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by Abigail Van Buren

Niece Is Shocked To Learn Reason Uncle Is in Prison

DEAR ABBY: I cannot believe it! My parents tricked me into comforting a child molester.

When I was young, my uncle "Dave" went to prison. My family told it like this: "Dave had an affair with a 17-year-old girl who was pretending to be 18. They made a sex tape, her parents found it and accused him of rape. He went to prison for life."

My parents visit and talk to him regularly, although nobody else in the extended family does, and they always encouraged me to communicate with him. They say he made "poor decisions" but doesn't deserve his prison sentence or the family neglect. I felt bad for him, so I willingly joined in phone calls and letter writing.

I recently mentioned all this to a friend who is experienced in the legal field. He thought the story sounded peculiar, so we looked up Dave and found out he had multiple counts of sexual assault on a child under 14. In other words, my parents tricked me into regular conversations with a child molester.

I'm floored. Should I confront them? If so, what do I say? Should I tell my brother? I want nothing to do with Dave, and I'm horrified that my parents would lie in his defense. -- HORRIFIED IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR HORRIFIED: I can understand why you want nothing to do with this relative. Tell your parents that you have written to me. Ask them why they chose to minimize what your uncle did and encourage you to communicate with a predator. Doing so was a gross betrayal of your trust. I'm not sure how they can justify their actions because it is the job of parents to protect their child.

You should absolutely tell your brother what has been happening because it's appalling.

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