case, I'd seriously question your sister's judgement- even if creep-o boyfriend winds up out of the picture, I'd avoid entrusting your child to her care going forward. (Also, if she left your daughter alone with her boyfriend- was this OK'd with you beforehand? )
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:09 PM on May 11

Your extended family is dysfunctional, and them wanting to make you feel bad for protecting your child proves it.

I came to say this, and was happy to read your follow-up saying that you have no intention of letting him see your child again.

However, I'm still surprised that the question is not "how to do this without ripping the family apart," but rather "should we even maintain contact with an extended family that would stand up for maintaining social niceties with this guy at the expense of protecting a child?" I'm especially concerned about your sister's judgement and values as described here.

In other words, don't worry about smoothing over your decision with them. Let them worry about convincing you that they are people that you want in your lives.
posted by rpfields at 4:12 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]

The question was more about HOW to do so without ripping the family apart

This is not under your control. You don't get to determine how other people react to things, especially when for whatever reason it's more important to them that your sister and this guy experience no consequences for his life choices than you getting to make your parenting decisions about your daughter's safety.

You may very politely and vaguely say you've made other arrangements for childcare and they could all lose their shit, there's nothing you can do about it if that's what they want to do. They may absolutely insist, upon threat of "ripping the family apart", that you leave your daughter alone with him at length because...because they need to control you in this way or want to make this guy happy or whatever, who knows. What's your priority there, not ripping the family apart or something else? You decide what you will and won't do, because that's what you can control. If the family gets ripped apart because you don't want your kid molested and they...do?...wouldn't it be better if the family WAS ripped apart?
posted by Lyn Never at 4:20 PM on May 11 [16 favorites]

Dealing with your family when they give you shit: no need to talk about the charges because you'll just get the whole "innocent until proven guilty". If you're forced into discussing it, tell them your daughter is scared (they will minimise 'uncomfortable') and that he keeps touching her when she tells him no. Then do the broken record thing: no, I'm not leaving daughter with someone who scares her. No, it is not "good for her character" to be forced to accept her boundaries being broken. No, I will not now or ever leave my daughter with someone who scares her.

Keep repeating yourself until they shut up. Maybe ask why they would be happy for daughter to be scared. Maybe not.

Good luck. I've experienced family splits in protecting my daughter and as painful as it was, it was certainly worth it, and I never regretted it.
posted by b33j at 4:25 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]

Unfortunately, I agree that Dolley is probably correct and your child has already been touch inappropriately, at the very least.

I hope you have called the prosecutor already. I'll be thinking of you this weekend. I'm estranged from my extended family due to abuse and I'm happiy married with a seven year old and a great community around me. YOU WILL BE FINE. Make that call if you have not already. Memail if you need moral support or questions about forging your own path forward without dysfunctional family or their baggage. It's possible to thrive AND do the right thing. Courage!
posted by jbenben at 4:26 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry. I just read your update.

SHORT TERM: Tell your family you are taking a break, that you need time to process what's going on.

LONG TERM: Wait for this guy to be convicted. If your daughter has been inappropriately touched or anything worse, report it. If you're not sure, call the prosecutors and ask about the dates of his bail contingencies and the rules going forward.

MEDIUM TERM: Speak with professionals or seek resources about how to deal with family that is dysfunctional, how to deal when a sibling or close friend is in an abusive relationship, and especially how to proceed in family situations where sexual abuse of minors is a factor.

These types of resources exist around these topics and you should get yourself armed with the best information so you can proceed with kindness, confidence, and strength.

Finally, seek individual counseling to help you process your extended family's WILDLY upsetting position towards you and your 3 year old daughter. How her wellbeing is not paramount for them, I don't know. Seek peace within yourself, they've made the wrong choice here and I predict that will eventually become known to all. Stay strong until they get themselves on the right page regarding their own safety and your daughter's safety. Sorry they're not up to speed. Be strong while they maybe (or maybe never) get right on this issue.
posted by jbenben at 4:38 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]

AFAWK, this guy has not seen our child since bail conditions were imposed.

Have you confirmed the date parameters of his bail conditions?
posted by delight at 5:03 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]

"...he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't."

