Friday, January 13, 2006

The Day I Found Out My Husband Was A Child Molester

The Oprah Winfrey Show - January 13, 2006 Friday


HEADLINE: The day I found out my husband was a child molester; women discuss finding out their children were being molested by the men they loved

Unidentified Man #1: Six, five, four...
Unidentified Man #2: Ready tape, ready music.
Unidentified Man #1: ...cue Oprah.

OPRAH WINFREY: The manhunt for a notorious child rapist ended in her living room.
Who was the eight-year-old girl that got your husband caught?

Ms. LEANNA PERRY (Ex-wife Of Serial Rapist): My daughter.

WINFREY: You didn't have a clue.

Married to a monster.

MARILYN (Stayed Married To Her Sons' Molester): He raped my son.
WINFREY: You did stay married, right?
She loved him until she walked in on him.
Ms. JODY LYNN BOWMAN (Killed Boyfriend Who Molested Her Daughter): I opened the door and I just couldn't believe my eyes.
WINFREY: What did you see? You shot him.
Ms. BOWMAN: I shot him.
Ms. BOWMAN: Dead.
I have one intention behind this show today and that is that somebody of the millions of you who watch will see something that snaps you into reality. What you're about to hear is going to make you sick, but I urge you just to keep listening. This is a real recording of a serial pedophile. Fifty-seven-year-old Wayne Chapman is said to have molested over 50 children, so listen as he fantasizes while studying potential young victims.
Mr. WAYNE CHAPMAN (Pedophile): (From audiotape) School bus just passed me with a load of kids in it. I wonder if there's any boys in there. Here comes two boys now. One of them look pretty good there. Ooh, boy, would I love to get into his back end! Some of them scream, `It hurts, it hurts,' others, `It feels all right.' You know what that means then they say it feels all right, it feels all right, man.
WINFREY: Police say that Wayne Chapman recorded his own twisted thoughts so that he could relive his sick fantasies over and over again. More than once Chapman was arrested and sent to prison. He has served his latest sentence and is being considered now for release, and he's going to be living in someone's neighborhood, make no mistake.
Child molesters are cunning and they are coming after your children. What would you do if you walked in on someone you loved molesting your child? This is Jody's story.
(Excerpt from videotape)
WINFREY: After two failed marriages, Jody wanted to make a new life for herself and her two daughters.
Ms. BOWMAN: I had moved a thousand miles away for a fresh start. I had just bought a home. I was raising two beautiful children, and I was happy. I met a man named Jeorgie, and I just fell totally in love with him. I felt that God had sent him to me, that he was my soul mate.
WINFREY: Jody admits that her new relationship was far from perfect. She was aware that Jeorgie had a criminal record, sentenced to nine years in prison for battery, armed robbery and drug convictions.
Ms. BOWMAN: When I first met Jeorgie, like the first night that we went out, he offered me cocaine, and I knew right then in my mind, I was like, `Run as fast as you can and get away from this guy.' But he swept me off my feet and he would take care of me and the kids.
WINFREY: Then one day, Jody's three-year-old daughter told her about a special game she played with Jeorgie.
Ms. BOWMAN: She mentioned a bear game. She had these stuffed animals. She said that Jeorgie daddy was the daddy bear and that she was the mommy bear and that they had two baby bears. She said that, `We lay on them.' I said, `Well, you know, what did you do besides lay on the bear?' And she said, `Daddy would touch me.' There was no way possible that I would think or could imagine that he would be capable of that. I took it to him the next day and confronted him about it. He convinced me that she was mistaken and I believed him.
WINFREY: One week later, Jody says she witnessed the horrible truth.
Ms. BOWMAN: I was doing my household chores, and my daughter was in the next room, and when I went to check on her, she wasn't there. I panicked. I got just such a sick feeling in me. I looked around. She wasn't there, and I went to the bedroom door that Jeorgie was in and it was locked. So I go back to the kitchen and get my keys to the bedroom and I open the door, and I just couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't believe what I seen.
(End of excerpt)
WINFREY: What did you see?
Ms. BOWMAN: I walked in, and Jeorgie was in my thong underwear masturbating on the bed watching porno with my baby next to him naked, where she was naked.
WINFREY: Did you see your baby? She's three, right?
Ms. BOWMAN: Yes.
Ms. BOWMAN: She was three.
