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DEAR ABBY: I am concerned for my sister, "Sharon." She has been divorced for four years and hasn't been able to find a decent man.

Sharon is 42, has a good job and is intelligent. Recently, she brought "Rick" to our family reunion. We were all impressed with this handsome, well-educated professional man.

Well, she recently confided that Rick has been married four times, and if that wasn't enough to deter her, she also said he had served time in jail for molesting his 6-year-old daughter. Our family is in an uproar!

Sharon doesn't seem to think this is an issue because her sons are all grown. We have all told her that we don't want him around.

I'm so worried for my sister. How desperate must she be to have a man in her life to settle for a child molester? What should we do? Can child molesters be rehabilitated? -- SICKENED SISTER IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR SICKENED SISTER: My experts have told me that although child molesters "can" be rehabilitated, the success rate is very low. If your sister marries this man, he should not be allowed to be around minor children, including grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighborhood children. Indeed, as a condition of his release from prison, he may not be allowed to be.

DEAR ABBY: Ever since my dad got the promotion to a job he always dreamed of, we got rich. We moved to a different city, a better neighborhood and a nicer house. We live next door to an even richer family. They are very snobbish. Nevertheless, my mom thinks they are "perfect."

My mom is always trying to set up play dates with these neighbors' creepy son, "Jared." Jared is a bad kid. He is racist and lies to his parents all the time. What should I do? Every time I tell my mom, she says I need to "extend" myself. But I can't stand only being friends with Jared because our mothers are friends. -- FAKING IN WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.

DEAR FAKING: If you are living in a nicer house in a better neighborhood, it should follow that you are also attending a "better" school. Surely there are extracurricular activities offered at your school that would give you an opportunity to interact with other kids -- and therefore have less time to "play" with Jared. That's what I'm advising you to look into.

In spite of his financial advantages, he appears to be a troubled, unhappy and angry boy who might benefit from counseling. And you should not be spending all your time with just one "friend," if you can be part of a larger crowd.

DEAR ABBY: I spend lots of time and money on my flower garden. While I'm outside working, it is not unusual for complete strangers to stop and ask me for plants and bulbs. Believe it or not, three women were even brazen enough to ring my doorbell.

It is one thing to share flowers with friends and family -- but with people I don't even know? Please give me a clever response to these nervy individuals. -- APPALLED IN WINCHESTER, VA.

DEAR APPALLED: You should count yourself lucky that these "nervy individuals" are asking for the plants and not pinching them. Sadly, I have heard from other frustrated horticulturalists whose gardens have been denuded by people who simply helped themselves.

As to what to say to people who ring your bell asking for plants, rather than being put off, why not give them the name and address of the nursery where you buy your own? That's what I'd do -- unless I offered them a cutting so they could root their own plants.

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