I was having a spring clean when I cleared out my boyfriend’s wardrobe. I never expected to make such a grim discovery…
By Lorna-May Anslow, 19, from Portsmouth
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as my mobile phone pinged with another text message from my man.
‘Hello my princess! Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.’
I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. My boyfriend Joseph, 24, always knew how to make me feel special.
We met in May 2014, on Facebook, and immediately hit it off. We chatted for a while online and then decided to meet up.
For me, it was love at first sight. As well as being gorgeous, Joseph was warm, friendly and charming. He was a real gentleman and treated me like a queen. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Soon enough, we were in a serious relationship and just four months later, in September, I found out I was pregnant.
Although I knew I loved Joseph, it still was a huge shock. I had been feeling unwell for a few weeks, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be pregnant.
Joseph was stunned too. When I told him the news, his face went white with shock.
“What are we going to do?” he stammered, while my mind raced with all the possibilities.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t know if I’m ready to be a mother.”
We promised each other that we wouldn’t make any rash decisions, but each day that passed I found myself longing to meet the little life which was growing inside me.
A few weeks later I had an ectopic pregnancy scare, and had to have an early scan to determine if the baby was developing in my fallopian tube.
Luckily, the baby was fine and was right where it should be. But the fear of not knowing forced me to make up my mind once and for all.
“Now I know the baby is safe, I want to keep it,” I told Joseph. “But there’s no pressure on you. You can be as involved as you want to be.”
I braced myself for his response, but unexpectedly, a smile crept across his face.
“So we’re doing it then?” he asked brightly. “I’m going to be a dad?”
I was thrilled – although I would never have forced Joseph to stay with me, deep down I didn’t want to have this baby alone.
I moved into his mum’s house so we could be together while we prepared for the baby’s arrival, and spent hours talking about what life would be like when we would be a family.
Then, when I was 16 weeks pregnant, I decided to clean out his room while he was out at football practice.
“This place is such a mess,” I said to myself as I made the bed.
I picked up a pile of clothes from the floor and opened his wardrobe. I put the clothes away but as I was about to shut the door something caught my eye.
There was a fat bundle of paperwork stuffed into a carrier bag. I pulled the papers out and started to leaf through them curiously. What I saw made me feel sick to my stomach.
Joseph had been charged with having sexual activity with an underage girl. The papers revealed text messages between Joseph and the 14-year-old, dating back to a few months before I had met him.
My stomach knotted tightly as I thought about what this meant for us – for the baby. Everything had happened so fast with Joseph – did I even know him at all?
Angry and disgusted, I waited until he returned from football to confront him.
“Why are you being charged with sexual activity with a 14 year old?” I demanded as soon as he walked into the bedroom.
His smile froze as his eyes fell to the pile of papers on the bed.
“Where did you find those?” he asked. “Have you been looking through my things?”
“That’s all you’ve got to say?” I said. “I’m carrying your baby and that’s all you’ve got to say to me?”
He took a deep breath and sat down on the bed.
“It was a girl I was seeing before I met you,” Joseph said. “It was a mistake, and it’s in the past now. I didn’t exactly expect to get charged for it. I was really immature back then, but I’ve changed for you and the baby – I swear.”
My head swam and I didn’t know what to think. I was pregnant and living in his house with his family – I badly wanted to believe that he was telling the truth. But I couldn’t be sure.
“Ok,” I said eventually. “We’ll see how things go.”
“Good,” he said. “Because you’re my future now – you and the baby. I’ll prove it to you. I can’t wait for us to be a proper family.”
I tried to push the issue out of my head and focus on the baby. And when we discovered we were having a little girl at the 20 week scan, we were over the moon.
For a few weeks, everything was perfect. We made a list of girls names we loved and as my bump grew, so did my anticipation to meet our daughter.
But in February 2015, Joseph had to attend court. I agreed to support him, but couldn’t help feeling unsettled as we walked up the court steps.
I didn’t want to go into the courtroom, so I waited outside. When he emerged after what felt like forever, his face was white and I could tell he had been crying.
“I was found guilty and placed on the sex offenders register,” he said quietly. “Let’s go home.”
I felt sick. The idea that Joseph was a paedophile in the eyes of the law went around and around in my head for the following few weeks and eventually, in March 2015, I decided I just couldn’t be with him anymore.
I had the safety of my unborn child to think about – I didn’t want to raise a child with a sex offender. I also couldn’t bear the idea of him touching me.
Our beautiful daughter Grace was born in May 2015, after a four day labour, and she was the most amazing thing I had ever set my eyes on.
“Hello my beautiful girl,” I whispered to her as I held her for the first time. “You’re completely worth the wait.”
I vowed there and then to protect her against anything, and although I let Joseph meet her in the hospital, I made it clear I didn’t want him in our lives.
He was devastated and begged to be given another chance, but I stood firm. It was hard, but I was convinced it was the right thing to do.
Just a month later, in June, I was certain of it. I was idly scrolling through Instagram when I came across a comment Joseph had left on a teenage girl’s photo.
I could tell she was under 16. He was obviously up to his old tricks again – despite already being banned from contacting girls online.
I immediately called the police and reported him, and they approached the girl in question, who agreed to press charges.
In October 2015, thanks to my tip-off, Joseph was convicted for breaching his ban and handed a 12 month suspended sentence. He’ll be on the sex offenders register for ten years too.
Meanwhile, I’ve met a new man – Connor, 20, and Grace and I are moving on with our lives.
But I’ll never forget the day I was cleaning the closet and discovered the father of my baby is a paedophile.
Lorna-May was devastated after her shocking discovery but she knew selling her story to the national press would help raise awareness of grooming and sexual abuse. We sold her story to Real People magazine as well as various news websites, reaching a huge readership. If you want to speak out about your experiences, complete the form on the right and we’ll call you for a no-obligation chat to discuss how it works.