Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why John Is Over-Protective


Long, long ago -- when I was twelve and in the second semester of my eighth  grade year, to be precise --  I became acquainted online with what some people called a child predator.  It didn't start out that way. I didn't go to a child predator website and announce that I was up for grabs. I had been warned about perverts, but I thought a person had to go to special child pron sites to meet these people. I didn't understand that the deviates visited regular sites looking for little girls, or, in some places, little boys.

I first made acquaintanceship with my personal pervert on a violin website. Initially the two of us discussed violin technique. The discussions moved to violin makes, models, and sizes. The predator expressed concern that I was not using the correct size violin. He was right. I was using my mother's violin, which was a full size, and was actually  a bit big even for her. I probably should have been using a half-size instrument which, incidentally, doesn't literally mean that it's half the size of a full-size violin. It's just the system by which they're sized numerically, and the system doesn't necessarily make any sense. The man determined (correctly, as it turned out)  what my violin size should be by having me send him a photograph of myself with my mom's violin, in addition to various body measurements. Some of the measurements he requested were legitimate for the purpose of determine violin size. Others were useless for that purpose and served only to fuel his sick desires.
He had already learned from our early contacts  what was my general geographical location  from the music store at which I told him I made my purchases. This was just about violins, right? Why would there be anything sinister in asking about a person's violin specifications of any sort? Then he asked me who my violin teachers were. My mom was my only private teacher; I didn't mention her.  I told him my school violin teacher's name. I didn't name the school, but I didn't need to. The man had compiled a list of teachers and which schools they served. By naming my school strings teacher, I had narrowed my school down to one of two.  

It was about at this point that my creep factor kicked in, but it was basically too late. The man had everything he needed to locate me. It was just a matter of time. I knew there was a problem, but thought maybe I could manage it by staying in large groups. I had in my mind what I thought a predator should look like, and I kept my eyes open for such a person.  What I didn't quite understand was that predators, perverts, or their ilk are not necessarily easily spotted by physical appearance alone.  I was watching carefully for anyone following me on my way home from school, but he was better at following me without being watched than I was at watching for him.

By eighth grade, my brother and I were latchkey kids. We had a safe neighborhood, and neighbors looked out for each other's children. No degree of looking out for each other's kids, however, could guarantee a child's safety in such a situation.

The predator had determined my address, and he sent me a letter through the U.S. postal service. Because I usually got  home before my parents, I saw the letter first. Just seeing the typed letter with no return address gave me a sick feeling, but I opened it, hoping for the best. I was not so lucky. In the letter, the predator told me that  by now, I probably realized that I had done something extremely foolish in giving out the information I had given. If I told my parents, I would be in serious trouble. If he told my parents, I would be in serious trouble. He recommended that I meet with him just once after school in two days so that he could explain to me in detail just how dangerous my behavior had been  and also so that he could correctly measure me for violin size.  He told me where and when we were to meet

I knew at that point that I was in way over my head. It occurred to me that the bad guy, and I was pretty certain by this point that my "violin expert" was a bad guy, could be sitting outside my house at that moment. He could grab my brother as my brother walked through the yard, and could use my brother's key to gain entrance.  He could just break a window, as my brother wouldn't be home for another hour or so due to baseball practice.  I wasn't safe in the house by myself, and  I wasn't safe outside of the house traveling elsewhere. I knew I had to tell my parents, but I tried to delay the inevitable. I had a friend who lived around the corner. I picked up the phone and dialed my friend's number.

Megan, like I, was one of the few members of our little group of friends who did not yet have our own cell phones. She answered the land line. I told her I needed to talk to her mom. Her mom was in the bathroom but eventually made it to the phone. I  hid behind the blinds in the living room looking outside for anyone strange as I waited for my friend Megan's mom to come to the phone. Megan's mother eventually made it to the phone.

Her first impulse was to call the police immediately. I could not see either of my parents reacting calmly to hearing this news for the first time from law enforcement personnel, so I talked Megan's mother into bringing me to her house while we called one of my parents. Megan's mom told me to stay put until she arrived at my door to get me. Even when she got to the door, rang the doorbell, knocked, and hollered, "It's Megan's mom. Alexis," I was reluctant to answer the door, but I eventually did.

Megan's mom put her arm around me and walked me around the corner, across the street, and into to her house, after which she promptly locked the door. "Okay," she said, "Which parent do you want to call?"

