What happens when you discover your partner has a secret life?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Rochelle Rees was 14 when she got into political activism and met Rob Gilchrist, an older activist. They were friends until eventually starting a relationship when she was 21.

Rob seemed committed to many causes – from animal rights, to peace, to the environment – and was well-respected amongst the activist communities.

So when Rochelle stumbled across information that suggested her partner was spying on her, and others, for the New Zealand Police, she was shocked.

But rather than confront him, the computer programmer put her emotions aside and used her IT skills to beat him at his own game.

“I tried to just carry on pretty well as normal. At one point I suggested he and his daughter go out shopping so I could search the house,” she tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie.

Rachel Carling-Jenkins is a state MP in Victoria with Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives. When her husband started acting oddly she searched his computer while he was at work. But Rachel was in no way prepared for what she and her teenage son found. The explicit images and videos of children being sexually abused remain imprinted on her mind more than two years on.

“I went into hysterics to be honest. I just did not, I did not understand, this did not gel with the man I had married. This was just beyond my comprehension, beyond anything I had ever anticipated viewing and I was quite hysterical.”

But almost as shocking for Rachel have been the reactions of some of Gary's family and friends after she reported his online activity to police and cut all contact with her husband of 10 years.

Nijole Lucinskaite has been accused of being too supportive when her partner of eight years was found to have viewed and distributed images of child sexual abuse.

Nijole had to share a house with her ex until she could organise alternative accommodation, and continued to return to help him wind up their business.

She also wanted to keep up communication to try to delve into what had happened. But eight years on she still struggles to make sense of it all.

Insight explores the stories of five women who speak about discovering their partners’ other lives, and how they dealt with that deception. | His Other Life, Tuesday, 8.30pm, SBS.

Credits

Presenter: Jenny Brockie 

Producer: Sarah Allely 

Producer: Roje Augstin 

 

Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE:  Welcome everyone, good to have you here. Rochelle, how did you meet your ex-partner, Rob? 

ROCHELLE: I was involved in an animal rights group in Auckland when I was about thirteen and he had already been around in the animal rights movement in New Zealand for a good couple of years by then.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How old were you when you got involved with him? 

ROCHELLE: I was 21. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what was the relationship like, how would you describe it? 

ROCHELLE:  It seemed pretty normal. We moved in together. You know, we used to do everyday things together.

JENNY BROCKIE:  He had a daughter? 

ROCHELLE:  Yeah, his daughter lived with us one week in every two so yeah, she was around a lot. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you're a computer programmer? 

ROCHELLE: Mmm. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you lived with Rob in Christchurch for nearly a year? 

ROCHELLE: Mmm. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  But then you moved back to Auckland which was where you'd come from for work and you commuted to his place on weekends. He asked you to fix his computer one weekend. What happened when you did? 

ROCHELLE:  Um, so I transferred his emails from one software program into another and then when I was done, I just went to check that there was nothing corrupted and I found a whole lot of emails that appeared to be blank.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you think they were? 

ROCHELLE: Well I just thought the data was corrupt so that's why I opened, started opening them, and I found, you know, one of them was some email from a list of environmental activists and it had been forwarded to this particular email address and then there was another one from an anti-war group, and there was another one that was from an animal rights group.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react to that initially? What did you think was going on? 

ROCHELLE:   I just had a bit of a sinking feeling.  I felt like there was something going on and I started to wonder if he was working for somebody. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you confront him straight away, did you ask him what was going on? 

ROCHELLE: I didn't. So the first thing I did was I called my friend at work and I asked her to come over after work.  So she came over and we looked through more of the emails and we found what appeared to be intelligence documents where he'd been writing up lots of stuff about myself and my friends and other activists.  And I didn't confront Rob because we didn't have any evidence about who he was working for at that point and I was quite aware that if I confronted him that we would probably lose any opportunity to find out the truth or to get to the bottom of what was going on. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you thought he was spying on you by this stage? 

ROCHELLE: By this stage I did, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How long had you been in a relationship with him?

ROCHELLE:   Just over a year.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You decided to try to get more evidence. How did you try to do that? 

ROCHELLE:   I wrote a script on a computer program. So I wrote a script and put it on his computer that every time he sent an email it would be uploaded to a server and I put some software on his phone so that every time he sent a message or made a phone call, the call data, so the contents of the text messages, who he called and for how long, would also get uploaded to a server and I could watch what was happening. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And during this time you were also being assisted by a journalist? 

ROCHELLE: Yeah. So I had contacted an investigative journalist Nicky Hager who Rob and I had both known for a really long time as well.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Quite strategic reaction though, you weren't temped to just, you know, explode and say what the hell is this, what are you doing? 