I'll go ahead and say this can be considered torture. Little kids pee in front of others when they're tickled, and that's humiliating. One can't stop gasping with nonstop tickling. It sounds like laughter but it isn't. You sound like you're acquiescing but you're gasping for breath. You know you're not in charge of your body. You can't get away because you're small. You can't say it's not right because you don't have words. You think you're being a spoilsport because everyone around thinks it's cute. It. is. fucked. up.
posted by goofyfoot at 5:56 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]

> he 'tickles' her, she's asked him to stop, and he doesn't.

Coming from a three year old with limited vocabulary, this could be a description of actual sexual assault. Like... what body parts is this shithead touching with his "tickling"?

You need to get your kid in to see a therapist to assess this, and you need to see about reporting this man for violating his bail.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:36 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]

But if they choose some random guy, who is new on the scene and has been accused of molestation, over the child he scared and the mother - their blood relative! - who is just trying to protect her scared child? Damn, there is some fucked up stuff there and you are not causing it - you're just feeling the repercussions of it.

"should we even maintain contact with an extended family that would stand up for maintaining social niceties with this guy at the expense of protecting a child?"

On the one hand, ripping your family apart. On the other hand, letting your three year old get raped for the sake of family harmony.

No, seriously, this family NEEDS to have you and yours ripped out of it if they support a child molester over you and the precious granddaughter. SERIOUSLY. You need to rip yourselves on out of there if they can't act sane and reasonable and kick the fucker out of the family. There is no "nice" way to do it if this situation is that insane and extreme. "Sorry, can't come to Grandma's birthday dinner if Chester the Molester is gonna be there! Thanks anyway!" is about as "nice" as you could get.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:55 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]

Here are the questions you should be asking about your daughter, not your moronic extended family:

Q: Should I report my daughter's possible sexual assault to the police?
A: Yes.

Q: Should my daughter see a qualified child therapist experienced with abuse?
A: Yes

Q: Should my daughter ever see my sister again?
A: No
posted by medusa at 7:24 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]

so when you keep saying "extended family," you mean your sister and I guess your parents, maybe some other adults, right? not, like, any other siblings or cousins with children of their own.

choosing not to report his contact with your child is something you can do. you can say Not our problem and wash your hands of it and just watch your own kids and they'll be ok from now on.

but it's not something you can justify if there are other children in this undefined extended family. other than his own, I mean. if there are other kids besides yours at these "occasional family functions," you have an obligation.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:59 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

WE will be the bad guys in our extended family's eyes for refusing to accept this guy back into the fold

How will you feel if he harms your children? Be bad guys, keep him away.

Also, why are you not contacting the court re: no contact with children? Please do that Monday.
posted by Toddles at 9:35 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

I've worked as a therapist with adolescent and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

In my experience, those that had the strongest sense of self and the strongest coping mechanisms and the most psychiatric stability were those whose families separated them immediately and permanently from the abuser, regardless of whether it ripped the family apart. Those who struggled the most with shame, guilt, anger, self-harm, self-blame, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other psychiatric symptoms and mental illness were those whose families didn't cut out the abuser. I found that true regardless of how "serious" the abuse was. The differential seemed to be whether their parents/guardians kept them away from the abuser, regardless of consequences. Doing so seemed to teach these girls/women that they were worth standing up for, that they had inherent value, that they could speak up and be respected and not be expected to "make nice" on holidays even when they were having PTSD flashbacks.

Please don't prioritize the extended family here. I'm sorry, it sucks, but your family should also be prioritizing your daughter. If they're not, you have to prioritize her anyway.
posted by lazuli at 9:37 PM on May 11 [61 favorites]

You what we did? Rather than call anyone in the family out on their behavior (or their insistence that we "be polite"), we proactively spoke, long and loud, about how we were teaching our child (now children) about boundaries, and that they have the right to autonomy over their own body.

We said that we would not force our children to hug or kiss anyone, and that they must always be asked if they want to give a hug or kiss, and if not they were to be met with simply "okay", and never be shamed or manipulated into showing affection.

When they were babies, we demonstrated that we never picked kiddo up without letting him know first, making eye contact, and waiting for him to indicate that he was ready to be picked up. So many people just grab an unsuspecting kid off the floor, and our reasoning was that it you wouldn't randomly pick up an older person without warning, it's not cool to do to a baby or little kid either.

As soon as each of my children learned to say the word "No!" I taught them to say "Respect my boundaries!", and loud at that. If the child ever used that phrase we would back them up "I heard him say no to you, and to respect his boundaries. You were tickling him and he doesn't like that. He doesn't want to be tickled."