WINFREY: Did she look at you?
Ms. BOWMAN: She looked at me when I walked in the door, and I just remember seeing this blank like--just this emptiness in her eyes.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And what happened next?
Ms. BOWMAN: I grabbed her, and I ran out of the room with her, and I took her out of the house, and I was--as I was running out, he was yelling at me, telling me that I better not tell nobody, that nobody would believe me, that he would kill me, that he would pour acid down my vagina. And he was saying all these things to me as I was running out of the house. And I got outside of the house, and the first thing that I seen was a tent that the kids had been camping in over the weekend, and I went and I put her in the tent...
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And you said, `Stay here. Stay here.'
Ms. BOWMAN: stay--and I told her to stay there until I came back for her, and then I went back into the house.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And then what happened?
Ms. BOWMAN: I grabbed a gun before I got to the bedroom to protect myself.
WINFREY: Because you thought he would hurt you?
Ms. BOWMAN: I knew he would. I knew I wouldn't able to leave that house. And I went back in there to get answers and to ask him why and, `How could you do this to our baby?' And he just started laughing at me and told me I was crazy and that nobody would believe me, and just cursing at me and just saying real degrading things. And I was standing there with the gun and he was like, `Put the gun down,' and just saying all kinds of bad things to me, and then he came after me, and when he came after me, I just started firing the gun.
WINFREY: How many times did you shoot?
Ms. BOWMAN: It was four shots.
WINFREY: And you shot him.
Ms. BOWMAN: I shot him.
Ms. BOWMAN: Dead.
WINFREY: And what did you do after you shot him?
Ms. BOWMAN: I was in shock. I was scared. I was--I didn't know what to do. I just--the reality of what I had done--I knew I was probably going to be going to prison for the rest of my life. I was scared.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And your baby's still in the tent.
Ms. BOWMAN: Well, yeah. After the shooting--she must have heard the shots, and as I was going out of the bedroom, she was coming in out of the back of the house, and I just remember grabbing her and dropping to the floor and just telling her that no one would ever hurt her again and that he would never hurt her again.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. I understand you left to go get your other daughter?
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: You, like, got in a car and drove?
Ms. BOWMAN: I don't know how I did it.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Where was your older daughter?
Ms. BOWMAN: She had stayed at a friend's house the night before, and they had went to the movies, and I was the parent to pick up. I was in shock, but I just knew that I had to get her.
WINFREY: And you, your youngest daughter and your oldest daughter came home.
Ms. BOWMAN: We came home.
WINFREY: Did you tell your older daughter what had happened?
Ms. BOWMAN: I was just in a state of panic and shock and scared, you know. I just didn't know what to do.
WINFREY: So then you went upstairs and you all...
Ms. BOWMAN: We went to sleep in my daughter's bed, the three of us.
WINFREY: Where was the dead body?
Ms. BOWMAN: Downstairs on the main level locked behind a door in our master bedroom.
WINFREY: And still in the room.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: Coming up, Jody goes on trial for murder. That's next.
(Excerpt from courtroom proceedings)
Unidentified Man #3: That's the gun you shot him with, is that correct?
Ms. BOWMAN: Yes. It happened so quick. I was, `How could you do this?' He's like, `Put the gun down. I'll take it away from you. I'm gonna (censored) kill you.' And he came after me.
Unidentified Man #3: All right.
What happens when you shoot him the first time?
Ms. BOWMAN: I kept firing the gun.
Unidentified Man #3: Ms. Bowman, you knew what you were doing, and you understood that when you shot another human being with a handgun, that they would die, didn't you?
Ms. BOWMAN: I knew it was possible, yes.
Unidentified Man #3: Did you think it was possible that he would die when you shot him a second time? How about when you shot him a third time? Did you think it was possible he'd die?
Ms. BOWMAN: There was not a conscious thought process going through my mind like that.
Unidentified Man #3: Ms. Bowman, you just caught this man molesting your child. Isn't that what you told me?
Ms. BOWMAN: But I didn't go in there to kill him.
Unidentified Man #3: You wanted him to die.
Ms. BOWMAN: No, I didn't.
Unidentified Man #3: You didn't want him to die? That's why you got the gun, right?
Ms. BOWMAN: No, I did not...
Unidentified Man #3: You just wanted to chat with him, right?
Ms. BOWMAN: It was to protect myself.