ROCHELLE: I was definitely tempted, yeah, but yeah, once again I was concerned that if I did, so that would be it. You know, we wouldn't find out anything else. We would never prove who it was he was working for.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You wanted to know the details of exactly what was going on? 

ROCHELLE: Yeah, because there was all of the personal stuff for me where for sure I wanted to yell at him, but then there was, I guess, the wider issues of who he was spying for and why and how far it had gone and what impact that was having on political campaigners in New Zealand. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Donna Anderson, thanks for joining us from Philadelphia.  You met your Australian ex-husband, James Alwin Montgomery, on-line about twenty years ago. Can you read out for us how he described himself in his personal ad? 

DONNA: Sure, it was very exciting. "This morning, ready to move on really. Deeply involved in the development of Atlantic City of 2000.  Late 40s, Sean Connery look alike, 6 foot 2.  From Hollywood film and TV scene as a writer producer. Now into entertainment biz in the greatest city in the USA. Emotionally and financially secure.  Ex-Green Beret.  No drugs, don't even drink. Daughter grown up. Hold several advanced degrees but I baby talk to my dog. No hobbies, just threw myself into work. Time to change all that, the grieving is complete. Life together must be a two way street. Make mine a happier journey and I guarantee you will not feel any of the potholes along that highway. I am a hopeless romantic and experienced and regular lover. Very few hang-ups but not into one night stands. If you fit the above, please email me.  The standards are high, mine has always been but the rewards match." Sounded great. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did he sound like the guy for you? 

DONNA: Well he sounded like an entrepreneur and I was a business woman in Atlantic City, I owned my own copy writing business, I was forty years old and he just sounded like someone with a lot of magnetism, with a lot of entrepreneurial spirit and he just sounded like an exciting guy. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you met up in Atlantic City. When did you decide to get married? 

DONNA: Well, he actually proposed to me about a week after we met originally. Now we did correspond for, about a month, and then, then he proposed and I thought my time had come. I was forty years old and hadn't been married and I thought this was the reason I'd been waiting all this time.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now he brought you to Australia to marry a few months later. Why did you get married in Australia? 

DONNA: Well, we met in July and originally our wedding date was going to be the following year. We figured six months, that would be a good amount of time. But then what he told me was that he, um, had been in the military, that he had won a medal that was the Victoria Cross which is the highest military honour in Australia.  He had told me all this and he had told me that he was still actually working for the CIA and for Special Forces in the US.

So what he told me was that, um, Australia was about to change the rules for spouses of military members and that if you weren't an Australian citizen you would no longer be able to collect a military pension if something happened to him. So this change was supposedly going to go into effect by the end of the year and so he wanted me to, make sure that I was taken care of so we should hurry up and get married and so I said well, how are we going to do this?  He said well, if we go to Australia, we can go to the Registry office and get married. So I thought he was looking out for me but essentially what he was doing was trying to get his hooks into me before I escaped. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You met his family here? 

DONNA: Yes, I did. I met his mother who was just a very sweet little old lady, reminded me of my grandmother, I met his sisters, I met his brother, I met some of his friends.  So yes, I met plenty of people in Australia. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And when did James start asking you for money? 

DONNA: He actually started asking me for money before we even got married and he never asked me for money for himself. It was always for our future together. At this point he was operating, or planning three different businesses in Atlantic City. There was the theme park that he was talking about building on the boardwalk. There was also a television station that he was starting and there was also a factory, and the way he explained it that each of the businesses would support each other so it all sounded like a really comprehensive plan.  And so he asked me for a little bit of money to start out first and it seemed like an okay idea and so that's how it started. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And after two and a half years how much do you say that you'd given him? 

DONNA: When I finally filed for divorce I claimed that he took $227,000 from me and left me with $60,000 worth of debt. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  When did alarm bells start ringing for you? 

DONNA: Well, I was really worried about the money. I wasn't the type of person who was used to spending that kind of money but every time that I would bring something up and try to talk to him about it, essentially what he would do was either blame me for being paranoid and not trusting in him, or he would just say that, you know, it doesn't matter. I remember one particular time when, um, I think I had about almost $50,000 worth of debt and I got upset and I said you know, what are we going to do about this debt? And he said well, why are you complaining?  It was $50,000 in debt yesterday, we're $50,000 in debt today, what difference does it make?  And that was his attitude. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you were putting together an exhibition in Florida I think, is that right? 