 It was an easy choice for me. "My mom,' I told her. "I''ll dial. Do you want to talk?" She said yes. I dialed and let her speak to the various receptionists at the school district office where my mom worked, all of whom told her my mother was in a meeting that couldn't be disturbed. she explained that it was an emergency of the 9-1-1- variety that involved my mother's child, but still no one would interrupt the meeting. i had the feeling that she could have told the receptionists i had been hit by a car and was in the Intensive Care ward  at the local hospital, yet their responses would have been the same.

I cried because  knew it meant my dad had to be called. I knew my dad would not take this information well. Still, he had to be called. I dialed his cell number and handed the phone to Megan's mom. She explained to my dad that I had experienced a bit of a scare and that my parents might wish to involve law enforcement. He was working just ten minute way on that particular day and said he would leave immediately. He commented to Megan's mother, "I'm just curious. Usually Alexis would have asked for he mom to be called first in a situation like this one." Megan's mom explained that the school  district receptionists had refused to interrupt her in a meeting. Megan's mother said he sounded angry as he told her, "Erin will be there, too."

A few minutes later, my mom pulled up in front of Megan's house. She came to the door. Megan's mother encouraged her to wait inside until my dad arrived, which he did shortly. He had parked his car in our garage and walked over to Megan's house. My parents thanked Megan's mom, and the three of us walked to our house together.

As soon as we entered the house, I showed my parents the letter. My dad called 9-1-1. He suggested that the man could be watching, and it might be wise to arrive in an unmarked car to avoid tipping off the pervert. My dad told the dispatcher to have the officer park in our garage, which he did when he showed up a few minutes later.

The officer was concerned that my brother might be in danger, so Matthew was picked up in an unmarked car and delivered home. Matthew is  still mad at me seven years later because he had to leave practice early that day.

The officers took as much information as they could get. They told my parents someone from the D.A.'s office or the FBI or some task force would be in contact soon, probably  the next day. The men in suits showed up at school the next morning. The school, which wouldn't even let my mother out of a meeting yesterday to deal with the situation, now wanted to be right in the thick of everything. One of the suits assured the vice principal that this had nothing whatsoever to do with the school except that school personnel should be on alert for an unfamiliar vehicle lurking near the premises. We left and moved the meeting to our home.

The men in suits were very interested in which computer or computers i had used. I was only allowed access to the den computer at that time. The men in suits checked it out thoroughly there, but also took the computer with them for further analysis. it was something like three months before we gt the computer back.

Results of the investigation were that the guy had a lot of irons in the fire but that he had yet to pull off a successful operation.  He was found outside the school entrance/exit I would have taken, and was traveling the route back and forth between the school and my house. His prints matched prints on the letter that was sent to me. All the computer communications matched up as well.  The charges that he faced in relation to my case were minor compared to some of the others. He was identified as having called children over to his car in a neighboring town and as having exposed himself to the school children on their way to school, among other things. Authorities had reasons to believe that the predator had much larger plans in his grand schemes.

My parents were extremely angry with me, yet not entirely unsympathetic. when i had a nightmare that night, they  were quick to come in to my room  and offer comfort. They did take a rather martyred stance, informing me that they had every right to beat me but were, out of the goodness of their hearts, deferring that right in favor of not letting me near a computer for the foreseeable future.This may have seemed a small price to pay; however, I was, for all practical intents and purposes, isolated from the world. I was reduced to face-to-face contact with friends, as my parents' archaic style of parenting didn't even allow my brother and me to have cell phones at the time. To the other students at our school, I was viewed similarly to the way most of today's teens would view the adolescents at Warren Jeffs' Yearning for Zion or Colorado City/Hilldale compounds. (No one ever actually said this to me. They didn't need to, because I could see it in their eyes.) Furthermore, who in his or her right mind would attempt a worthwhile conversation on a land line with parents eagerly hanging on to each spoken word?I will say for myself that I used my time of virtual incarceration wisely. The most significant of my achievements was to expose the woeful inadequacies of the libraries of the middle and high schools I attended. As I was not granted access to computer-based research, I was relegated to relying upon encylopediae and other ancient primary sources. I once authored a paper on the topic of "The Lunar Expedition." My concluding sentence was something to the effect of, "Some day man may actually land and walk upon the moon." My teacher, of course, tried to give me a failing grade on the paper, but was forced to concede when he could not find a single piece of non-computer-based literature in the school library that contradicted my concluding sentence. The only actual encyclopedia the library offered was printed in 1968, and was kept as sort of a relic for the purpose of showing students how research was collected in prehistoric times. The only actual books the library held were works of fiction.

