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Dear Dr. Robert,

I live in the United States, I have lived with a man from mexico city, mexico for almost 2 years, I have just found out that he has touched my daughter, I am devastated , I love him with all my heart, and i want to hurt him bad for touching my daughter. I am confused as to what to do.

At church, the sermon last sunday was to forgive, god created us out of dirt, and made us in his image, jesus died for our sins, jesus even forgave mary magdelene the prostitute, maybe you know this, I don't know if I am trying to justify myself for wanting to help him, I don't know , no one even in my family can believe it, they all loved him too.

I told him to go away , go back home to mexico and never come back, but i can not do this without knowing he will get help, I have told his oldest brother everything that happened, his brother has 4 daughters, he has assured me he would watch out for him and get him help.

I would like to know if you know of any such doctors or could refer me to a doctor for therapy to help him so this wouldn't happen again. If he went to jail here if he didn't get killed, I doubt they have counselors, in this area who speak spanish and could help him, but he is also illegal and I have been told they would just deport him anyway.

To save my daughter the trauma, I just want him to go away. But I cant stop my feelings, he has helped me so much until this happened. I want him to get help, I would like to send him the name of a doctor who could help him in his city, and ask of there confidentiality laws, or if he admits he needs help what do they do to him in mexico.

Please help me and respond soon. Lisa


To begin with, Lisa, I am sorry for your troubles. It must be a horribly painful experience to learn that your daughter has been abused and sexually molested by a man you have loved and trusted.

I do understand your desire to try to get therapy for this man, but I am afraid that on that score I have bad news for you. In my experience, and in my professional opinion, it is very unlikely that such a person can be helped in any significant way by psychotherapy or by any other kind of treatment. Almost without exception, men who abuse young children will continue to do so no matter how much therapy they may receive. Often such people pretend to have been helped by therapy, and some may even believe that they have been helped, but almost always they offend again at the earliest opportunity. In fact, your daughter is probably not this fellow's first victim; there may already have been many for all you know.

In my opinion, it is urgent that such people be kept away from children, no matter waht that might entail. The only way that you can help with this is to make totally public what this man has done, so that at least other parents might be warned, and so might have the possibility of protecting their children from him. You should begin by immediately reporting this crime to the police. This man should be arrested and dealt with by the proper authorities, not by you or by his family, who most likely would try to shield and protect him. In other words, it is not your boyfriend who needs to be protected, but the innocent girls of this world who are his possible next victims.

You will not be protecting your daughter from trauma by sweeping this crime under the rug. She already has been traumatized by the abuse. Now she, and you, not your boyfriend, need therapy, and I urge you to get it. You will need therapy to resolve the conflict you feel between your love for this criminal and your love for your daughter. You must be feeling terribly guilty yourself for having brought this offender into your home and having exposed your daughter to him. I know this was not your fault, but you don't know that yet, and therapy will help you to know it. Your daughter's state of mind needs to be investigated, and, if necessary, treated by a person experienced in child sexual abuse. This is urgently important since the trauma she has suffered will only fester and continue to damage her all the more if it is swept under the rug as you so far have done.

In my opinion, as I read your letter, you are correct in suspecting that you are misunderstanding and using religious teachings on forgiveness in order to justify avoiding taking proper action in this case, which is to report your boyfriend to the police immediately.

To begin with, Mary Magdelene was not a child molester; she was a prostitute, which in those days was not even a crime, but simply a social function, a way of earning a living, that is. As I understand the Mary Magdelene story, Jesus favored her among all of his disciples because he loved her--perhaps even physically (although this is controversial). In loving her, and in accepting her as a spiritually realized person--a truly loving person, that is--part of Jesus' message was simply, it seems to me, that sexuality and its satisfaction between consenting adults is not a sin, but a natural and normal part of human life. Unfortunately, the corrupt Council of Nicea, convened for political reasons more than 300 years after Jesus' death, completely distorted the Jesus message, making Jesus into a "god" rather than understanding Jesus as a spiritually realized teacher, a man, that is, but a man who understood and practiced the blessing of love. And once Jesus is seen as a god, not a man, the rest of us become "sinners," and our normal behaviors, including sexuality, sins.

When Jesus taught forgiveness, he was not saying that crimes should be swept under the rug, as you seem tempted to do, but that we should understand that people do what they must, based upon heredity and environment, and so, ultimately, are not responsible for their crimes. In other words, as I understand Jesus' message, forgiveness means to grasp and understand that in each moment things are as they are, and cannot be any different. That is the meaning of the words "forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do." But this does not mean that child molesters should not be imprisoned. In other words, I can forgive your boyfriend because, as a psychologist I know that he is psychopathic, or, at the very least, horribly emotionally distorted, and so was just doing what he had to do, what he was programmed by genetic inheritance and by upbringing to do. This is what Heraclitus, also a man--not a god--who lived some five hundred years before Jesus, meant when he said that "character is destiny." But forgiving your criminal boyfriend does not mean that he should be allowed to run free in Mexico under the questionable supervision of his brother.

If it were possible, in my view, child molesters should get the "one strike and you're out" treatment. Ideally, as I see it, this fellow should be locked away forever with other child molesters. Forgive them, yes. Give them treatment, yes, but behind bars. Allow them a second shot at another child, definitely not!

If you are religious, and believe that there is a third factor besides heredity and environment which determines behavior, a factor which can be called divine grace, enlightenment, the love of God, salvation, or whatever, then pray for your boyfriend that he is somehow rescued by grace from the necessity to repeat this behavior. But even if you do believe in such a thing, that does not mean that a child molester be allowed to run free to offend again.

Please do the right thing. Report this man today. If you do not, you will simply compound the guilt you already feel. If you do not understand this, imagine how you would feel if you fail to report him, and allow his brother to take him on, and then learn later that he has harmed another little girl, or many little girls.

I imagine that to some people, perhaps to you personally, my answer to this question will seem harsh and unforgiving. To those people, I can only say that my views are based on my extensive experience working with sexually abused patients, as well as having spent hundreds of hours in a maximum security penitentiary in close contact with sex offenders and other serious felons. It is a rare sex offender who offends once and never again. In fact, this is almost unheard of. It is from that perspective that I recommend so strongly that you allow the proper authorities deal with this matter. The average citizen lacks both the background and the understanding properly to protect the innocent children in our society. This is a job for the police and the courts.

Be well.

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