DONNA: Yes. This all happened back, I met him in 1996 and then by the end of 1997 that was when the Titanic movie came out and, he met up with a local businessman and they decided to build a Titanic exhibition together. The plan actually looked like it was going to work because the other businessman was very well known in the area and he found some people to invest in the show and so he told me that he had a deal to do this show with, down in Florida, and so we had to pack up and move from where I lived in New Jersey down to Florida, which is a thousand miles away, and so he said, you know, we've got this deal, we're going to open the show so we moved to Florida. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you discover what was really going on? 

DONNA:  What happened was we were down in Orlando, Florida and so I called over to the venue where we were supposed to put this show and the person who answered the phone was like oh, gosh, I haven't heard about that in a long time?  Like what are you talking about, we're doing this show? And I came to realise that he never had a deal.  So by this point I was pretty frantic because I had put all my money into this, I was highly in debt, and so what happened was, um, he told me that he had an opportunity to sell all the artefacts that we had collected, all the Titanic artefacts. 

And what that meant was that he was going to be flying from Florida back to our home in Atlantic City and I got like the last $200 on my credit cards to buy a ticket for him to fly to, back to Atlantic City, and on the way to the airport we had an argument and I had asked him where some rings of mine were because by this point I was so broke that I was seriously considering taking the rings to a pawn shop to get money to buy groceries. And so he told me these rings were in a locked box. 

I dropped him off and he kind of slammed the trunk, took his suitcase, slammed the trunk and left.  I was glad to see him go. So I went back to our apartment and I went into his office and started looking around for a lock box and I found it, and inside the box I found pictures of him with a baby. This was not my baby. I found a birth certificate indicating that he had had this child, it was conceived and born during our marriage, this child with another woman. Then I found all these receipts indicating that his new computer that he had gotten not too long before that had been bought by another woman and so what I found essentially was all this evidence that he had been cheating on me and had a child with another woman, you know, while we were going on.

JENNY BROCKIE:  These guys are pretty brazen, right? I mean in your case, he says your things are in a locked box and presumably you're going to go to the lock box to get your jewellery.  And your partner knows you're a computer programmer and he asks you to fix his computer and it's got all this hidden stuff on it? 

ROCHELLE: Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you think they wanted to be caught? 

ROCHELLE: That's what I thought. I questioned that a lot but you know, the entire life that I lived with Rob, he had, I had the password to his computer, he'd leave it open.  I think he genuinely thought that there was nothing on his computer to find.  So I don't think he realised that when he sent emails they went into a sent folder.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Donna, did you confront him?

DONNA: No. Essentially, at this point, I was in Florida and he was back at my house in Atlantic City so I didn't know what he would do. So essentially I pretended that everything was fine because he called me up the way he always does and he says so how's everything? I said okay fine. So how are we, you know, a very loaded question and I said oh, we're just fine. But in the meantime I had started packing because I wanted to be on the road when I knew he was on the plane coming back.  So I didn't say a word to him in the beginning because I didn't want him to trash anything in my house and as soon as I knew that he was leaving, then I got on the road and left. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And when did you confront him about it? 

DONNA:  Well you have to understand the whole thing was a plan. When he told me where those rings were, he did want me to find those rings and the reason was because he was done with me. I never really did confront him directly and I never saw him again physically. I talked to him on the phone a few times but essentially a few months after I got home I filed for divorce. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how long was it before you got the full picture of your ex-husband? 

DONNA: Well, when I got home I started going through all his and I find evidence that this man was involved with different women during our and essentially these women were asking for their money back. So the mail came in and I find a phone bill for this secret voicemail account that I didn't know that he had and so I start looking at the numbers and I see one of the names of a woman who lived in Pennsylvania and this is the same woman who had bought his new computer. 

So one day I called her up and I said hello, my name is Donna Anderson, I'm James Montgomery's wife and I'd like to suggest that you don't give him any more money. She said it's too late, I already gave him $90,000.

JENNY BROCKIE:  I should point out we have tried several times to contact your ex-husband, James Alwin Montgomery, who is still in Australia but without success, we haven't been able to get in touch with him. What was it like for you when you realised the full extent of husband's life, what was that like for you? 

DONNA: Well essentially when I contacted this woman, that's when I realised that the whole thing was a financial scam. He had targeted me from the very beginning essentially to take my assets and the way he showered me with attention and affection, it was all just part of the plot and it was bad, I mean you know, I felt like a complete idiot. I felt like, I mean why did I fall for this stuff?  Why did I allow him to do this? So you know, when you get taken financially, nobody wants to be a chump and usually the victim comes down hardest on themselves. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rochelle, once you'd installed the spyware on your partner's phone and computer what did you discover about him? What was the extent of what you discovered? 

