This is Cindy replying! Angelinheaven, needless to say, this is going to be a tough one, but I would like to offer you hope. In the right circumstances your marriage can survive and even be better than it once was, but there will need to be a lot of work done on both of your parts.
The first thing that is going to need to happen and is non-negotiable is that you NEED to protect the child. Yes, I realize that a 16 year old is not an infant, but you're absolutely right--she is not of the age of majority and with their differences in ages, it would be criminal sexual assault. So as the responsible adult, you MUST move and quickly to protect her. If you need to do so, ask for her to be removed from your home. She just can not stay in your home anymore and be safe.
The second thing that is going to have to happen is that you and your husband are going to have to accept that you are not going to be able to get through this and "cover it up." The truth is going to have to be told, and he will have to take responsibility for his choices to do these actions, and he is going to lose some of his position and reputation. That is not being "mean" but rather is the natural consequence of the choices he, as an adult, made. He will very likely no longer be able to be a minister and chances are very good that you will be removed as well. There is some chance that he may encounter legal trouble, may have to spend some time in jail, and may have to be on the sex offenders list. Again, this is the cost of choosing to fondle a minor child, and it is a high price that will cost him dearly and deeply harm those of you whom he loves.
Once you have accepted that your life is forever changed because of this, I would recommend that the two of you decide exactly how you are going to tell the truth. At this point his attitude is going to be very telltale--namely, if he is humble and willing to take personal responsibility and not blame others, there is a better chance of getting through this. On the other hand, if he is denying it, wanting to cover up and lie, and blaming the young girl, then chances are lower and it will definitely be harder.
I would truly recommend that as soon as possible, he sign up for counseling specific to child molesters. If he is already in a program, or is already in treatment, it could be helpful. I would also recommend that you look specifically for a lawyer who specializes in sex offender defense. These are both things that are beyond the purview of my abilities and expertise. For your marriage, I would honestly recommend contacting us directly immediately--I just don't think a reply here on YourTango can be adequate! However, I would also recommend that for right now you two agree to make no decision about divorce FOR NOW until things have settled down. Clearly the foundation upon which you've built your world has been destroyed, so you are going to extremely devastated. Thus, for you--for now, sleep in another room, spend a lot of time with your children, and do your best to survive. If you can, let him know that you two are on the same team and will weather this storm but it isn't easy for you. That's about the best you can do, and that's okay. For him--for now, concentrate on getting the help he needs, telling the truth, and taking personal responsibility.
Angelinheaven, you and your husband will definitely be in our prayers, as will the young girl who came to your home and was harmed by those she trusted. I hope to hear from you soon at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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I am a man who survived the charge by my stepdaughter which came to nothing-at last.
My view is much more hard hearted than the others who wrote advice.
Protect yourself, your children, and your congregation! Send your soon-to-be-ex-husband to prison and GET OUT as quickly as possible. The members of your church will forgive you for divorcing him and sending him to prison.
You might be required to forgive him for his transgression, but it is much more important to protect your kids and any other child that he might have contact with in your congregation.
Children who are molested by people in a trusted position of authority are emotionally damaged and scarred for life; even though they receive counseling and other services offered to these small victims. These little people will never truly be able to trust completely again. They are unable to trust police, doctors, ministers, and even their spouse.
These kids are injured for the rest of their lives because of these men (and women) like your husband. Your man should pay dearly for his actions!
If I ever did something like this I would expect nothing less. This is a crime that is not truly forgivable and destroys lives for the future generation.
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He says he's SORRY? No, "I'm sorry" is an apology that's used when you accidentally bump into someone at the bus stop. This is MUCH, MUCH, more serious. Although I wouldn't say that it's necessarilly the end of your marriage, it does look like it's in VERY serious danger. Admirable that the marriage is of such concern to you at this point, but it seems to me that the marriage itself isn't what should be the most immediate concern. This young lady has been harmed, whether she was agreeable to the situation or not. SHE...was obviously NOT in complete control of the situation. For one, she was in emotional distress to begin with in needing to live with a good Christian family for some strong emotional and spiritual guidance. Now she has really got NO IDEA if such a thing really even exists and perhaps may only be a myth. That's a TERRIBLE disgrace. AS far as it being said that she doesn't want to file charges....THAT is NOT something that the minor should have to make a decision on. And NO-ONE within the heirachy of that church should have gone along with such a decision. If it TRULY WAS only kissing, THAT may not involve a criminal offense. Fondeling?.....It may! And who to say it WAS only fondeling? The child should talk to responsible family authorities with the local DYS or whatever state welfare authorities cover such areas in your state. Personally, I'd have a hard time believing this is your husbands FIRST attempt at taking advantage of young women in need, or ANY other women for that matter. This young lady never even got in the front DOOR before your husband started to have relations with her? Sounds pretty agressive to me. As far as YOUR emotions are concerned? I would think you are probably still in shock over this incident and probably can't even think straight at this point. I would suggest that you have HIM move into another ministers home if at all possible or even a relative's home. YOU need to have time and space, a few MONTHS, to begin to start to think clearly. This has been a great affront to your marriage. YOU need thoughtful care and counseling---for YOURSELF, for YOU to grasp the severity of the situation. Do not try to get right back up and scurry off like a wounded animal that has just been hit by a car. You ARE in shock. It's most understandable. I don't know your husband, (perhaps YOU don't even know him as you thought you did.), but it would seem that HIS interests would be to minimize the situation. Perhaps even others in the same religious community are doing the same. Allow yourself to be able to digest exactly what has happened. That won't happen overnight. You could make some very poor decisions right now for which you will wish you had spent more time to think about somewhere down the road. Take your time.....don't rush. See that this young lady gets the attention that she needs by notifying the proper authorities. YOU'VE done nothing wrong. Allow yourself to FEEL your own emotions and even have a few good "cries'. There is much to process in your mind. Don't shortchange YOURSELF for your husbands benefit. If he truly just made a one time poor decision.....let HIM take responsibility as to how he will address it properly. Then YOU make the decision as to whether he's really sincere or not. But NOW is TOO soon for you to address HIS errors.
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