DEAR ABBY: "A Dad in a Dilemma" wrote that his ex-wife informed him she's moving in with a registered sex offender, and he's concerned about sending his girls to stay overnight with her. Your advice to not let his daughters stay at their mother's house was correct.
I am a police detective in a sex crimes unit. Probably 90 percent of our sexual assault victims are children. Sex offenders, especially those who victimize children, have a very high rate of recidivism. Additionally, many child sex offenders are prohibited from having ANY contact with children under the age of 10 and can be arrested if they do so.
"Dad" can contact his local law enforcement agency or the man's probation officer to determine whether the man is allowed to have contact with minor children. Even if there is a custody arrangement which states that his ex-wife gets to see their daughters, he should contact the attorney and do everything possible to keep the girls from having any contact with this man. He should not rely on his ex to provide the proper supervision, as she has already shown a severe lack of judgment in exposing her other child to this risk. -- POLICE OFFICER IN COLORADO
DEAR POLICE OFFICER: Thanks for adding your expert opinion to my original advice. "Dad in a Dilemma's" letter generated a flood of mail from alarmed readers. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I work with an attorney who handles the legalities when children are removed and detained by child protective services. We have a number of cases where children were removed from one parent because of socialization with sex offenders.
"Dad" should research this person's criminal background. If he can't get the full history, he needs to get the local law enforcement or child protective services agency involved. -- A WORD TO THE WISE, CRESCENT CITY, CALIF.
DEAR WISE: A helpful suggestion. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: You were right telling "Dad" not to let his daughters visit his ex-wife. No sex offender should have such easy access. Even though the mother might be present in the house, sex offenders need only a moment to satisfy their twisted urges.
"Dad" would be wise to notify the court that issued the custody award for the daughters of the changed circumstances and to seek an immediate modification of the visitation. (This is in case the ex-wife wants to exercise her visitation rights despite the obvious risks.) A modification of the decree would prevent such a problem.
If "Dad" can't afford a lawyer to get the change made, most state bar associations have a list of attorneys who will work "pro bono" (for free), and many attorneys, once aware of the circumstances, will help because they are parents also. -- AN ATTORNEY WHO CARES
DEAR ATTORNEY: I am sure your advice about "pro bono" legal services will be of interest to many people. Thank you for it. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I know what can be lost if "Dad's" daughters end up in the clutches of this registered sex offender who was convicted of aggravated assault on a 10-year-old.
The fact is, the ex-wife's new boyfriend is a danger to "Dad's" girls. He should insist that his ex sign a legally binding document that visitations NEVER occur in the company of her boyfriend. Period. If she refuses, he should take it to court. "Dad's" daughters must be protected from their mother's bad choices. -- STILL SURVIVING IN L.A.
DEAR SURVIVING: How true.