ROCHELLE: So he'd been, he'd been spying for about ten years and I'd known him at this point for about eight years, and…

JENNY BROCKIE:  Spying on who? 

ROCHELLE: Spying on all sorts of political activists in New Zealand, so people that were involved in anti-war campaigns, environmental campaigns, animal rights campaigns, even the Green Party, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And who was he working for? 

ROCHELLE: So he was working for the New Zealand police and he had been the entire time. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And was he being paid? 

ROCHELLE: Yeah, he was being paid. So we could show that it was the New Zealand police from a couple of documents that had been sent to him from his handler and in the metadata on those web documents that had the police badge number, and also the author being the New Zealand police, and he had these two uncles on his phone contact list who I'd never met. Uncle John and an Uncle Pete and it turned out that they were his handlers. And then we got proof of payment because of the spyware on his phone.  He was getting text message alerts from his bank whenever there was a deposit and his handler, who was a senior sergeant, I think Peter Gilroy was going literally to the bank every week to deposit cash into his bank account. But those text message alerts from the deposits from the bank corresponded with his handler text messaging him to say I've put money in your account. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was it like for you finding all that out? 

ROCHELLE:  It was really hard personally but it was also really hard as an activist. It just opened up this whole other can of worms, going is he the only one? Are there more like him? 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rachel, you're a state MP in Victoria with Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives. How did you meet your ex? 

RACHEL: I met Gary on-line on a Christian cafe site. I was in my late 20s, I was a single mum with a little boy and I was looking for the next stage in my life. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how long before you got together? 

RACHEL: We corresponded for a few months. I was living in Queensland at the time and we met in Melbourne when I came for a conference and we really clicked, we dated for about six months and then we were engaged for six months and got married. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What attracted you to Gary? 

RACHEL: He was very gentle, he was a Christian, I was looking for a Christian man, everything that I was looking for in a man, Gary came across with those qualities. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How would you describe your ten year marriage? 

RACHEL:  I think it was fairly normal for most of the marriage, particularly at the beginning. We attempted to have children, we weren't able to so we worked through those kinds of issues as a couple. We built a house together. I felt we were building a life together. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were there any hints of any problems?  Looking back now, did you get a sense of anything being troubled in the relationship? 

RACHEL: Sure, I think the benefit of hindsight always makes us look critically at our past and our relationship and I probably overlooked, well I did, I overlooked a number of things. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Like what? 

RACHEL: I realise now that I was being played. He told me exactly what I wanted to hear. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Now one day two years ago with some of this rolling around in your mind, you excused yourself from a parliamentary hearing in Victoria and you went home. What did you do once you got home? 

RACHEL: I had a gut feeling that weekend that something was wrong. I went home and while he was at work and started to look at his computer.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you think you might find? 

RACHEL: I thought I might find pornography and I was always completely against that and it's something I said right from the beginning, before I marry Gary, that pornography was a no go zone for me.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what did you find? 

RACHEL: Well it was certainly a lot worse than I anticipated. I actually found many, many images of child pornography, of child abuse material. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you saw some icons and you clicked on those icons? 

RACHEL: I did, I saw a number of icons on the screen and I could see small images.  So some were photos, some were videos and I started to click on them to see what it was and they were all of children and all of little girls. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And these were quite severe images as well, weren't they? 

RACHEL:  They were. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  In terms of the categorisation of these images? 

RACHEL: Absolutely, absolutely, I saw child rape. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And your son was with you when you went home? 

RACHEL: Yes, he was. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How old was your son at that stage? 

RACHEL: He was just on 18. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And did he see those images as well? 

RACHEL: Yes he did. He'd helped me to break into the computer, I'm not as tech savvy as you are Rochelle so I needed a little bit of help with passwords, et cetera. As soon as I saw what I was I can remember snatching that laptop away and just shielding him from it. But obviously he, he did see some. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react when you saw, how did you react when you saw that? 

RACHEL: I, I went into hysterics to be honest. I just did not, I did not understand, this did not gel with the man I had married. This was just beyond my comprehension, beyond anything I had ever anticipated viewing.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You contacted the police. What did they tell you to do? 

RACHEL: They asked me to maintain my silence for a little while so that they could have investigate and arrest him without him knowing that they were watching him. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you had to pretend nothing was wrong for a few days? 

RACHEL: For a few weeks. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You weren't in the house, where did you tell him you'd gone?  

RACHEL:  I actually told him I had to go see my mum, that she was sick.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you actually went to a hotel? 