Unidentified Man #3: Why didn't you get in the car and protect yourself? Why didn't you leave?
Ms. BOWMAN: I wish I would have.
(End of excerpt)
WINFREY: Thanks to Court TV for that footage from Jody's trial. Thank you, Court TV.
When Jody Lynn Bowman walked in on her boyfriend, Jeorgie, sexually molesting her three-year-old daughter--she said he was wearing her thong and the baby was on the bed and he was masturbating--she fired four shots and killed him, and Jody was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. She spent 15 months in jail awaiting trial, facing the possibility of life in prison, and on April 8th, 2004, the jury returned the verdict. OK. That moment when the jury walks into the room...
Ms. BOWMAN: Everything was just in slow motion, and I just knew that they had come back with a guilty verdict.
WINFREY: And that you were going to now...
Ms. BOWMAN: And that I was gonna never see my children again, that I would spend the rest of my life in prison.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. On April 8, 2004, the jury returned the verdict.
(Excerpt from courtroom proceedings)
Unidentified Woman: In the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit in and for Brevard County, Florida, State of Florida vs. Jody Lynn Bowman, case number 037812CFA, we, the jury, find as follows as to the defendant in this case: The defendant is not guilty.
Unidentified Judge: Ms. Bowman, the jury having returned a verdict of not guilty in this regard, you are therefore adjudicated not guilty with regard to this offense. You are discharged and free to go.
(End of excerpt)
WINFREY: Whoa! So looking back, you know, as I said in the beginning of the show, I have one intention, and that is for other women to see the signs that those of you who have lived so closely to molesters didn't see.
Ms. BOWMAN: There were so many signs.
Ms. BOWMAN: For instance, she would get angry--you know, she just started getting really angry about just different things. And she would tell me that she would be scared to go to bed at night, telling me that the boogeyman was coming in her room. And we had just moved into a new home, so I was dismissing that as she's just scared or...
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Well, let me just say, I'm not here to try to make you feel more guilty. I'm just here to get other people to have a reality check themselves. But you can't get more blatant than the teddy bear game.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah, and that was the...
WINFREY: Yeah. And this is what I want you to tell me.
WINFREY: Your daughter told you about the teddy bear game, and all your signals, your flags went up, right?
Ms. BOWMAN: Yes.
WINFREY: And she said, `He plays with me or touches me.'
Ms. BOWMAN: `Touches my girlfriend.'
WINFREY: `He touches my girlfriend,' which is what she calls her vagina?
Ms. BOWMAN: Right.
WINFREY: Everybody has a name. `Touches my girlfriend.' So she says--when your three-year-old says to you, `He touches my girlfriend'--this is the thing I want you to really think before you answer--what does he then have to say to convince you that that was not true? You said, `I confronted him.'
Ms. BOWMAN: The next day I confronted him. He got angry, and he got mad, and then he started crying, and he said, `Jody, there's no way I could ever do this. I love her.'
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And you believed him.
Ms. BOWMAN: And I believed him.
WINFREY: And so what do you then tell yourself, that--why your little girl told you that?
Ms. BOWMAN: At that point...
WINFREY: How do you justify that--the bear game? How do you justify that?
Ms. BOWMAN: I--Oprah, I felt deep in my mind, in my gut that it was him.
WINFREY: Yeah. You felt it was true.
Ms. BOWMAN: I felt it was true.
WINFREY: But you didn't want to believe him.
Ms. BOWMAN: I didn't want to--I didn't want to believe it was true, and I...
WINFREY: Because to believe it was true would mean you would have to do something, right?
Ms. BOWMAN: That's it.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: That's the bottom line.
Ms. BOWMAN: It is.
WINFREY: You would have to do something...
Ms. BOWMAN: And the...
WINFREY: ...meaning put him out of the house.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: Right. And then you would be alone, right?
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: Now I'm just--this is all I'm trying to get you to answer so that other mothers who have been in this position, and there are millions of them...
Ms. BOWMAN: Yes.
WINFREY: ...especially women with boyfriends who--the desire to have the man, the desire to be able to say, `I have a man,' or whatever that is, is so strong, that they overlook all the signals even when the child tells you.
Ms. BOWMAN: Right.
WINFREY: So what did you tell yourself about what your daughter said?
Ms. BOWMAN: I knew that something had happened to her possibly, but I thought that she was just confused.
WINFREY: You did.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yes, and that's how I rationalized it in my mind.
