Is There a Predator in the House: Donna

Living with an Abuser?
"My daughter is living with a registered sex offender," says Donna. "I believe my daughter's boyfriend is abusing my grandson."

"My mother told me she was going to do whatever it took to get Scott out of my life," says Donna's daughter, Dianna.

"I have seen a lot of psychological, emotional, verbal and mental abuse," says Donna. "I know what Scott has done in the past, and I know today what he is capable of doing. Anytime after Scott came into the picture, when I saw Dominic, he had changed. He had become withdrawn, sad, unhappy, scared."

"I am a registered sex offender," Scott admits. "Donna is jealous of the fact that I am a father figure to Dominic."

"Scott just took control of everything," Donna complains. "Dianna just went right along with it. I had found out that they had taken the plastic knob off the outside of the bathroom door, placed it on the inside of Dominic's door so that he could not get out of his room."

"Dominic did have free run of the house," Scott explains. "Dominic was very whiny, complaining."

"[Scott] makes Dominic hold his urine until he is ready to let him out of the room, and he knows what will happen if he pees his pants," says Donna. "I was walking up the stairs one evening, and Scott said to Dominic, 'Did you pee?' and the next thing, I heard that crack. The crack sounded like a slap. Dominic was crying and holding his bottom. Dominic had a mark on his bottom where Scott had slapped him."

Scott denies ever spanking Dominic, but Donna says that because of it she called Children's Services.

Scott says, "They came out and asked Dominic if I hit him, and he said no, and then they called the next day and said the case was closed. At that point we were hoping that would be the end of it, which it wasn't." Children's services called a few days later to investigate allegations that Scott and Dianna were locking Dominic in his room and punishing him extensively.

"This time CPS came out to the house," Dianna explains. "They basically did the same thing, and they closed the case."
Donna says she notices a change in her grandson. "Last time I saw Dominic, I was extremely upset with his behavior," she says. "Dominic was sleeping in bed beside me. All of a sudden he woke up just screaming and crying, 'No, no, no, Scott. Get away!' Any time that Dominic had to go home, no matter where he was, he would fight and cry and scream, and beg you 'Don't make me go home. Please don't take me home.' Once I found out that Scott was a registered sex offender, I wanted answers as to why this man was left in the house with my grandson."

Dianna describes another instance in which her mother called Child's Protective Services. "This time, the charges were a little worse," she explains. "They were that Dominic had made a comment to somebody that Scott had touched his peepee. CPS came out and they talked to Dominic. Dominic said that, 'Mommy touches my peepee. I touch my peepee. Daddy touches my peepee.' He said nothing about Scott."

Scott says that Donna has reported him seven or eight times in the past year for physically and sexually abusing Dominic. "To an extent I have hate inside my heart for her, but I don't because it's my girlfriend's mother," he says.

"I felt that Children's Services was blowing me off, and they weren't doing anything about this, and I knew I had to help him so I contacted the Dr. Phil show," says Donna. "I'm hoping that it can get Scott away from Dominic before he damages him any more and destroys him, and I'm hoping that Dianna will not want Scott anymore."
Scott provides his version of the events that led to his conviction.

"When I was 20 or 21 I was at a party. A girl walked up and started talking. We had drinks, and later she had invited me to her house for sex. Her age was not the first thing on my mind, and after we had sex, I thought that was the last thing that I would ever hear from her."

Two weeks later, the police showed up at Scott's parents' house and arrested him for statutory rape. The girl he had had sex with, as it turned out, was 14 years old. "In my eyes I maybe had used wrong discretion, but I didn't do anything wrong, per se," says Scott. "It was totally consensual. When the police looked at the girl's statement, they told me that they were not going to charge me with rape, that they could tell by the statements that it was consensual, and that they were going to charge me with corruption of a minor."

Scott went to court three times and nobody showed up to testify against him, so the charges were dropped. However, the state picked up the case and Scott was sentenced to mandatory 6-months in prison. "I was released from prison and had to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years," he says. "It made me feel belittled, like I was going to be labeled as a child molester."

"This is the paper I receive every year when I go to register," Scott says, paperwork in hand. "I basically have to sign this. It states where I live, and if they find out that I do not live at this address, I can be arrested for another felony charge of escape and get in a lot of trouble, spend more time in prison. That's what I have to live with."

"It's affected me in a lot of ways," Scott continues. "It's caused a lot of problems, stressful problems, things where I've looked for other avenues to just be numb so I didn't have to feel the pain. I've needed somebody to talk to for a long time. Not everybody who is a sex offender is a child molester."
Dr. Phil addresses Scott. "So your position is that you're guilty of what they say you did, which is to have sex with a teenager when you were 20 or 21, but that you're not a pedophile," he says.

"No," says Scott. "I totally believe if a person is a pedophile, and they walk around chasing after young kids and wanting to have sex with young kids, that they should be punished to the fullest extent, because I have kids myself."

"OK, look," says Dr. Phil, "and I don't want to trivialize what happened here, but I do want to make the distinction, because I think there is a distinction here. It's really hard to take stupid back, and what you did was stupid. But there is a distinction between that and being a pedophile."

"Yes," Scott agrees.

Dr. Phil asks Donna how many times she's called Child Protective Services, and she says once. Dianna takes her to task, pointing out that she had friends and relatives call on her behalf. Amid their bickering, Donna addresses Scott heatedly.