RACHEL: I went to a motel in Melbourne. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what was it like for you being alone in that motel during that time? 

RACHEL: I cried a lot. I just tried to work through what had happened and I didn't have any answers.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How long were you there for before you could actually make it known that you knew what was going on? 

RACHEL: I was there for the weekend and Gary was arrested I believe on the Monday morning. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nijole, you'd been with your partner for eight years when he arrived home with plain clothes police in tow. How did he explain what was happening when he came in with the police? 

NIJOLE:  Well, I was there with his daughter from California and our little grandson so it was quite a surprise to see Al come through with the two young investigators and I said, What is this? What's happened? And he very succinctly said: "I'm being charged with under age on-line activities." 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what was it like hearing that? 

NIJOLE:  It was really dumbfounding.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you have any inkling of this at all? 

NIJOLE:  No, no, not at all. He was a very approachable, gentle, generous sort of a man.

JENNY BROCKIE:  The police searched his studio and your home?  

NIJOLE:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did they find?

NIJOLE:   Well, after eighteen months of investigation they'd found something like 26,000 images.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And he'd not only collected these images, he'd distributed them as well. 

NIJOLE: That was the crime, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And these covered all categories of child abuse images, including the most serious category, I understand. 

NIJOLE:   Look, you know, I didn't go to Court. I had to rely on what Al told me he did but somewhere something happened, I don't know whether it was the media release of his sentence that sort of spelt that out a little bit more, but that's how I heard of it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react to what the police found and to this whole thing? 

NIJOLE:  It took a long time for the investigations to be completed and during that time I had lost my short term memory and had to function in a workplace to pay my rent. Like it was, Jenny, it was just devastating.  Every day in different ways it would present itself.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did your partner react being caught with all those child abuse images? What did he say to you? 

NIJOLE:  He had a knee jerk reaction first of all and he said something like:  "This is the end of it for me", or something along those lines. Like this is going to muck up his world now.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did he explain it to you? What did he say to you as his partner?

NIJOLE:   Well, he talked more to his daughter at that time because I was a bit flummoxed and his daughter was asking him questions of course about the safety of her son that was there. He was talking to both of us and he said, you know, it was only like pictures, it wasn't a contact offence. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you react when he said that? 

NIJOLE:  Jenny, I think I was just very stunned. I don't know whether I reacted much. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You were probably in shock? 

NIJOLE:  Except for crying for days and days on end. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   What do you make of the relationship now? 

NIJOLE:   Very sad one. I did love him. I feel he loved me. As much as I can on my better days, I feel that, and on other days I feel that I've just been used. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How, how do you feel you've been used? 

NIJOLE:   Well firstly, I mean this sounds very selfish to say but taking me through this terrible ordeal to start with, myself, my family and our close friends. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  I don't think that sounds selfish as all. 

NIJOLE:  Well you know, if I get angry about anything it's that.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You said you felt like you'd been used as a foil? 

NIJOLE:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Can you just explain that a little bit more? 

NIJOLE:   You think it's, um, people, women who don't know where they are or who they are, but I think a lot of us are very intelligent and have great sense of community and in the community and are seen as community people, good friends. And I think that helps someone to do something underground.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And with the benefit of hindsight and given the enormity of these offences that you two, in particular, have had to deal with, when you look back, can you see signs of this at all?

NIJOLE:  We got married in our 50's and this happened in the mid 60's, and it's a tendency that you just don't pick up overnight, what I understand of it. And he would have been hiding his tendencies for a long time and frankly, he was extremely good at it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Once the enormity of his offences had sunk in, what did you do with your life? 

NIJOLE:  Three weeks after he was arrested he was, registered to live in the house, which had no communication with me about that at all and so I, with the help of my very close friends, found somewhere else to live and I had to find full time work and you know, I just wasn't functioning at all and thank God for the people I worked for that took me on in that sort of state.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you had a business that you had to wind up? 

NIJOLE:  We had a business together, yes.  It was a bit complex there because he had some young female friends that he was working with, still working with him, and I was doing the books and he was suggesting well, perhaps I, should show the other girl, one of the girls the books because I didn't want to have anything to do with it. He said that he had spoken to her so she knew what, what the issue was. I couldn't believe that but also then I couldn't just throw over the bookkeeping to her with the knowledge that if she didn't know about it, one day she will know about it and I as a woman didn't support her in it.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you were doing a lot of things with him still? 

NIJOLE:   Yes, but also Jenny, I needed to know what it was that he was doing. I had to do that, to be able to be in his company and question in different ways than what we had before so that I could find…

JENNY BROCKIE: So you were still trying to find out what on earth had happened? 