WINFREY: Did you think she was confused or did you want to think that she was confused because that...
Ms. BOWMAN: I wanted to think that she was confused.
WINFREY: Because that would let you off the hook from having to do what you needed to do.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: This is what Jody said. She said, `I let this guy suck me in.' True?
Ms. BOWMAN: I allowed him to do that.
WINFREY: It was too good to be true.
Ms. BOWMAN: It was.
WINFREY: That's the big sign, everybody. Anyone who sees something and it's too good to be true, it is. OK. You say, `I look back and realize that I was the perfect profile for a pedophile. I had two small children and a single mom.' And you started using drugs a little bit with him. That you--because you told us that first time you go out with him, he offers you cocaine.
Ms. BOWMAN: Yeah.
WINFREY: You got sense enough to know this is a bad sign.
Ms. BOWMAN: Know--and then he also knew that I had came from an abusive relationship, so I was vulnerable...
Ms. BOWMAN: that.
WINFREY: But at what point do you take responsibility for your choices?
Ms. BOWMAN: The day that she told me and that I just did not pick that baby up and walk out of that house, that's where I went wrong. I had just lost myself. I had just lost myself.
WINFREY: And when you lose yourself, you also lose your ability to see the reality.
Ms. BOWMAN: And to make, you know, good judgments. That's...
WINFREY: Now this is the thing. This is the question I wanted to ask you. When you were saying, `No way. I didn't believe there was any way that he would do a thing like this.' Why?
Ms. BOWMAN: If a friend of ours...
Ms. BOWMAN: Why? Because of the person that I thought he was. I just felt that this guy, that he was not capable, that he would not be capable of that. He loved kids. He was, you know, just...
WINFREY: Most pedophiles do.
Ms. BOWMAN: I know that.
WINFREY: OK. I really do thank you for sharing your story. And I know that there'll be a mother out there who will look more closely.
Ms. BOWMAN: I hope so.
WINFREY: And I thank you, Jody. Thank you.
Coming up, when a mother chooses the molester over her child. That's next.
WINFREY: OK. I'll let you answer that. This is Marilyn. She admits staying married to the man who molested her two sons. And you were just--you were just saying you--I don't know. Do you take offense to me saying you chose the molester?
MARILYN: I know that my choices, a lot of people will question them. But they weren't in my shoes.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Well, I'm gonna let you explain it, because we have no right to judge you--you're right--because we're not in your shoes. The only reason I'm doing this is for all the women who are in your shoes, who are there, who choose to believe when their spouses, their boyfriends--when they see the signs or have found out that their children are being molested, and they stay in the relationship because they believe that the molester can be cured. That's why I'm doing this, because I believe that there are millions of women out there, particularly women with boyfriends, who end up choosing the boyfriends. I mean, it's not a pleasant thing to say, but in that instance, you just--were you watching the rest of the show?
WINFREY: In that instance when her daughter told her and she went and listened to what Jeorgie had to say and believed Jeorgie, she chose Jeorgie over her daughter. I don't care how callous that sounds. She chose Jeorgie over her daughter.
MARILYN: I know.
WINFREY: So the fact is that after finding out that your husband, you--for you--had been molesting your two sons, you did stay married, right?
MARILYN: Well, the children didn't tell me. I had just felt something was wrong in my home.
MARILYN: And I confronted my husband, and he confessed to it. I then called the police, called child services. Detectives came and interviewed the children, and when they questioned them, since they had been molested while they were sleeping, they had no idea that anything had happened to them.
WINFREY: But again...
MARILYN: At that time, Luis was five, Roy was seven. And the reason I stayed was he said he would immediately go into a sex offender program, which he did. I was six months pregnant with my daughter, and, yes, perhaps they are just excuses when I think back. I had just married him. We were only married six months when I found this out, and...
WINFREY: So these were his stepsons.
MARILYN: These were his stepsons.
WINFREY: When you confronted him, you said...
MARILYN: After I got through screaming and just going through all the emotions that any mother would have finding something out--because, I don't know, maybe a part of me expected denial. But for him to say, `Yeah, I did this and I need help'--that was his thing, `I need help. I can't control myself. I need help.' And so he was very willing to go into the sex offender program. And so I decided, `Well, I'm just gonna have to keep an eagle eye on him while he's in treatment to see whether this is really gonna work.' So I'm six months pregnant, and at night I would sleep on the floor of our bedroom right in front of the door to make sure he wouldn't get out. And I'd question the children at least on a weekly basis, very subtly, whether anything had happened. At that point, I guess I rationalized it that they didn't know that they were being hurt, and now it's stopped, and I can keep it from happening again. This is what I thought.