"And you sat in that living room, and you told my other daughter and me that you make Dominic hold his urine in the morning, and you sat there and you told us that, and you laughed. You thought it was really funny," she says. Scott denies the allegation and Dianna chimes in, but Donna tells her, "And you came in the living room and said to me, 'Mom, I don't know what's wrong with Dominic. He cries and cries all the time. I don't know what to do with him. He just doesn't want to be there. He fights with me when he has to come home.'"

"He cries and cries all the time because you are not healthy, because you smother him," Dianna counters.


"All right, look," Dr. Phil says, turning to Donna. "There can be questions about parenting. There can be questions about decision-making on the part of these parents, spoiling on the part of the grandparents. We can talk about all of that and need to, but the question is, do you have evidence? You said you have seen psychological, emotional, verbal, and mental abuse."

"Yes, I have, Dr. Phil. Yes, I have," she says.

"OK," says Dr. Phil, "but then you said in the interview that you've not ever seen him actually abuse."

"Scott has sat there in front of me and my other daughter," she explains, "and he has told us both, 'The other morning when I went in to get Dominic he was so hysterical because he thought that he had peed in his pull-up. He thought he was in trouble, and I told him, "Well, you have to calm down."' He said he was so hysterical Dominic lost his breath." Turning to Scott she continues, infuriated, "You sat there and laughed. You thought that was funny, Scott. You also said that you sat there one morning and let Dominic get up, knock on his door, run back to his bed, knock on the door again, run back to his bed. 'I'd let him do it 20 times before I'd let him out of his room.' OK, that came right out of your mouth, Scott. Yes it did. In front of me and my other daughter."

"All right, true or false?" Dr. Phil asks Scott.

"False," he says. "We were trying to potty train him. He was almost 3 years old and never potty trained." Scott and Donna debate over whether what Donna fed the child was the source of problems.

Scott reveals what he feels might be at the root of Donna's accusations. "Donna was molested and beaten as a child, and I do believe that she is reliving her childhood," he says.

"I don't know if she identifies that with Scott, him being a sex offender," Dianna adds. "I think that she's just using that against him."

Donna confirms that she was abused by a family member. Dr. Phil asks, "Do they have a possible point, that because you have lived the pain, the tragedy, the hurt of being in that situation, that you are hyper vigilant about it, and when someone comes in whom you have concerns about, that you are overreacting to it?"

Donna concedes that it's a possibility, but adds, "But I have seen the signs in Dominic. Like I said, I had him at the store with my other daughter one day. Dominic had to go to the restroom. He became extremely upset. He started going in his pants. All he could do was stand there and cry and say, 'I'm in trouble, I'm in trouble, I'm in trouble.'"


"So you were concerned about the trials and tribulations of potty training, whether they're going about it in the right way or the wrong way," says Dr. Phil, "but that's way different from being sexually molested, it's way different than being mentally emotionally, physically and verbally abused. Now, you may disagree with the methodology, but we're talking about the trials and tribulations of potty training, right?"

"That, yes," Donna agrees. "And I'm also talking about the nightmare that Dominic had, 'No, no, no, Scott. Go away, Scott! Go away. Scott, go away.'"

"That's a lie," Dianna interjects. "Andrew was there, and Andrew told me that Scott's name was never brought up."

"No," Donna counters, "Andrew woke up the next morning and said to me he heard Dominic scream, and your Aunt Marsha was in the next room, Dianna."

"It's a nightmare, Mom," says Dianna. "Three-year-olds have nightmares."

Mother and daughter return to bickering over details of Dominic's nightmare and other behaviors Donna finds suspicious.

"OK," Dr. Phil says to Donna, "so then you are therefore concluding and alleging what?"

"That for whatever reason, Dominic does not want to go home," she says. "Before Scott came in the picture, there was no problem with the little guy going home. Now, all of the sudden, he screams, he cries, he doesn't want to go home. He just doesn't want to leave us."

"Because you're not there anymore," says Dianna. "Because he doesn't get spoiled anymore."

 

The three resume their squabbling.


Dr. Phil intervenes, saying, "Hold on. I've got something I want to say. There apparently have been what, seven allegations to Child Protective Services, and I have the records of all of it." Turning to Scott he says, "I also have the records of your conviction from earlier, and the police reports, the court reports, and they all reflect exactly what you're saying, by the way, about what happened and how it happened. That is accurate according to the police." Addressing Donna, he says, "I have all of these instances, whether you made the calls or caused somebody to make the calls, or just somebody in the random world called, and in each of these situations it's, 'Case closed, case closed, unsubstantiated, case closed, no indication of abuse, unsubstantiated. No finding of wrong-doing on the part of Child Protective Services.' Are you aware of that?"

"Yeah," says Donna.

"Does that give you any comfort, or do you think they're just blowing you off?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Actually, what was disturbing me is the difference in Dominic's behavior, how withdrawn he became," she says.

"There was a big change in his life," Dianna asserts.

"OK," says Dr. Phil, "but my question is, when there have been seven complaints, and each time an independent evaluator comes and assesses the situation and says, 'We've talked to the child. There are no concerns expressed about mom or boyfriend. Allegations are denied by mom and boyfriend. No substantiating evidence found. Case closed. Unsubstantiated. Boyfriend is classified as sexual-oriented offender and this label was given as a result of his having sex with a girl in the 13 to 15 range. This is the lowest classification. It was made about nine years ago. No indication of any inappropriate behavior since that time.' There is absolutely no indication that Dominic has demonstrated that he's been inappropriately touched by this man or anyone else."

"Right. I never said that he was," says Donna.