NIJOLE:  Yes, that's right.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How had this happened? 

NIJOLE:   That's right. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rachel, what about your partner, did he apologise to you for what had happened? 

RACHEL: I cut off contact to be honest. I didn't, I wasn't interested in speaking to him after that. He phoned me on the day he was arrested and even then when he said I've got something to tell you, I just said I know and I'm not coming home.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what about other people, family and friends, how did they respond to what had happened? 

RACHEL: Not very well. I, um, was very close to his family and had moved from Queensland away from my family to Melbourne and I haven't had a lot of contact with them that's been civil since. And  friends…

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did they respond to the fact that you'd reported him? 

RACHEL: They were not very happy about that at all. There was a real sense amongst family and friends that I should have stayed, that a wife stays, that I should have tried to help him through this because it must have been a difficult time for him. I just wanted to say it's a lot worse time for those little girls and there were a lot of excuses made.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what was that like for you? 

RACHEL: That was very disappointing.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nijole, what sort of response did you get from other people? 

NIJOLE:  A few of the people that I met in the street asked me if I knew and I said no and they said how could you not? And, and I guess they thought I may have been an accomplice and of course I never saw them again. I also didn't want to be facing people for a number of reasons. I felt very guilty that I didn't know, felt…

JENNY BROCKIE: Why did you feel guilty? 

NIJOLE:   Well, because I should have known, shouldn't I? 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Well, not necessarily. 

RACHEL: No. 

NIJOLE:  But that's the thing, you know, that's the thing. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  But you didn't do this? 

NIJOLE:   I know, I know, but there is this guilt that I as a mother should have known. So I let, I felt like I let down the whole side of motherhood. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Wow, that's a huge thing to put on yourself. 

NIJOLE:   That's right.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Natalie, you've set up a group to support women like this who find themselves in a situation where, you know, they're the partners or the families of people who've been found to have these child abuse images. Tell us a little bit about why you set up that group? 

NATALIE:   Because when Rachel went to a hotel room on her own, who could she call? Who could she tell?  Because people were stopping Nijole in the street and saying how did you not know? No one contacted Gary or Al and said why did you do it? But all the pressure and attention on Rachel and Nijole, are you sure you didn't know? Why didn't you stay

JENNY BROCKIE:  And there are a lot of these sort of offences, aren't there, and the ripple effects are huge on the people around these people? 

NATALIE:   Absolutely, and I think a lot of people, when they hear about the non-offending partners and children of someone who perpetrates on-line child because they think it's exceptional, it doesn't happen very often, but actually the offence is escalating quite significantly and most of the offenders, the most common typical offender is married with children.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rochelle, what about your friends and your fellow activists, how did they react to the fact your partner was a police spy? 

ROCHELLE: They were all really, really angry and upset.  There are a lot of us that had known Rob for a really, really long time and it was really difficult for everybody to come to terms with.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You spent six weeks gathering evidence your partner was a spy, was spying for the police. Once you had all that evidence, you got that evidence together with a journalist, at what point did you actually confront him, your partner, with what you knew? 

ROCHELLE: So I wanted to confront Rob but we made the decision that it would actually be better for the journalist to confront him. We felt like there was more of a chance that he would actually talk to the journalist who he'd had a relationship with. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did the journalist say to him and how did he react? 

ROCHELLE: So the journalist said, flew down to Christchurch where Rob was living and asked him to meet up for a coffee and Nicky, the journalist, had a bunch of papers with him and just said to him that he knew. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did he respond? 

ROCHELLE:  So he admitted it, yeah, he admitted it pretty much straight away. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And when did you talk to him about it? 

ROCHELLE:   He didn't call me straight away. I was monitoring his phone logs so I saw the first thing that he did was go and call his handler and spend about an hour on the phone to his handler. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You two look quite impressed with this spying business. 

NIJOLE:  Oh, I'm going to take lessons.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  I don't know that that's the message we want to give out. To come out of this program. 

ROCHELLE:  …sometimes, you know, jokingly I'm not going to leave my phone out while you're here. I do think that one thing, you know, when I look at your experiences and how they differ from mine, I think one thing for me was a feeling of being able to actually take back some control. So you know, for me there was all this deceit for such a long time and by doing what I did, even though it was really hard, I was actually taking back a lot of control over that situation.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Sunenna, what was your husband like when you got married? 

SUNENNA:  My husband was a charmer.  When I saw him first I thought I met my dream guy. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Where did you meet him? 