WINFREY: Yeah. The image of you--I want you--don't be nervous. But the image of you putting yourself in front of the door--OK, this is what I want every person watching to know. Molestation doesn't just happen at nighttime. She was doing the laundry in the middle of the day and the--she thinks her daughter's playing in the other room and he's got the door locked. That's a fallacy to believe that it only happens late at night sometimes.
MARILYN: 'Cause I later found out differently.
WINFREY: Yeah. And you believed him when he said that it's only at night and it's when they're sleeping.
WINFREY: OK. So you stayed with him for seven years, and that's how you lived?
MARILYN: Well...
WINFREY: That's how you lived, every week checking with the boys saying...
MARILYN: I was like the house police without--you know, and I--my little girl, I grew up teaching her as soon as she could talk what her body parts were, and, `Only Mommy can give you a bath. Daddy's not allowed to do that.'
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. So what happened after the seven years?
MARILYN: We moved to another state, and then I guess about a year, maybe less, unbeknownst to me, he began abusing Luis. He raped my son.
WINFREY: How old was Luis at the time?
MARILYN: I think it began before his 11th birthday.
WINFREY: And this is after he had had the treatment?
MARILYN: Mm-hmm. And I began to see changes in Luis. He gained weight. He started doing badly in school. He was just having a lot of, like, stomach pains, and we were constantly taking him to the doctor because this--he was always complaining that his stomach was hurting.
WINFREY: Were you still asking them on a weekly basis? Were you still doing that?
MARILYN: Oh, yeah. When I finally started to connect things, to ask him, you know, `Is your stepdad touching you in a place where he shouldn't?' and he denied it, I was desperate. I thought I was going crazy, because I'm seeing these signs and I'm thinking, `Well, maybe it's because of what happened so many years ago and I'm just, you know, making things up in my head.' And so I confronted both of them separately. With my son, I asked him, you know, `Luis, if anything is happening to you, I want to take care of you. We'll go away.' You know, and when I confronted my ex-husband, he totally denied it.
And it was perhaps about a year later; one night Luis started crying uncontrollably and I went into his room and I asked, `What's wrong, honey? What's wrong?' And he wouldn't tell me. And I asked, `Did your dad touch you in your private parts, on your penis?' and he said, `Yes.' And we just sat there on his bed and we cried together.
WINFREY: We will talk to Marilyn's son, Luis, when we come back.
WINFREY: So, Luis, want to join us up here? This is Luis, everybody. Welcome Luis to the show.
How old are you now?
LUIS (Molested By His Stepfather): Twenty-two.
WINFREY: Twenty-two. So Luis is now 22 years old. And this abuse--how often was your stepfather abusing you?
LUIS: It was pretty consistently. It was almost on a daily basis.
WINFREY: On a daily basis. Uh-huh. And why, when your mother first asked you about it that first time--were you 11 at the time? Eleven?
LUIS: I was--I--she had, you know, thrown signs here and there. I knew, you know--I've always been really close to my mom, so, you know, she'd ask me and I'd be like, `No, he's not doing anything. He's not doing--don't worry. Don't worry, Mom. He's--no, Mom,' you know.
WINFREY: Why would you say that? Every parent watching right now wants to know why you said that. Don't you?
LUIS: I...
WINFREY: You want to know. Because you think, you know--your mother's thinking, `I'm here. I'm asking you. Tell me.' Was it a safety issue for you? Did you think if you told...
LUIS: I knew that he wouldn't--I wasn't scared of him.
WINFREY: Were you trying to protect your mother?
LUIS: I was--I was trying to protect our family. I wasn't dumb when I was that age. I knew how it was living when it was just my brother and I, you know, being so poor and being whatever. And, you know, he had come into our lives and, you know, we had a big home and we had food on the table and we had this and we had that. And at that age, I was like, `You know, if I tell, what's my mom gonna do with three kids and no job and'--you know, I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it.
MARILYN: He had told me that he had read in school that kids that are abused are taken out of the home, and that he didn't want to get taken away from me and from his brother and sister and...
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Did you think that could happen to you?
