I don't know if you are the same but sometimes, in idle moments, I find myself using the internet to look back on things - places I went, football games or concerts I attended, people I knew. You go down rabbit holes with side tunnels that go this way and that.
Today I thought about a secondary school teacher who was once a colleague of mine. Let's call him Chris because that was his name. Chris was a dedicated and hard-working member of the Maths department. A bachelor, he lived a couple of miles from the school. He was not in a relationship and it seemed that he had simply dedicated himself to teaching. An Ipswich Town fan, Chris also supported the school's P.E. department by managing one of the boys' football teams.
In that regard, back in 1988 or 1989 he asked me if I would drive the school minibus down to Wembley Stadium in London so that his team could watch England Schoolboys play West Germany Schoolboys. It was a big ask but I said yes. Chris, who didn't possess a driving licence, sat beside me and we chatted intermittently all the way down to Wembley and back. He was an odd fish but I kind of liked the guy.
It was a year or so after that that Chris failed to return to school following the six week summer holidays. The story went like this. He had been at the coast in the seaside town of Skegness. He was spotted on the beach, near a children's paddling pool, surreptitiously taking pictures of children. He was challenged by members of the public and the police were called.
One thing led to another. The police searched Chris's terraced house in the north of Sheffield and there they found many photographs of children - mostly boys in different states of undress or nudity. They had been snapped over many years . It was said at the time that there were enough pictures to fill two or three plastic bin bags.
Chris ended up in court and was given a suspended prison sentence. There was never any suggestion that he had ever sexually abused any children. It was just the secret photos - hundreds of them. Looking but as far as anybody knows - never touching. Of course that does not excuse his paedophilia in any way though it seems that his lawyer and he himself attempted to play that card in court.
He never returned to the school. He was gone and almost forgotten. I knew that his parents lived down in Suffolk and I supposed that he had gone back there to begin a new life outside teaching.
In the intervening thirty+ years, it seems that his particular perversion continued. More photos of children were taken and of course with the advent of the internet he found another outlet for his paedophilia.
In this millennium, down in Suffolk, he has been in court for similar reasons. He was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order in 2005 and was banned from possessing camera equipment or a computer. Other offences were addressed in both 2011 and 2012 but on each occasion Chris managed to avoid jail - being given suspended sentences. Once he threatened to commit suicide if he was sent to prison where of course such men are treated very harshly by other inmates.
What made Chris a paedophile? I have no idea but I assume that forensic psychiatrists might be able to track back through time, past experience and family history to pinpoint the key drivers. The majority of paedophiles are most likely made and not born - that's what I think anyway.