SUNENNA:  I met him through one of my girlfriend who used to be living in Queensland next door to him and they became friends and she told all positive things about her friend and I thought yeah, he sounds someone really interesting.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you clicked. What did you know about him in terms of his job and that kind of thing? 

SUNENNA:  She said she's investor, invest in share market, and he has few houses and he's a very loyal guy and very honest person. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Mala, you're Sunenna's sister, what did you make of her husband? 

MALA:  Well, initially when I met him I thought he was good catch for my sister.  He was caring, he was charming, but later on I find out what he was like, his true colour. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you find out?  

MALA:  Well, after speaking to my sister, I could tell she was not well, something is bothering her. So eventually she told me about him, what's happening. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did she tell you? 

MALA:  She told me she thinks he's gambling and there's never enough money in the house, there's always some excuses he's making. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What sort of things was your husband doing to get money from you? 

SUNENNA:  He took all my jewellery and pawned it and one day my daughter and I were just going past that pawn shop and I don't know, something just pulled me towards it and I saw my jewellery sitting there.  And also he forged my signature. I had term deposit and he forged my signature and went to the bank and told them my mother has passed away in Canada and I needed the money to go to her funeral. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  At one stage you'd left him and he convinced you to go back.  Why did you go back? 

SUNENNA:  He convinced me that I'm a changed man and please come back to me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what happened when you went back?  

SUNENNA:  It was worse because he was a liar. Before I went back he said I have very good job and I will support you and when I went back he didn't have job and…

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you find out about him over the next few years? 

SUNENNA:  He was, he borrowed so much money from his friends that they didn't know that he was gambling, he did work but all his money was going towards gambling, he couldn't stop gambling. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did he react when you confronted him about it? 

SUNENNA:  He would just cry. He said don't believe people, who are you talking to? I'm not gambling. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So he denied it? 

SUNENNA:  He always denied it, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:  After you'd left your husband, he somehow managed to get into your house one day when you were out. What happened when you came home? 

SUNENNA:  This particular day I took my children to school, after I came back and I went inside the laundry that's when I saw him running toward me with a knife. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what happened? 

SUNENNA:  I was escaped for nearly three hours or so and I was just screaming and crying because before that he did write letters to my sisters and family telling them that he will kill me.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you get out of that situation in the end? 

SUNENNA:   After a while, then he said to me oh, I'm not going to kill you. Why don't we go upstairs and have a cup of tea and don't tell anyone? 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And don't tell anyone. And what did you do? 

SUNENNA:  Then I quickly opened the garage door and then my next door neighbour was in front of her house and so I said yeah, she will call the police straight away, you better go so he went. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what happened to him? 

SUNENNA:  He went to gaol for six months.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And have had you contact with him since? 

SUNENNA:  No, no, nothing to do with him. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What do you make of your marriage after all of that? 

SUNENNA:  I don't know.  One thing is I'm here in Australia, my children have good future.  I'm a stronger person, yeah, I have become a very strong person.  Within that marriage I suffered quite a lot. I was emotionally and mentally, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How do you make sense of a relationship with a person that you love has kept such a hideous secret, Rachel? 

RACHEL: I'm not sure if you can make sense of it. I think the most important thing is to move forward and to move on and to ensure that you don't blame yourself because I feel I certainly was lied to. I feel that all of these stories are showing us that these people have lied to us, have deceived us. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you go over it much though in your mind? 

RACHEL: I, I went over it a lot more at the beginning. Two years on, less. I think it's going to be hard for me to ever trust another man again. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you? 

RACHEL: And I can't see that really in my future to be honest at this stage, two years later. The thing that I find the hardest now is the images of the children that I saw. So I will still be triggered when I'm in a shopping centre or walking down the street and I see a little girl with particular colour hair or a particular look on her face, that will trigger some of the images that I saw and that's something that I think will take a lot longer to work through. And at the same time, I will say in some ways I don't want to forget those faces. I don't want to stop having those triggers.  I want them to stop traumatising me perhaps as much as they do but it's now a fight for me. It's a fight to protect little girls like that that I saw.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nijole, after you moved out you kept in touch with your ex-partner. Why? 

NIJOLE:  To find out what he had done, just try to make some sense of it, I guess. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You also visited him in prison. 

NIJOLE:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was it like doing that, sitting opposite him in that situation? 

