Danielle claims that her husband of nearly 10 years, John, has been living a secret life — reaching out to men online for sex and looking at child pornography. John insists that the child porn was accidentally downloaded, and while he admits to exchanging emails with men, he maintains that he never met up with anyone in person.
How does he explain his actions? John agrees to take a polygraph test to prove that he has not had any sexual contact with men or with children — what will the results reveal?This program contains strong sexual content. Viewer discretion advised.
Danielle says that one night in 2006, she found something strange on the family computer — a picture of a man’s genitals. She says she asked her husband, John, about it, and he became angry and blamed her mother. “That kind of gave me a red flag, but I brushed it off,” she says. Then, in 2010, Danielle says she found emails to John from a man talking about meeting up for group sex. “My husband said, ‘I’m down for anything,'” she recalls. Danielle says John insisted he was just looking to go out and “eat burgers and watch football.” She says she didn’t believe him — and asked if he might be gay. “He said, ‘Absolutely not.’ John swore he never met up with this man,” Danielle recalls. She adds, “As far as I knew, he was only emailing that one guy, and he swore he’d never do it again.”
In November 2012, Danielle says she made another shocking discovery on their computer — multiple child porn images, along with one video. “I was absolutely sick,” she says, recalling that she pulled John out of bed to confront him and then called the police. “His explanation was that he clicked into one thing, and it led to another thing, and it downloaded on our computer. I said, ‘That is bull*,'” she remembers. Danielle continues, “My concern is: My husband has looked at child porn. He’s putting himself out there for gay sex. What’s next?”
“One of your questions is: Is John gay?” Dr. Phil says to Danielle onstage. “And if he is, you don’t judge him for it. You’re saying just tell you, right?” He reviews the discoveries Danielle says have raised her suspicions, along with the admissions John makes about his online activities — some of which are news to Danielle.
John admits to reaching out to men online — and says he was even turned on by the exchanges — but insists that he is not gay. “It was, in my mind, forbidden and taboo, which I think spiked my curiosity,” he explains. John says that over five years, he exchanged emails with “a couple hundred men,” but claims that he never actually hooked up with any of them. “It’s all been just a fantasy world,” he says.
John is also adamant that downloading the child pornography was an accident. “When I was looking at the images, I was thinking, ‘Oh, crap! Oh, God!’ he says, adding, “But for some reason, I viewed them.” He admits that he went back and looked at the images “a couple other times.” He says that he doesn’t know why he did it — and insists that he was never sexually aroused by them. “I feel ashamed of what I’ve done,” he confides. “It makes me very sad that there’s a chance I could go to jail and be separated from my wife and kids. The last thing I want to do is break up our family.”
“I’m interested in how much truth-telling you’re willing to do here,” Dr. Phil says to John. He mentions that when John was 19, he was convicted of a fourth-degree felony for statutory rape involving a girl who was 16. “Have you told [Danielle] the full truth about that conviction?” he asks.
“I believe so, yes,” John replies. “The only thing you didn’t know would be you met her that one Thanksgiving,” he tells Danielle. “I told you about that, but I don’t know if I told you, like, convincingly though.”
“There are severe penalties for this kind of thing,” Dr. Phil continues. “The reason why I’m asking about what was actually done is that if he didn’t go to trial, that means he pled.” He asks John, “What did you plead down from?”
“I can’t remember, honestly,” John says. “I didn’t have an attorney. I had a public defender.” He adds, “I know they originally accused me of having sex with her, which is absolutely a lie. I did not have sex with her.”
“These things popped up multiple times,” Dr. Phil says. “So you clicked on it, after the first time, knowing that it was child pornography; and you saved it to a file; and then you went in that file and looked at it multiple times. So, there’s nothing accidental about it.”
“Correct, after the first occasion, nothing accidental,” John replies.
“How many times have you gone back and looked at that file?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Between the five different files, probably about 20 times,” he admits.
“So you’re looking at child pornography on a fairly regular basis, on purpose,” Dr. Phil says, and John agrees.
“I just don’t understand it, because he is a great dad and and a great husband,” Danielle says. “But he has this secret life that I don’t know anything about.”
“You have a big question: If he is actively, consciously, looking at child pornography, you are concerned about your own children,” Dr. Phil says to Danielle. He continues, “I’ve just met him, and obviously you must take great care to protect your children, but John has been a responsible father in many ways … History-wise, I don’t think [anything] has happened, or is likely to happen. I call them as I see them, and I don’t believe that.”
Dr. Phil addresses John, “I’ll tell you what else I don’t believe. I don’t believe that you haven’t had sexual contact with a male in the 10 years you’ve been married. I don’t even almost believe it.”
The Polygraph Results
Dr. Phil explains that John agreed to take a polygraph test, which was administered by polygraph expert Jack Trimarco. The first question was, “After age 25, did you ever have sexual contact with a minor?” The second question was, “After age 25, did you ever have sexual contact with a male?”
An Expert Weighs In
Dr. Phil introduces Robert Leazenby, Special Agent and Supervisor for the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, who has been working with the FBI on investigations into people processing and sharing child pornography. “This being an open investigation, I can’t comment on this particular case,” he says. He explains that in these types of cases, generally, authorities look at a number of factors, including the number of images involved and how many times they were accessed.
Special Agent Leazenby also says that in his 11 years of experience, he has only seen one circumstance when someone genuinely accidentally downloaded child porn. He says that if that were to happen, the person should delete the file and contact law enforcement, so they can try to find the source of the material.
“I’m going to suggest that you let me arrange for you to have some professional counseling with someone who is skilled at helping you understand what’s going on with you sexually,” Dr. Phil says to John.
He turns to Danielle and says, “I think that until he does that, you can’t really know where you are.” He continues, “Right now, I’m not really interested in putting either one of you into a couple’s therapy. I’m going to recommend that each of you has an opportunity to get your bearings, emotionally, before any decisions are made.”
John and Danielle both agree and accept the help.