Michele says she’s disgusted that her 26-year-old daughter, Malinda, is dating Jack, a registered sex offender — and she wants them to break up, for the sake of Malinda’s 4-year-old daughter. Malinda says she loves Jack and has no plans of leaving him. Is her daughter in danger? Dr. Phil weighs in — and offers the family advice for moving forward.
A Family Divided
Michele says she refuses to meet her daughter, Malinda’s, boyfriend, Jack, and can’t even refer to him by name — because he’s a registered sex offender. Jack, now 26, was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old relative when he was 15 years old. He admits to inappropriately touching the victim when he was 13 and she was 8. Jack says he hates being labeled as a sex offender and insists he’s now living the straight and narrow.
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Michele says she’s not convinced that Jack is reformed at all. She says that she wants Malinda to break up with Jack, for the sake of Malinda’s 4-year-old daughter. “It’s true that I do refer to him as ‘it,'” Michele says. “I honestly believe that the ‘it’ is pursuing my daughter to get to my granddaughter.”
Malinda claims the real issue is not her boyfriend — it is her mother’s need for control. “I don’t feel my boyfriend should be on the sex offender registry,” she says. “He was just a kid … I just don’t get the vibe that he would ever harm anyone intentionally.” Malinda says her family has asked her to choose between them and Jack — but she refuses. “We’re not breaking up,” Malinda says. “There’s no way.”
“Does she not have a legitimate concern here?”
Malinda’s younger sister, Dawn, says she believes their mother is over-reacting and not giving Malinda the chance to live her own life. “I don’t approve of the nasty names she calls [Jack],” Dawn says. She confides that she was the victim of sexual abuse, but says her mother “never calls my abuser a pig, a monster.”
“Is there a double standard here?”
“I do not consider myself a registered sex offender,” Jack says. He claims the inappropriate touching happened three or four times over the course of several months. He explains that the victim later told a therapist about the abuse, which she alleged went on for several years. “She made a report saying that I touched her, and then a year later, another report was made saying that I had sex with her, which was not true,” Jack says.
Jack says that he spent almost seven months in jail and was told by his attorney that if he did not take a plea deal and register as a sex offender, he was going to prison. “I am not a sex offender,” Jack insists. “I did it at the age of 13, and I’m paying for it the rest of my life.”
“An 8-year-old child does not have the capacity to give consent.”
“Was it right to prosecute you for this sexual offense?”
Dr. Phil notes that sex abusers typically do not have just one victim. He says 70 percent have between one and nine victims, and 20 percent have 10 to 40 victims. “The question becomes: Can these people be cured of this disorder?” he says. “The answer is generally regarded to be no, but they can be helped. They can be managed.” Dr. Phil lists several of the options available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, community notifications and registry, and restrictions on access to minors.
“I just want everybody to know that the mistakes I made are in my past,” Jack insists. He says he knows now that what he did was wrong, but maintains he didn’t realize that back when the abuse occurred.
“Did you do it in front of your parents, or your other siblings or your friends?” Dr. Phil asks.
Jack says he did not.
“If you didn’t know it was wrong, then why did you try to hide it?” Dr. Phil asks. “You didn’t do this with your parents sitting there. You didn’t do it with any adults around. So you knew it was wrong.”
Michele reacts: “You’re still weak and not being honest and not really accepting responsibility.”
“This Family Needs Help”
“You absolutely, unequivocally must realize that he is a higher risk individual than the general population,” Dr. Phil says to Malinda. He adds, “I don’t perceive that he is in any intense therapy at this point because if he was — and if it was quality — he would have been saying to me what I was saying to him. He is under-treated and under-managed in this situation for me.”
Dr. Phil tells Malinda and Michele that they need to stop their tug-of-war and focus on what’s in the best interest of the child involved. “If you are behaving in an immature and an impulsive way with your daughter, that needs to stop,” he says to Malinda. “This family needs help. This family needs an intervention.”
Dr. Phil offers to provide them with that professional help, and they accept.