As I was required to write research papers without the use of technology, I had the unfortunate experience of using a typewriter. Most people have no idea just how difficult it is to use a typewriter. My style of keyboarding is to type at an extremely rapid rate but to make more errors than  be counted by a single person. This works perfectly well when using a computer if a person proofreads well, but when typing on a typewriter, corrections must be made using either a correction ribbon on the machine or with liquid paper, both of which add thickness and weight to the paper. When someone makes as many errors as I usually do, each sheet of paper weighs around ten ounces by the time the corrections have been made. 

I eventually made a deal with my brother to take all of his turns at doing the dishes for two weeks for each of my papers he typed. At the expense of belaboring the FLDS analogy, with the exception of Warren Jeffs' wives and other females at the compound, I was one of the youngest people in the nation with dishpan hands. My parents eventually allowed me extremely limited computer access. I was first allowed to use the computer to type school assignments, then to do limited Internet research when a parent was in the room with me. Less than a year ago I was allowed to have a Twitter page giving only the vaguest indication of my geographic location. (For the record, I used and continue to use my actual first name but a different surname.) My parents have put some sort of control (censorship) on all of our home computers so that every keystroke I make is recorded. They said that they really didn't care what awful things I say about them as long as Chris Matthews or whatever that "To Catch a Sexual Predator" guy's name is doesn't show up with his producers and say they want to film an encounter with me and the latest predator with whom I've been in contact.

I'm now a legal adult and am free to  do whatever I want with a computer as long as it's legal.  The strange thing about parents, though, is that they don't stop worrying just because their children are over eighteen. I keep peace in my home by letting my dad have my passwords. He's still concerned that the violin pervert or another one equally creepy will someday find me. 


  1. That is a scary story. I'm glad that creep never got his hands on you. On the bright side, you at least got him arrested. Had you not spoken up, he might still be trying to lure children.

    On another note, I am very familiar with using typewriters because I didn't get my first computer until I was a grad student. I don't know how I made it to age 27 with just a typewriter. ;)

  2. After such an experience you are very brave to share your life to the cyber world. We enjoy sharing it with you but please,please be circumspect.

  3. I live on a street, in a city that protects us all, once a predator or sexual deviate is arrested and convicted. I had lived in this house for a year when I read a sign, posted by law enforcement; sort of like a traffic sign, informing everyone that a convicted sexual predator/molester (I don't remember the exact words) lived in house number 4. I lived in house number 7. I saw him once. The house directly across from him was bought by a family with 3 small children. They are a Hispanic family, who know very little English. I, knowing Spanish, told them about the sign and what it meant. They were forewarned by me. The man in house Number 4 moved soon thereafter. I was informed that while he is on parole, this sign would be posted in front of wherever he lived, as long as it was within the county line. Since then, we ALL are careful as to who our neighbors may be. It's important. I, myself, have been sexually molested between the age of 5 to 12. I have also been raped, as an adult. Your story hits home, as I understand exactly how you felt. I have been set free and I am glad you are too. I choose to remain Anonymous here, but I will reveal to you who I am through Twitter, as a new "friend." Thank you for sharing. Much Love.

  4. The longer I am on the internet, the greater urge I feel to get away from it... it certainly puts a lot into perspective. I'm glad you spoke up instead of ignoring/ avoiding this dangerous situation. A lot of people don't listen to their intuition or heed the warning signs. It's a shame that a tool as useful as the internet is used for such evil things.

  5. My motivation for telling when I did was honestly that I thought he would tell my parents and that I would be in even more trouble if they heard it from him than from me. Now I know there's no way he was going to tell them, but he might very well have grabbed me. Twelve year-old - even smart ones - do not reason as adults do. I was scared at the time but had no idea just how scared I really should have been.

    Re: identity: I post only small pictures of myself , don't use my real surname (1st name is quite common), and a vague in terms of my location. A few people know where I'm going to med school, but not many, and I won't say any more about it.