SO the other day I was talking to a friend of mine.  She’s someone I knew in high school and someone I consider a good friend.  Only, we did not become close until years after high school.  What prompted our connection during our adult years, was none other than Facebook.  I have little doubt that many of those who read can relate in some way because Facebook has likely opened doors for many people who have lost touch to reunite, and/or for many who might not have been friends at a certain time to realize that they have commonalities that could cause them to connect.

Over the years I have reached out to many people I have lost touch with and I am forever grateful to Facebook, for being there to serve as a means to allow me to find people that ended up being so very important in my life.  Most of the connections I have had have turned out well.  Childhood friends, former co-workers, and even those whom I’ve never met, but who have heard me on the radio or follow me on social media, are now members of my Facebook family.

The purpose of this post is not to talk about Facebook (or social media) connections per se, but the story I am about to share originated on Facebook.  It does not end well, though.  It’s not my story, but my friend’s story.  With her permission, I am going to share it because what happened left her shaking and trembling in a repulsive and somewhat shocked state of mind.  After she shared what happened, I wondered about how we can tend to have a false sense of security with those we used to know.  Those who might have gone to the same school, grown up in the same town…

She met him a few months ago.  He’s someone who went to the same high school where we went.  There’s little doubt we would have gone out with him back then, because he’s a few years younger than we are, and back then a few years mattered more.  When my friend share his name and asked me if I knew him, I told her I did not think so.  The two month romance was going well she said.  In fact just this morning, had we talked then she would have told me that things were great, and she was dating someone and things looked promising.  Only things had changed in a day, because during the afternoon she found our her new guy was a pedophile.

As my friend proceeded to tell me about the circumstances surrounding how she came to find out, and what he had been not only accused but convicted of, she shared the legal report about an appeal the guy had filed.  I thought that perhaps there was a mistake and maybe the guy was mistaken about a woman’s age and asked out a young lady who was posing as an adult.  Surely that could happen, right?  For whatever reason, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I thought …

Only as I continued to read the appeal, all about how the NYPD had entrapped him into crossing state lines to have sex with an underage girl, it became more apparent that things looked as though this guy was someone to stay away from.  In fact, I asked my friend why was he not in jail, only to find out that he had been.  He had been given the maximum sentence, but was out now.  Why did my friend not know?  How did she find out about the charges and conviction?

When I asked her, she told me that she had posted a photo of the two of them taken in New York City just the other day.  Another woman, we had gone to high school with, happened to see their photo and immediately sent a message to my friend.  “I saw the photo you posted and thought you should know…,” was what she told my friend.  My friend’s new found love interest, went from potential to dreadful in a matter of moments.  She texted the guy and demanded that he never contact her again, and included a copy of the file from with her text.

As I read the legal background about this guy, I thought about how trusting we all can be.   Trust is so key in any relationship, and when you lose it, it’s hard to ever get it back.  Surely none of us are perfect, and sometimes we have run-ins with the law.  Should you judge a person based on their criminal background?

When I was nineteen, I was buying a pair of jeans and wrote a check that bounced.  When I tried to make restitution to the store, I was told by the manager that I waited too long, and that their company policy was to press charges.  It was a tough lesson to learn, and I ended up actually being arrested by an over-zealous police officer.  Should I share this with someone if I am dating them?  What if a guy I decided to date did a criminal background check on me, and decided I was not worth getting to know because of a mistake I made when I was nineteen?

Why did this guy not tell my friend that he had been arrested?  Well, more than likely if he had been honest, she would have run clear in the opposite direction.  Some crimes are not as simple as writing a bad check.

I asked my friend if she would mind if I shared about her story, if for no other reason that the caution folks that just because you knew someone when you were kids does not mean they are safer than any other person you just meet.  Be mindful, use caution, and pay attention to those red flags.  If you feel you want to do a background check, or use a dating service that does those checks for you, do it.

I am not a big fan of the way our right to privacy has eroded.  I like the idea of getting to know someone gradually and sharing only what you want to share.  On the flip side though, I think it’s only fair to share something that’s truly a potential deal-breaker in an up-front manner.  It just seems like the right thing to do.

Thankfully, for my friend she was able to get out of this dating situation relatively unscathed.  It’s not like she’d been intimate with him, and she had not called in love.   When I asked her if she would have dated him, if he’d been honest with her and told her about the charges and conviction, she said, “I honestly do not know, but I probably would not have gone out with him.”  I think, that she had a right to know.  Maybe that ought to be something that is required by law, full disclosure for serious crimes like that.