LUIS: I thought it was a possibility at that time. I didn't want to go into foster care. I didn't want them to see my mom as an unfit mother, because that's never how I saw her. I mean, that's not how it was, you know. And I didn't want--I mean, that would be just the most horrible thing ever, if, you know, my mom was gone, and my sister and my brother, and all of a sudden I'm alone in a--foster care. You know, I wanted--I somehow in my head thought that if I could just wait until I was, you know, 16, I could just run away. You know, I could get out of there and, you know, steal everybody away and everything would be OK because then we could make it, you know.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Did you not tell my producer that you were resentful at times that your mother stayed?
LUIS: After he got taken away, he moved into his own place, and I think at times I was--I was hurt.
WINFREY: That she kept seeing him after he moved out.
LUIS: Yeah.
WINFREY: Of course you would be hurt.
LUIS: Oh, yeah.
WINFREY: Why did you still want to be with him even after he moved out?
MARILYN: I thought that--I guess a part of me thought that he could get help, and for a long time, I did think that. And then from talking to him, from spending time with him, I saw that a lot of his basic thinking was not changing, you know. He wasn't abusing, but...
WINFREY: That you know of.
MARILYN: That I know of, right. I--since he wasn't at home, I knew 100 percent my kids were no longer...
WINFREY: You knew your kids were, but what about other people's kids? Did you ever think about that? Did you ever think about that? And did he abuse other people's kids or just his own kids?
LUIS: You know what? I firmly believe that I would never put my child anywhere close to him. I would never, ever, ever, ever. And with him--with him, I don't know if it was much the molesting, but I think that he was--he felt powerless. I think it gave him power to do that, to take control, and even if it was over a little 10-year-old, I think it made him feel the power that he wanted to.
WINFREY: Yeah, of course, they do. They do.
LUIS: You know?
MARILYN: Well, yeah. And the control he had over me that--you know, he would manipulate me. He'd pick fights over so many little things to take my mind away from what might be happening with the kids to what's happening over here. And he controlled the money. He controlled everything.
WINFREY: What--you know, I don't know him and I don't know--but just--if you were just to look at the track record of a pedophile, nobody molests one child. Nobody does. Nobody does. Nobody does. So the fact that you were, as his stepson, convenient, just was that. You were convenient. If there were other children available, then you could just about bet on it that he was abusing other people's children, too.
LUIS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
WINFREY: It's so interesting listening to you still, because it feels like in many ways you still do. You're a good son. You want to protect your mother...
LUIS: I do.
WINFREY: ...just as you did when you were a little boy. All right. I really thank you. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. Really good. Really.
Coming up, her husband of eight years was one of the worst child rapists the police had ever seen, and she had no clue. Her chilling story next.
WINFREY: Child molesters are cunning and they are coming after your children. They are in your neighborhoods, their schools, their churches--yes--and, as you'll see, maybe even sleeping in your bed.
(Excerpt from videotape)
WINFREY: When Leanna graduated from high school, she was a single mother looking for love and security. Then she met James Perry.
Ms. PERRY: It happened very quickly. You know, the fall in love and making you feel good and wanting to take care of me and my daughter. And I was 19. It was absolutely wonderful.
WINFREY: The two married and had a baby girl together. Life seemed good.
Ms. PERRY: He was an awesome dad. I mean we--you know, we had our birthday parties. We had--you know, that we had for the kids. We'd go swimming. It was great.
WINFREY: But as years passed, the marriage grew rocky. James was often out of the house and Leanna suspected he was having an affair. When he was at home, he was locked in a room with his computer.
Ms. PERRY: I knew that he started looking at, you know, pornography. And I just--I didn't understand it. I didn't get it. I didn't understand the purpose. You know, now that I look back, he always made time for the kids. It was a good thing then, until you find out why.
WINFREY: Leanna says James was also growing violent.
Ms. PERRY: He always knew how to hit. Jamie would always hit in the temple. You know, he'd punch in the temple. It doesn't leave a bruise. He'd spit at me. He'd spit food in my face. He'd throw plates at me.
WINFREY: Then on the night of February 13th, 2004, Leanna awoke to the shock of her life.
Ms. PERRY: I come out into the living room and there's 15, 17 FBI agents with their guns searching the house. You know, and I remember whispering to him, `What's going on?' And he just said, `I don't know.'