We explained that our reasoning for all of this was so that kiddo would learn to stick up for himself, and that mom and dad will always have his back. So it looked on the surface that this was all in teaching kiddo to build a defense against "scary strangers" that might touch inappropriately. Once we explained it that way, no one has ever pushed back, at least not overtly.

But yeah, we've kept the kiddos right next to us when we've had to see pushy relatives with poor boundaries who like to pinch and grab and tickle (and have taken the first step of saying "no, he doesn't want to have a hug right now" before they even ask). In one case we just stopped inviting over the friend with the creepy boyfriend who thought he was exempt from not playing tickle games. There was only one incident, that happened right in front of us, that I just didn't like. There was no confrontation, just "sorry we're super busy right now. I can meet you for lunch on a weekday...".

For some reason lots of people think it's okay to touch or grab a child completely without warning or invitation. I was taught to think of it like if you wouldn't treat an 80 year old person that way, you shouldn't treat an 8mo or 8yo that way either. Everyone deserves respect. It sounds like this is a point of view that needs to be taught to your extended family. Once the family can understand the situation in the context that your kiddo is having her boundaries violated, there really shouldn't be any discussion after that.

If they choose to continue to be deliberately dense about it, you are not the one causing the problem.

And keep in mind that "crazy recognizes crazy" or perhaps in this case it might be "trauma recognizes trauma" and despite the fact that it's effed up, familiarity feels safe. If the family won't maintain distance from this individual, you've got to double down in maintaining your distance from them. Just keep the perspective of boundaries at the forefront; it's not the kind if thing that can be logically argued against.
posted by vignettist at 9:38 PM on May 11 [20 favorites]

Many others have said this already but here's yet another person with this opinion/mindset:

Your daughter has already stated her preferences, and given you valid reasons to back up the preferences. Support your daughter's wishes in this. Your daughter isn't looking to villainize this guy nearly as much as she is looking to GET HIM TO NOT TOUCH HER ANY MORE by not spending time in close proximity to him, which is totally within bounds.

Back your daughter. Teach her that her statements will be listened to, by at least one adult in her life. If/when your sister asks, say thanks but you've decided to make other child-watching arrangements. Keep Skeeve-o away from your kid.
posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 10:34 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]

Be the bad guy. Do it for your daughter. You love her more than anything in the world. Deal with the scary things that will happen for her.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:51 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

As it regards your daughter, you've found the consensus you were looking for but it's also your duty to report this. Part of the social compact is an obligation to protect each other's kids. Don't just look the other way and let things take their course.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:31 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the update, anon. The thing is, the situation is so over-the-top. I don’t think you understand yet.

Why is it that you can’t depend on your family to take care of your daughter and support you? Most situations where I have had to protect my child have never come close to “my feelings were reinforced by an actual court order stating Creepy Handsy Guy should stay away from all children.”

Like...I don’t think you have grasped that if your extended family is going to pressure you to allow a guy into your life who has been charged but not convicted of child abuse to access your three year old daughter, they are so messed up. So. Messed. Up. There is no way to placate that level of crazy that is safe. Your effort is going in the wrong direction. They should be insisting he never attend another event with kids ever /to/ you.

However, I have that level of crazy in my life and here are some words: “Family, I am my daughter’s parent and it’s my job to keep her safe. I am not debating about Boyfriend any more, I am not a lawyer or a judge. I am my child’s parent and I believe this is an unsafe situation and my decision is final. You don’t have to agree with me. That said, my daughter will not be at any event with Boyfriend and if any of you can’t babysit for her without him there, then you can’t have her over when I’m not there. Thanks for understanding.”

Then you walk away. You don’t engage. You don’t gossip about Boyfriend. You don’t have to do bizarre roundabout investigations or wait for the police to contact you. I get that you’re scared, that you wish you didn’t have to argue with your family or figure things out without the police dropping by but...that is not how it works, unfortunately. Now you’ve had either a close call or it’s happened and your child has been groped. It’s terrifying and easy to focus on the wrong thing. If you haven’t read Protecting the Gift or The Gift of Fear, this is a great time.

From here...you trust your instincts and information about who to exclude from your daughter’s life. You focus on that and speak your truth as a parent. Other people should support you, even if you’re overreacting or wrong (you’re not. You underreacted.) If they don’t, they are not safe...you can love them, but they are not full members of Team Daughter Safety. You got lucky here because most child violating people don’t come with bail requirements.

