The Man Next Door.

by Lori Dwyer on August 24, 2010 · 35 comments

The events detailed here have taken place over the last few weeks. It has shocked me to very foundations- what I believed was safe, what I thought I knew, and how much trust I should place in my own instincts. I think this post is an attempt to untangle the threads as to why this has had such an effect on me.

We live in a safe, quiet neighborhood. Everyone knows everyone. Pushbikes are left out on the front lawn, day and night, with no fear that they’ll be stolen.

Everyone knows everyone’s children here, by sight if not by name. We keep an eye out for each others kids. We chat to our neighbors, over fences and bottles and beer, barbecues in the summer.

My illusion of safety has been exploded, shattered like glass.

This does not feel like a safe place anymore.


Four years ago, we first moved into our Purple House. I remember this tableaux, paused as a gritty still frame in my mind. Our Neighbor. Mid thirties, clean shaven, respectable house, good job. No girlfriend, not then, she came later. Children, boys, the kids of the neighborhood, coming, going, from his house.

“Maybe he’s a pedophile?”

Was it my husband or I, who said that, weakly, joking, but with a frown gently creasing our face? Was it my husband, or I, who dismissed the fears of the other, tutted at the tastelessness of that half-joke?

I don’t know. It doesn’t matter now.


It’s a small community.

By some law of short separation, our Neighbor is- was?- a close friend of the family who run the playgroup my children and I attend every week. We laughed, when we learnt our Neighbor was to play Santa at the Christmas party. I snapped a picture of him, on my phone, to show my husband.

I had imagined my son being apprehensive, clinging to me, as he had the week before when meeting another Santa in the our local shopping center. He didn’t, not this time. Many other children did. My son ran straight up and sat on Santa’s lap. As a joke, for a photo, I sat there with them. I’m sure we have a copy of that photo, somewhere, in one of the albums we have scattered about, piecemeal chronicles of our lives. It occurs to me, just now, as I write this- I should find that picture, destroy it. Lest I come across it one day, and it scare me.

Was there something different about him,our Neighbor, in a costume, something extroverted where he was an introvert, something dangerous,something frightening? Did I dismiss it, knowing the liberating power of a costume, the lightness it can bring?

Or is that just hindsight, whispering to me?


When had the children stopped coming to our Neighbor’s house? Was it when his girlfriend suddenly materialised, took up residence in his house, began running her business from his garage…? I think it was. Our Neighbor’s lovely girlfriend. Who looked at my children so wistfully, and smiled that she wanted children of her own, and soon.

She is still there, at our Neighbor’s house, three weeks after the Fact. I verge between wondering if she knew, if she turned one eye blind and the other to the ceiling; and being disgusted with myself for thinking that, because surely that is what everyone is thinking, and she must feel the heat of those thoughts.

She has not worked, has not had anyone visit her, since this happened. She has barely left the house.

I don’t want to, but I can’t help it. My heart is breaking for her.

The day the police came, and raided our Neighbor’s house, we speculated, my husband and I. Had their house been broken into? Tax fraud? Some kind of problem with her business? What could possibly be going on in the home of our respectable, clean living Neighbor?

How long, before things began to fall into place, before facts and intuitions and guesswork began to click and turn and grind against one another?

How long before we realised that he hadn’t come home? Hadn’t been back to the house at all?


Was it the same time we read the newspaper article, the one that stated a man, from our suburb, had been arrested after simultaneous raids on his home and workplace?

Yes, I think it was.


Five counts of sexual assault of a child, aged between 10-16, with circumstances of aggravation. Two counts of producing child pornography. Six counts of distributing it.


All those children at his house.

The intimidating, extroverted man in the Santa suit.

And a Google search, that showed police footage, unmistakeably the man who has lived next door to us for the last four years, in handcuffs, his head being ducked into the back of a paddy wagon.

Click, click, click.


Words can’t even begin to describe… I feel disgusted. Sick. Violated. Angry. He has never sinned against me, nor my children. It does not matter.

I’m so angry. Angry at him, for what he has done. Angry at myself, for not having enough instinct to see this man for what he was.

The empathy I feel for his girlfriend pales in comparison to the thousand salty, wretched tears my heart is sobbing for the children this monster has hurt. For the mothers of these children. For the pain he has inflicted, that will echo to a thousand unfathomable places.

