Molester struggles to make peace with himself

By Anita Dubey (Reprinted from the London Free Press

John Evans pulls the documents of his troubled life out of envelopes, pointing to psychiatric reports to explain the tragedy and pain. He doesn't look like a monster. But Evans, a thin, wiry man with glasses, has committed some of the worst crimes imaginable -- sexual crimes against children. Tormented by the harm he inflicted and experienced, he's still struggling to make peace with himself. His childhood was a nightmare of sexual, emotional and physical abuse, and his adult life has been marked by stints in jail and psychiatric atric hospitals. His formal education ended at Grade 8, and he never held a job more than two years. Unable to find the help -- or the love -- he wanted, Evans began sexually abusing children himself. It began When he was seven years old, lasted into his 30s, and ended after his third jail term for sexual assault in 1986.

As he talks, his face twitches from years of taking anti-psychotic drugs. Evans, 48, can recall being sexually abused when he was five years 'old by his father, and throughout his teen years by two acquaintances , He didn't think it was wrong at the time.

When I was being sexually abused as a kid, it felt good." - The way a baby enjoys having its back rubbed, he says, he felt he was getting affection and attention missing in his family life. Both his parents were alcoholics and either neglected him or harmed him emotionally and physically.

PLACED IN THE CARE of Children's Aid Society when he was 10, Evans lived in a children's home for more than a year in an attempt to calm his difficult behavior. But then, CAS returned him to his abusive parents -- a move he doesn't understand to this day. Soon after, his father was committed to London Psychiatric Hospital after sexually assaulting a girl. A few months later, his mother gave up on him and he became a ward of the court. Sent to live at the Cobourg training school and work on farms by the department of reform institutions, an acquaintance continued to sexually abuse him. At the time, Evans was also having sexual encounters with other residents and was removed from three farms for fondling farmers' children.

His first cry for help came when he was 16. In a call to police, he confessed to sexually abusing a girl. He was taken to the London Psychiatric Hospital- the first of many visits --, but spent the next few years on the street, abusing alcohol to cloud his life, working at odd jobs to survive. Then, he turned from society's troublemaker into society's monster. He would abuse children of friends or acquaintances, usually between nine and 13 years old. The incidents were triggered by feelings of loneliness and his need for affection. "Who can you get love from better than a kid?" Evans his eyes looking down ......... "It was the only way I got any affection, any love." But he never felt better after the abuse, never considered his victims'feelings, and always had a vague idea he was doing wrong "if you never experienced love as a child, how can you give it appropriately." he asks.

Evans was first charged in 1973 after molesting the nine-year-old daughter of a friend. Convicted of indecent assault, he was sentenced to four years in Kingston Penitentiary. He received treatment as a sex offender and was released almost three years later, considered a nuisance rather than a serious threat by prison officials.

Through the years, he was given an assortment of drugs. Medicating the problem may have controlled his behavior, but it didn't get to its causes, he says. He eventually developed a condition called tardive dyskinesia, which causes the uncontrollable spasms he has today. And he continued to offend, with two more convictions and jail terms. After his release from the Millbrook correctional center eight years ago, he tried to get help on his own. "It was like banging my head against a brick wall," he says. "Everybody said there was basically no hope for me. "They didn't know a hell of a lot about male perpetrators. They looked at us as monsters." Evans eventually found a program for male sex offenders run by the Children's Aid Society in London. He took it three times. "I learned about why I do things and the human cost of doing things like this," he says. This became a turning point in his behavior and idled his instinct to seek out children.

I know I won't reoffend because of the amount of therapy received," he says. "I'm aware of the scars that I've left on people because I've experienced it myself." Evans believes that pedophiles with his background can change their behavior through counseling and understanding the abuse cycle, but only with great commitment on the part of the offender. The pain of the abuse he's felt, he says, can never be cured. Looking back, Evans feels the system let him and other victims down, beginning with the CAS for not protecting him from his parents, and later with ineffecttive therapy programs and his lenient jail sentences -- just 18 months for his second offence and 15 months for the third. "That's' sickening," he says. "When I stop and think about some of the things my victims are going through, that's sickening."!

In recent years, he's tried to make peace with his family, especially after his mother died of cancer in late July. Since then, he has talked with his sister, who has had psychiatric problems of her own, but his brother is not interested. "My credibility has been destroyed because of my past," he says. His father died in 1988.

Today, Evans lives alone on disability pay, and has a few close friends. He's still looking for therapy programs, attends a self-help group for alcoholics, and has been seeing a psychiatrist.

"The only thing that keeps me going is that I want to be part of breaking the silence, breaking the cycle."