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Dear Abby: Niece shocked to learn reason uncle in prison

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I cannot believe it! My parents tricked me into comforting a child molester.

When I was young, my uncle “Dave” went to prison. My family told it like this: “Dave had an affair with a 17-year-old girl who was pretending to be 18. They made a sex tape, her parents found it and accused him of rape. He went to prison for life.”

My parents visit and talk to him regularly, although nobody else in the extended family does, and they always encouraged me to communicate with him. They say he made “poor decisions” but doesn’t deserve his prison sentence or the family neglect. I felt bad for him, so I willingly joined in phone calls and letter writing.

I recently mentioned all this to a friend who is experienced in the legal field. He thought the story sounded peculiar, so we looked up Dave and found out he had multiple counts of sexual assault on a child under 14. In other words, my parents tricked me into regular conversations with a child molester.

I’m floored. Should I confront them? If so, what do I say? Should I tell my brother? I want nothing to do with Dave, and I’m horrified that my parents would lie in his defense.

— Horrified in Oklahoma

Dear Horrified: I can understand why you want nothing to do with this relative. Tell your parents that you have written to me. Ask them why they chose to minimize what your uncle did and encourage you to communicate with a predator. Doing so was a gross betrayal of your trust. I’m not sure how they can justify their actions because it is the job of parents to protect their child.

You should absolutely tell your brother what has been happening because it’s appalling.

Dear Abby: I love my boyfriend. We have been together nearly six years, but there are a few issues. The biggest one is his diet.

He eats like it’s going out of style. The only reason he’s not 400 pounds is because his job keeps him active. He has put on 60 pounds since we started dating, and we can no longer sleep together because of the snoring his weight gain has caused. He can no longer stand to be outdoors when he’s home because it’s always “too hot.”

When we first started seeing each other, he was fit and active. Now he comes home, eats and stares at his phone. He’s always unhappy with his weight, but when I ask him to please eat better, his response is, “Nothing makes me as happy as a cookie.” He would rather be a 500-pound blob who never had to move if it meant he could eat cake all day.

I feel he has chosen food over me. I’m only 27, and I know I’ll have to sleep alone for however long I’m with him. I don’t know if I can do that. I make an effort to maintain myself for him, but clearly, the favor isn’t returned. What are your thoughts?

— Worrying in Florida

Dear Worrying: If nothing makes your boyfriend happier than eating a cookie, it’s time you got to the bottom of what is eating HIM. When a fit and active person suddenly loses interest in his health and becomes careless about his diet, one has to wonder if he may be using food to cope with painful or unpleasant emotions. Continue to help and support him as much as you can, but frankly, it may be time for the two of you to seek relationship counseling from a licensed mental health professional before your boyfriend’s diet causes permanent damage to his health.

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