Sick. Shaking with relief, that my children are so small, small enough that I kept them protected. Shocked, disgusted by the knowledge that had my son been ten, eleven years old, and said “Mum, I’m going to the Neighbor’s house to play pool in his garage”, I would not have stopped him. I may have encouraged it.

I would have sent my children into the den of the lion.

Our Neighbor was such a nice man, after all.


On the alcove of our Neighbor’s house, molded into the brickwork, there is the sad face of a lion, surrounded by a mighty, plaster mane.

Just recently, late at night, when I can’t sleep, that image haunts me.

I wonder just how many children that lion’s sad face is haunting too.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

marketingtomilk August 30, 2010 at 1:01 am

Fuck Lori, what a horrible thing to happen.
Thank god he was caught.
Hugs to you



Amy August 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I don't even know where to begin. It shakes me to the core. I can't even imagine what you are going through.


Being Me August 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

I'm so sorry it was so very close to your safe haven.


Jen August 25, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Holy Smoke Lori :(. How horrifying that he was right next door. It is bad enough hearing about this type of thing occuring in your suburb let alone it being someone that you know :(. I agree with the above poster, you just never know what form evil will take :( . Just look at the teacher raids from a few years back who had child porn on their computers, one of which I had met! I would never have picked that person as having that! :(.

(((((hugs))))) my lovely friend to you, your family and your neighbours as you go through this :(


Nomie August 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm

You never know do you… and as much as I like to think I am a rational being with humanitarian tendencies… sometimes I find it hard. A few years ago a close friend of my sister was convicted on child pornography charges. It was enough for me to never have contact with him or his wife ever again.

What a horrible reality you are faced with. But don't be harsh on yourself. We can be as careful as we can, but nasty and evil comes in many disguises. We just never know.


MultipleMum August 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm

We have one in our suburb too. When he returned from jail, he made the front page of the local paper. I sort of felt sorry for him (hoping he had been rehabilitated?) until I realised he would be living in his old house, right next door to the poor girl he molested. You poor buggar! It totally sucks to find out such awful things about people we know. Nobody wants to know a paedophile, but sadly, we probably all do.


pixus75 August 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm

wow. yeh that's scary and the kind of think you'd rather not have to tell.. it's always ten times worse when you actually knew the person. or the victims…
i think i would not have allowed my kid over to a single man, but the girlfriend would sort of have made it 'ok'. i don't want to even imagine how the people feel who allowed their children to go. :(


River August 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Don't be angry with yourself Lori. You did know in the back of your mind, in your heart, what he was. You and your husband jokingly remarked on it, remember? You couldn't have known just how true it was, but your instinct kicked in and I have to say that had your boys been older you would not have allowed them to play next door. Something in you would have stopped them.


Heather August 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I would ask where you live, but I would hate to find out you live in my old house. We found out after 2 years that our wonderful, single next door neighbor (who made us feel safe when our husbands were out of town because he was southernly and a former sniper) is a pedophile. My neighbors mother instincts kicked in and she went to the sheriff. She called me to do the same thing. Then a sheriff came through the neighborhood asking questions. I trusted this man and wondered why he didn't live in his home the first year (his Mom said it cost too much and he was saving his money. Now I think he was on parole). We have to be vigilant parents and listen to ourselves and it's hard, but you have to continue to trust in mankind so as not to freak out our children. I wish you a speedy recovery from this terrible experience. (We were planning on moving before we learned this. The news had us move up our date).


x0xJ August 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Ugh how this turns my stomache.
Sadly, no where in this world is "safe". This place isn't that of what it was when we were kids, or our parents were kids, or our grandparents were kids. Sure these people existed, but these people just seem more…ballsy? now don't they?


Wanderlust August 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Sadly, they come in every size, shape, economic class and it doesn't matter if they are good looking or not, clean-shaven or slovenly. You need to look past that and listen to your gut instincts. I'm glad your children were safe. I'm so sorry for the children who were not.


Nadiah August 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Do you think you might go see how his girlfriend is doing? Do you know her well enough to do so without seeming nosy? I don't imagine that she's holding up so well right now.


ClaireyH August 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm

amazing how your Mummy instincts were so in tune at the beginning, but your caring personality allowed you to believe the best from others.
I went to a catholic school and later found out that many of the boys were not treated all too well by the priests. My Mum freaked out when she found out, and instantly called me and my brother. We were fine, but I don't know about the lives of the abused.


Thea August 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

OMG Lori, I'm not at all surprised this has shaken you to the core. So, so close. xxx


Christy August 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

It seems to be the ones we trust. Mine was my uncle.


Draft Queen August 25, 2010 at 10:02 am

I know just how you feel. Though he wasn't a neighbor, he was my daughter's teacher last year. Every day she sat in his class, though she says he never bothered her, I still feel as sick as the day he was arrested last January.

Just awful.



Amy xxoo August 25, 2010 at 8:24 am

I lived next door to a paedophile growing up – my parents still live there. He was an older man, convicted of sexually assulating to small girls at his church, but because of his age and heart condition he was never sentenced to gaol. No matter though – we all knew, and we let him know we knew… my father by yelling, swearing and spitting at him if he even came close to our lawn; by warning other neighbours with kids when they moved into the street; by glaring at him when peddling past on our bikes.
I appreciate how scary it is for you – my bedroom faced his house and it was only on a very occasion that my mum could ever force me to open my blinds….


In Real Life August 25, 2010 at 6:21 am

Scary, scary, scary! Thank you for posting this. *HUGS*


The Frantic Mother. August 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Oh lord. I have know words for the lion that lives next door to you. I can only tell you that I lived with my lion for years and I have long since learned that the mind dose you a kindness. It makes you forget, or it makes you not remember. I hope you can calm you mind. Those children may or may not be fine, but at least they have there lives. Many more can clam even less. Trust me on this. I know from experience.


Brenda August 25, 2010 at 3:06 am

Paedophiles don't deserve any mercy at all. They don't!


makemommygosomethingsomething August 25, 2010 at 1:51 am

I can't even fathom this horrific, horrific thing. Thing is what he is. I just got a bad taste in my mouth and a serious hankering to kick someone's ass.
How disgusting and vile. Those who prey on innocent children should have their balls removed by way of horse stampede.
So sick Lori.
I'm thinking of you.


Michelle August 25, 2010 at 12:48 am

(((Lori))) It is so scary. This happened with our Choir Master at our Church a few years back. The same man who alwasy hugged my boy and had him sit on his lap as Santa. You just never know! Mich x


Mommy Lisa August 25, 2010 at 12:09 am

Its just awful. I cannot even imagine being neighbor to that. Our neighbor swindled people out of money by falsley buying over 60 homes – it PALES in comparison.


Dazee Dreamer August 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I am truly grateful that your children were not affected by this man.

One thing I have learned is to truly judge your instints. Especially if you are the type that doesn't judge people.

I will keep all those affected by him in my thoughts and prayers.


Mrs Woog August 25, 2010 at 9:43 am

Holy shit!! Makes you realise you have to be so careful and listen to your instincts. Am a bit shaken for you..


Jacki August 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm

This is unbelievable. It is sickening. I don't know what else to say.


mummabear1970 August 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

OMG. That is so scary. Who would ever seriously think someone like that was living right next door? Like Maxabella, I am lost for words….


alliecat August 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

How utterly devastating, scary and terrible. Right next door, and nobody knew, it's the common story of these sick people, they look so normal. It's how they get away with it for as long as they do. Thank God your kids are, were safe. But still I can imagine how you must feel shaken to the core.


Lucy August 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Oh Lori. I didn't realise he was such a close neighbour. I am so sorry. xx


Maxabella August 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Shocking shocking shocking. OMG. I have no words.


A Daft Scots Lass August 24, 2010 at 9:37 pm

This is shocking and probably even more so for you because he was someone you never actually suspected and lived right next door to you.

Scary stuff!


thepixiechick August 24, 2010 at 9:32 pm



Eva Gallant August 24, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Thank God your kids are safe. But all the same, it must be a horrifying realization. I'm sorry for your whole neighborhood.


MMBB August 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm
Good Golly Miss Holly! August 24, 2010 at 9:54 pm

God, I'm shaking after reading that. Such evil in this world, I hate it.


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