(End of excerpt)
WINFREY: The 17 FBI agents and police officers in Leanna's living room were there to arrest her husband, James Perry. James had videotaped himself having sex with an eight-year-old girl and sold it on the Internet to make money.
First of all, when all these FBI come into your house and there's--they handcuff you and handcuffed him, and you say, `What's going on?' and he says, `I don't know.'
Ms. PERRY: Right.
WINFREY: And then as he's being carried out, he whispered...
Ms. PERRY: He had yelled out, `I love you,' and I said it back.
WINFREY: And you said it back.
Ms. PERRY: I said it back.
WINFREY: `I love you.' What did you think was going on?
Ms. PERRY: I had absolutely no idea. He liked to smoke marijuana, so that was the first thing that went through my mind is that they're all here for that.
WINFREY: OK, 17 FBI agents and handcuffs. OK.
Ms. PERRY: Right. Right, exactly.
WINFREY: And so then what happened?
Ms. PERRY: I was handcuffed for about 15 minutes, and then, oh, heavy questioning, probably five, six hours.
WINFREY: What did they--then when did they tell you?
Ms. PERRY: Right away. They took me aside and sat me down. They told me that they have pictures of Jamie with my daughter and one of their friends.
WINFREY: What did you think when the police told you that he was a child molester?
Ms. PERRY: I thought they had the wrong person, wrong house.
Ms. PERRY: Wrong person.
WINFREY: And who was the eight-year-old girl on the videotape that got your husband caught?
Ms. PERRY: My daughter.
WINFREY: Was your daughter.
Ms. PERRY: Mm-hmm. That girl was my daughter.
WINFREY: Mm-hmm. So for Leanna, the nightmare was just beginning as her husband's secret life was then exposed. How long had you been married at the time?
Ms. PERRY: Eight years.
WINFREY: Eight years. His layers of lies began to unravel. Here's what police told her about the man she once loved.
(Excerpt from videotape)
WINFREY: James Perry is a notorious sexual predator who for years eluded the Wisconsin police.
Ms. MAUREEN WALL (Detective): We really had a good idea of the kind of person we were looking for, but we couldn't get anybody to call up and say, `Hey, it's this person, James Perry.'
WINFREY: When the FBI finally found their man, he was an ordinary father of two who was leading an incomprehensible double life. Evidence showed that Perry was videotaping himself having sex with his young victims. Hidden in a safe under his house, police found the tapes, pornographic CD-ROMs and hundreds of pictures of the little girls he stalked. He also had a collection of lingerie in children's sizes.
(End of excerpt)
WINFREY: And you didn't have a clue.
Ms. PERRY: Didn't have a clue.
WINFREY: Leanna's ex-husband, James Perry--the now-infamous Mall Rapist is what he was referred to--confessed to 40 sexual assaults on children, and he was given 375 years in prison, the longest sentence for sex crimes in Wisconsin's history.
I hear that when you asked the authorities, you said to them, `You know, how bad is he?' What did they tell you?
Ms. PERRY: Oh, it's the worst that they've ever seen.
WINFREY: The worst that they'd ever seen.
Ms. PERRY: The worst that they'd ever seen.
WINFREY: And so then is your head reeling?
Ms. PERRY: Shock. Absolute shock.
Ms. PERRY: Trying to find some reason, trying to rationalize it, trying to understand it.
WINFREY: We'll be right back.
Coming up, the warning signs Leanna missed that every mother should be looking for. That's next.
WINFREY: Now that you're looking back--because I know that one of the reasons you agreed to do this is you wanted to help other women...
Ms. PERRY: True.
WINFREY: see the signs. What were they?
Ms. PERRY: True. There was a lot of time spent on the computer. I think that lured him in. I think that got him into it.
WINFREY: And there are a lot of women who are watching right now, their husbands are into pornography, and into pornography in a way that they probably don't know.
Ms. PERRY: Exactly.
WINFREY: So do you see that as a clear sign?
Ms. PERRY: Yeah.
Ms. PERRY: Yeah. I do. I mean, that was a lot of time, and it just got worse.
WINFREY: What did you think he was doing?
Ms. PERRY: Oh, he would just--you know, there was games. He liked to play chess. He liked to install...
WINFREY: And you believed that.
Ms. PERRY: I did.
WINFREY: You believed he was in there playing chess.
Ms. PERRY: Not all the time.
