I Was Targeted By A Sexual Predator — And Didn't Even Know It

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Sex, Family

Years later, he was arrested and I just kept thinking: That could have been me.

I matured young. I had the biggest boobs in my middle school class, and then in my high school class. It's not a bragging right (I could really have done without running in gym class and sexual harassment from upperclassmen); I'm just giving some background.

Add to that what a teacher of mine described as a "mature face" and I've basically looked 25 since I was 14. (At this rate, I can't wait to turn 30 and have people ask if I've written my last will and testament yet.) 

Combined with the fact that most of my friends in high school were in college or older already, it's not insane that most new people — and guys — I met assumed I could at least buy booze legally, if not rent a car, before I even had my learner's permit.

Because I was a bit of a writing prodigy as well as a pop-punk junkie, I got a job through some pals at a music magazine when I was 15. That led to opportunities interning and working in music PR and I was immersed in the rock and roll lifestyle, while still making sure I got my algebra homework done and having my parents pick me up for my curfew.

A big part of the rock and roll lifestyle is the voracious sexual appetites of certain musicians, not all of whom cared to ask how old I was. With the exception of one makeout session, nothing inappropriate ever happened beyond flirting and playful banter because while naive, I wasn't an idiot. And if my folks found out, I wouldn't have been able to go to prom.

That is, until I met Pete (whose name has been changed so he doesn't start lurking me again).

Pete was a guitarist in a relatively generic, try-hard local act who somehow convinced himself and a lot of women and girls that he was a huge deal. While still in high school, I had a part time job working as a PR assistant for the company repping his band.

I had a lot of direct communication with the band members to arrange press interviews and grab street team supplies, and they were all nice, if not particularly talented.

Pete in particular had taken a liking to me, but I always assumed he was just being nice since I worked with the group. He was a huge flirt, but he was like that with everyone, so I figured he was just a boisterous, attention-loving dude.

And he was, but it went beyond that.

One day, while I was still 16, Pete emailed me a slew of unsolicited dick pics.

I opened the email thinking it was a business thing — it had attachments and no subject line, so I assumed it was flyers he needed me to print out or something similar. Instead, it was half a dozen photographs of his penis from various angles.

I was horrified for a few reasons: One, I was 16. Two, I was worried they weren't for me and he'd be upset once he checked his sent folder and realized what happened. Three, I was worried they were for me, which was even worse. Four, how would I have explained that to my parents if they'd walked in at that moment?

Not knowing what to do and hoping it was a mistake, I did nothing. I deleted the email, erased the files, took a shower to somehow feel less skeevy, and went to bed.

(Of course, in retrospect, I should've kept the emails as documentation and filed a report, but remember that I was 16 years old. You think you know everything at 16. No one actually does, not even Doogie Howser.)

Except it wasn't a mistake.

Three days later, I got another email with more attachments. This time, there was a subject line: "You weren't impressed?" (And no, I wasn't. There's nothing impressive about an adult sending photos of their naked body to someone who can't legally drive without a parent in the passenger seat.)

I froze up, unsure of what to do. This was a business contact. If I spoke up, I could be prevented from getting jobs or internships before I even got into college, which was a terrifying thought for a teenager already pretty much living a slightly watered down dream.

I also feared people's reactions, knowing at least a few people would wonder what I did or how I'd acted to "ask for" those. I also knew that a lot of reactions would just be like, "Oh, that's Pete. That's just how he is!"

Additionally, other than my boss and a few direct coworkers, most people didn't realize I was so young, perhaps Pete included, so I thought it may not be quite as deliberately shady as it ended up being.

So again, I did nothing, once more hoping that through some tragic auto fill error that the pictures weren't meant for me — especially since we had a meeting the next week.

The meeting came and went, and while I was pretty uncomfortable and quieter than normal, Pete acted totally normal, so I thought that he may not even have realized what happened.

What if he'd been hacked or something? So before leaving, I told him I'd been getting some weird emails from his account and suggested he change his password just in case.

His response?

"Nothin' weird about that!" With a wink and an attempt to grab my behind.

I froze up again, mumbled something like, "Oh, OK ... just don't do that anymore, OK?" and scurried out.

I immediately emailed my then-boss as soon as I got home and asked to be transferred to a different artist's account, using the excuse that Pete's band just wasn't my thing and I didn't think I could do them justice. She was surprised, but didn't object.

Two weeks later, I got more dick pics from Pete with a note saying he missed "us." Nauseous, I emailed my boss asking her to make me a new email account for business purposes (I'd been using my personal one), marked his message as spam, and silently hoped he would give it up.

And eventually he did, after a few more attempts that went unanswered but saved just in case he wanted to try escalating anything.

Years passed. When I was 20, I got an email from my old boss with a link to an article: Pete had been arrested for transporting a minor — according to reports, she was 14 — across state lines to have sex. She couldn't believe it, but I could, because it very easily could have been me if he knew where I slept.

Pete ended up spending a few years in prison (apparently this wasn't a first offense), during which time I didn't have to worry about getting any weird emails. In fact, I had almost completely forgot about him until he popped up on my Facebook feed this week when he got released.

I blocked him immediately to prevent any issues, but I probably didn't have to. After all, I'm way too old for him by now.



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