Last week, Lovefraud readers brought two disturbing cases of abuse to my attention. The cases were disturbing because of the depraved actions of the perpetrators, and because most people would not suspect that they were predators at all.
The Lovefraud reader BloggerT7165 sent me a link to the case of Jessica Banks, a 65-year old woman from Moreno Valley, California, who was convicted in July of 13 counts of child abuse and two counts of sexual penetration by force and fear. Two weeks ago she was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
The Lovefraud reader Ox Drover alerted me to a recent program on ABC’s 20/20 called Handsome Devil: The man who spread HIV. It recounts the case of Philippe Padieu, age 53, who was convicted of intentionally infecting at lease six women with HIV. Padieu, was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
The victims in the Jessica Banks case were her five adopted daughters. The five girls—who are sisters—were abused in their biological family and placed in foster care with Banks in 2000. Banks legally adopted the girls in 2004. Shortly after that she took them out of public school. They started attending school at the Word of Life Apostolic Church, which was located in a Moreno Valley strip mall. Jessica Banks was the pastor of the church, which prosecutors described as a cult.
In 2005, one of the girls was found curled up on the sidewalk in front of another business near the church. She had a black eye. With that, the four girls, aged four to 11, were discovered. When authorities removed them from Banks’ custody—they were living in a hidden room in her garage, wearing long black dresses and two layers of diapers.
The girls were emaciated, with only moldy food to eat. Prosecutors said Banks kicked them daily and beat them with cords, sticks, high-heeled shoes, belts and extension cords. She also made them take sleeping pills. Two of the girls were sexually assaulted with paint sticks.
The girls said they attended séances at Banks’ church, which only had a handful of members. One of the girls sat there with a rope around her neck. Saying the girls made up the stories, Banks denied all charges of abuse. The jury didn’t buy it and convicted her.
During the sentencing hearing, Banks’ attorney argued for leniency, stating that the woman did not fit the profile of a typical sexual predator.
To read more about this horrible case, see Girls adopted by Jessica Banks
After her marriage fell apart, Diane Reeve from Dallas, Texas, decided to try Internet dating. She met Philippe Padieu, an exotic man who was born in France and worked as a network security analyst in Frisco, Texas. They shared an interest in martial arts, and Diane had a relationship with him for four and a half years.
Eventually, however, she learned that the Padieu was cheating on her. She went through his cell phone bill—she was paying for it—and contacted nine other women to alert them to Padieu’s infidelity.
A few months later, one of the women, “Susan Brown” (a pseudonym given her by 20/20) called Reeve back. She’d tested positive for HIV. When Diane Reeve herself was tested, not only was she HIV positive, she had AIDS.
Brown had called Padieu, told him about the HIV, and that she had reported him to the health department. Padieu wasn’t worried about the infection, but he was furious that he’d been named.
At this point the women took on a mission to warn the other women that Philippe Padieu was sleeping with. In fact, six women, who ranged in age from 40 to 60, formed both a support and investigative group. Padieu was bringing a parade of women into his home, knowing he was HIV positive. He had to be stopped.
To see how they did it, I recommend that you watch the 20/20 episode, which is available online at Handsome Devil: The man who spread HIV.
Padieu himself is interviewed at the end. Of course, he denied everything, and said one of the women infected him.
You can also read a 20/20 article about the case at: How women united to stop HIV-positive man.
Both of these cases are horrific and shocking, and thankfully, both perpetrators are going to be locked up probably until they die.
But look how long they were both out on the street harming innocent victims without attracting any attention. That’s because they weren’t typical perpetrators.
Jessica Banks was a 65-year-old grandmother and church pastor who abused her own adopted daughters.
Philippe Padieu was a 53-year-old computer guy who targeted middle-aged women.
Once again, appearances can be deceiving.