WINFREY: No, you didn't. No, you didn't. No, you didn't.
Ms. PERRY: Not all the time. I tried to make myself believe it.
Ms. PERRY: I mean, he wanted to lock the doors. He wanted to spend all of his time there. He wouldn't go to work anymore. It's not acceptable. It's not OK. That's not how any type of...
WINFREY: OK. So why did you accept it?
Ms. PERRY: I was afraid.
WINFREY: Afraid of...
Ms. PERRY: Of him.
WINFREY: Afraid that--What?--he would hurt you?
Ms. PERRY: Oh, sure.
WINFREY: Because he was abusive with you.
Ms. PERRY: Yes, he was. Yes.
WINFREY: OK. So you'd resigned yourself to whatever he wants?
Ms. PERRY: I'd still try to--no, I'd still try to fight, and that's what always got me in trouble. I'd still try to change things and make them the way that they were supposed to be, but that didn't work.
WINFREY: OK. Would you agree--because I've seen this with so many women, and really that's really the reason why I'm doing this, because it's just maddening to me that women put--allow their children to be placed--when women--and I'm sure you'd be one of those women who'd say, `I'd do anything for my children.'
Ms. PERRY: Mm-hmm.
WINFREY: `I'd do anything for my children.' And yet so often for the love of a man, or love of somebody, affection of a man, you would put your children in jeopardizing situations. Would you say you did that?
Ms. PERRY: I did, because I should have left. I should have left him the moment that he hit me.
WINFREY: What was your sex life like with him?
Ms. PERRY: In the beginning, it was great. And then that was another thing that I really started to question is there was just no interest. He had no interest for me whatsoever.
WINFREY: After what?
Ms. PERRY: Oh, I would say four years.
WINFREY: After four years.
Ms. PERRY: After halfway through, yeah.
WINFREY: And so is there a discussion about that or something?
Ms. PERRY: Oh, sure, sure.
Ms. PERRY: You bet.
WINFREY: And he'd say what?
Ms. PERRY: It was me.
WINFREY: So tell me what--so he's going out and he's raping young girls and one of them--raping young girls and having sex with children, your own daughter being one of them.
Ms. PERRY: Mm-hmm.
WINFREY: And you--your daughter showed no signs that this was going on.
Ms. PERRY: Absolutely not.
Ms. PERRY: People like Jamie will terrify children to where they won't talk. And when there's a threat for four years of her life of, `I'm going to kill your mother and your sister if you share our secret,' she's not going to tell.
WINFREY: Yeah. We'll be right back.
Coming up, Leanna's ex-husband, a convicted rapist, faces his victims in court, next.
(Excerpt from courtroom proceedings)
(Graphic on screen)
James Perry's Sentencing Hearing
Unidentified Man #4: Do you remember when you had the gun to my daughter's head? You were telling her that if she screamed you would blow her blanking brains out all over the wall.
Unidentified Girl: I want to let you know that you may have taken all of us for 10 minutes for our bodies, but you never took a damn one of our souls.
Mr. JAMES PERRY: I'm sorry with all my heart. I would do anything, OK, anything. I just--I mean, I would sell my soul to Satan if I had to, to take it back.
(End of excerpt)
WINFREY: It's already sold. That was James Perry reacting to the cries of his victims on the day of his sentencing. Perry's ex-wife, Leanna, is here. For 10 years she says she loved a man she never guessed was a vicious sexual predator.
As a mother, do you share any kind of responsibility for not noticing what was going on with your child?
Ms. PERRY: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. And...
WINFREY: And how long had the abuse of her been going on by him?
Ms. PERRY: They said with her interviews, kindergarten, since five or six.
WINFREY: Since kindergarten.
Ms. PERRY: Mm-hmm.
WINFREY: Uh-huh.
Ms. PERRY: Yeah. And that's a big secret, and it comes out when she's eight. That's a very big secret.
WINFREY: OK. Thank you so much. Thank you, Leanna.
WINFREY: Well, again, thank you to all my guests. I hope that my intention was fulfilled, that somebody watching today heard something, saw something, felt something that will make you look at your reality different in terms of your children and what's going on in your house, because I think what most people think is that molesters are the boogeyman. No. Most children are molested by people that they know, and that's why it is one out of four children--the statistics are so strong--that we hear one out of four children are molested, and they're molested by people that they know and trust and many times even love. Thanks for watching.

No comments: