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'Family of criminals need place to turn for advice': wife of sex offender

A woman reveals the torment the family members of criminals go through, in Tokyo on Sept. 25, 2018. (Mainichi/Akira Iida)

TOKYO -- The 49-year-old wife of a man who committed indecent assault revealed in a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun that the family of criminals becomes increasingly isolated with nowhere to consult, although they themselves are not guilty of any crime.

The woman's life had changed severely. Her partner quit his job and the gap continues to widen between family members. "It's difficult to continue living together with him as I still don't know why he caused the incident," she admitted.

"We must search your house," the police said in a phone call early one morning in October 2015. The wife who received the call had just seen her husband off to work. She pleaded for the police to come to the home when her four children, aged 14 to 19 at the time, were not there. Soon after, she learned that her spouse had been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault for sexually touching a woman in her 30s.

The incident occurred five months before the arrest. The wife said it was unbearable to think that she had spent all that time with her partner who acted completely innocent.

When she saw her husband in the visitation room at the police station, he worried more about himself and his job than apologizing to other family members, said the wife. "You have to check that my name isn't on the web," he was quoted as telling her. The mother of four had to cancel education insurance and depend on her parents to raise money for the attorney's fee and a consolation payment to the victim.

She treated the case as a leave of absence by her husband to keep the news hidden from his workplace, and could only tell the children that their father "injured a woman." The desperate mother consulted the principal of one of the schools her children went to about transferring to another school in case information concerning the incident spread on the internet. She hoped to offer an apology to the victim through the lawyer, but any contact was rejected.

The 49-year-old woman appeared in court as a character witness for the defendant. She blamed herself for not noticing something different about her husband of over 20 years. There wasn't much remorse or compassion for the family in her partner's words as he pledged to rehabilitate himself. He was found guilty and was given a suspended sentence by the judge.

The convicted man was detained for about two and a half months. He had to quit his job after the incident became known at his workplace. The mother then told the truth about the case to her children. She placed her spouse in a treatment program for sex offenders hosted by a non-profit organization, but his participation didn't last long.

After three years, her husband found a new job at a different company and has not committed the same crime again. Although the couple lives together, the wife sometimes thinks about divorcing him as family relationships remain sour. She constantly worries about how the children feel about their father.

"I haven't been able to consult with anyone since the time of the incident, and I've had to carry the burden all by myself. I felt isolated," said the wife of the sex offender. "I didn't know how to face my husband once he came back home. There needs to be a place where the family of criminals can turn for advice."

(Japanese original by Akira Iida, City News Department)

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