NIJOLE:  Oh terrible. But you know, one of the things that made me very angry and to say this probably sounds a bit trite but Al was sitting pretty in prison. His nature of mentoring and nurturing people around him, he developed a craft workshop for the prison, everyone in prison loved him. And he'd also realised a dream of his where he could make a musical instrument, a guitar, and he bloody well made it in prison.  And, and here was I, and I mean this sounds like I'm in victim mode but I mean the upshot was I'm still coping with what he had done. Family and friends were still trying to grapple with and cope with what he'd done and the term sitting pretty was apt. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rochelle, what did you make of your relationship with Rob? Did the relationship feel real or not? 

ROCHELLE: I'm not sure. I'm still to this day not really sure.  The bit for me that I find hard to move past is that this was all sanctioned by the state. You know, this was all driven by the New Zealand police.  They had been monitoring me for years and they would have known so much about me that they would have known I would not have consented to that relationship and yet, they stood by and they let it happen and they kept paying him and they did nothing to stop it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Donna, how did you make sense of your marriage after all that you discovered? 

DONNA:  I could say, listening to everybody else's stories, that we were all involved with the same type of person, and the way I coped with it is that I founded a website called lovefraud.com and I talk to people all the time who have been in situations like this.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And where has it left you? 

DONNA:  Well, I can say that recovery is possible. I've remarried, my husband and I recently celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary so it is possible to overcome this. It requires allowing yourself to go through the pain of it and in order to get to the other side.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nijole, has all this changed you as a person and the way that you view other people? 

NIJOLE:  During part of, I'm going to call it my recovery, I became very suspicious and critical. I would be searching the faces of little children with their dads. I would be looking for offence and that really coloured my world badly and, then I just had to remember the nice, the good men that are around me in my life and start referencing my world through who they were. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Through the good people? 

NIJOLE:  Through the good people.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Have you had any other relationships since you left your partner? 

NIJOLE:  No.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Would you like to have another relationship? 

NIJOLE:  Yeah, I would, um, I would, you know, I live on my own. I love the company, I think I've got a lot to offer. I'd like to have a go with someone who's just really there for me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Where has all this left you financially? 

NIJOLE:   Not in a good position. I rent, I rent, I work five days a week. My work prospects are going to be changing in about six months time, which is a bit scary. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what will that mean for you? I mean how does the future look for you? 

NIJOLE:   I don't know.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rachel, where has your partner's crime left you financially? 

RACHEL: Quite devastated actually. I've gone from owning my own house with no mortgage to renting. So that's, I understand it's quite a transition to do that and my job prospects may be quite dim in November this year, so… 

JENNY BROCKIE:  When you have an election? 

RACHEL: That's right, so you know, that will be up to the people.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Donna, what were the consequences for James, your ex-husband? 

DONNA: Well, when I sued for divorce I claimed all the money that was taken from me, which was $227,000, and I also wanted punitive damages for the fact that the marriage was a complete fraud, and the Judge actually awarded me everything that was taken from me, which was all that money  and he also awarded me a million dollars in punitive damages. Of that I collected a grand total of $517 so that's all that I ever got from him.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you submitted those claims during your divorce proceedings in the US, we've seen the documents from that case. The Court did find that he defrauded you, he didn't contest those claims in Court but he has reportedly denied them since. You've not seen anything other than that $500 of the money? 

DONNA: No, nothing. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How do you feel about him now?  

DONNA: I know what he is. I know that he targeted me. He took advantage of my vulnerability, of the fact that I was looking for a relationship and I know that this is the way he is and he's never going to change.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Rochelle, how has your experience affected you do you think as a person? 

ROCHELLE: Um, I think it's affected me a lot, I question my own judgment a lot. So I question whether I should be trusting people and so I keep a lot more of my emotional world private.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How do you approach relationships now? 

ROCHELLE: Um, well I'm, I've been seeing somebody for about the last year, he is pretty fantastic. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Good, I'm glad. 

ROCHELLE: But I definitely take it a bit slower. You know definitely more cautious, I have no doubts about his integrity whatsoever.  I feel like I have found somebody who I can trust completely but it's the emotional damage for me, reading that intelligence documents that Rob supplied to the police that went into, you know, really, really personal stuff...  I'm just very cautious about letting people get to know me and in that more deep way. Where when I was younger I was much freer, I was much more happy to just walk around and be 100 percent myself and not really worry about what other people were thinking or making of what was happening. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And does that caution extend to your current relationship? 

ROCHELLE: Yes, it does, and I try not to let it but it does. I'm just naturally much more closed and I have to consciously let myself open up a little bit. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Thank you all so much for joining us tonight and for sharing your stories with us, really appreciate it and that is all we have time for but if you have a similar story you'd like to share, head to our Facebook page. Thanks everybody, thank you. Thank you very.