Please put your energy into those boundaries and not managing the adults’’ feelings.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:29 AM on May 12 [17 favorites]

I'm going to make two massive assumptions.

1. Your family does not know what your daughter said.

2. Your family knows you did a background check on your sister's boyfriend and that stirred up a lot of shit because they don't know WHY you did it and they think you're being a jerk to keep your kids away from him.

But none of this matters, and you've really lost sight of the important thing. And I'm not sure why you did a background check--your kid reported something--that should have been enough. The background check isn't relevant, nor is whatever happens in the court. Your child reported scary behavior. Your only concern should be protecting her. So you keep her away from him--at all gatherings. You tell your family that you won't be able to attend.

Stop focusing on your sense of ripping your family apart, and focus on helping your child.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:54 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

I'm going to try and answer your actual question, although I agree 1000% that the overwhelmingly most important things here are 1: protect your daughter and 2: protect other children by reporting this guy's bail violations.

The only thing you can really do here is to not make this about how your extended family members are bad people for protecting some rando who is probably a pedophilic sexual predator over your three-year-old daughter. It would be tempting to cast judgments at them here, but since your goal is to preserve a good relationship with them you'll need to keep such judgments to yourself. Don't make this about them, and try to deflect if they make it about them. Just say something along the lines of, "Mom [or whoever], I love you, but this is what I feel I need to do as a parent for the sake of my daughter, and it's not up for discussion," and then change the subject and refuse to be baited into further conversation about it.

Focus on how this is a situation in which a newcomer to your family circle has repeatedly touched your daughter against her stated wishes, while under a court-administered no-contact order. (It would be no different if it were a longstanding member such as your own father, but fortunately that's not the case so you needn't get into that.) Draw a line around that and don't talk about how your other family members' reactions to this situation reflect on them as people. If they try to draw you in, just say, "It's not about that, this is about my daughter and what I feel I must do for her safety." If necessary, resort to, "I'm sorry, but if you insist on trying to continue this conversation then I'll have to leave," and follow through if they don't stop at that point.

It's not a perfect solution. If your family members want to create drama around this, you can't stop them. That's on them, though—not you. The best you can do is refuse to participate. Reassure your family members that you love them very much (assuming that's true) but insist that you've made your final decision as a parent and that discussion of it is unwelcome. There may still be fallout, but you'll have done what you can to minimize it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:48 AM on May 12 [6 favorites]

You shouldn't care what the family says. Stay away from the guy
When it comes to children, trust your gut feelings.

He may be not guilty of the charges, but he's certainty not an innocent.
posted by james33 at 6:54 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

How long has your sister been with this guy? Why the hell is your extended family "siding" with him? Honestly, who the fuck cares if this is what rips your extended family apart: you unquestionably have the moral high ground and honestly you ought to feel totally justified in low-key (or high-key, honestly) shaming your relatives who are sticking up for this guy over sticking up for you and your small child. "My child's safety is what's most important to me, and my child doesn't feel safe with him, so she and we will not be spending any time with sister's boyfriend."

Your priority is your children's safety. If this guy gets cleared, just keep telling your family, "I understand that, but my child isn't a judge or a jury, and she feels uncomfortable with him and doesn't like him. I believe her, and I want her to feel safe."
posted by yasaman at 6:21 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]

Something else I don't think that's been mentioned here: if there are other younger people in the family, by modeling this calm, firm insistence on the important of physical boundaries now, you are distinctly increasing the chances that, should they ever be subject to sexual abuse or violence from any quarter (sadly more likely in today's society than we would like to think), you will be known as Aunt and Uncle That Shit IS a Big Deal and It Is NOT Fucking Okay. Being known as older relatives who will definitely have their niece's, etc. back...that may be more important than may be apparent just at this very moment.
posted by praemunire at 8:44 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]

man i hope you reported the guy and had a talk with your sister so she knows who she's dealing with. and yeah ok just gonna say it. if people want to cut ties/other with you because you're prioritizing your kids safety that tells you a lot about them. if you talked to the authorities re this deal, the rest of this is pretty much out of your hands.

def. focus on getting your kiddo some help - you don't want her to feel guilty/ashamed/responsible for anything - kids are really sensitive about this sort of thing.

also, get yourself a copy of the gift of fear. that book is legit.
posted by speakeasy at 12:06 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

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