Forgiving paedophiles

I caught a fascinating programme on Radio Four last night which spoke to a man who had sexually abused his daughter and the wife who took him back into the family fold despite this.
The couple spoke so reasonably, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all a bit, well, mad. But is this rational or moral of me?
The synopsis is roughly this. The man was aware of finding young girls sexually attractive, but just avoided situations in which he might be tempted to act on it. But then he did act on his desires with his eight-year-old daughter. We’re not told what the abuse was – just that it was “inappropriate touching”.
When the girl told the mother, after she had expressed some concern, the mother asked the girl what she wanted, which was for daddy to say sorry and not do it again. The mother asked if she wanted daddy to go away and the girl was adamant that she did not.
So the mother’s actions after this were all premised on the desire to respect her daughter’s wishes and keep the family together.
Of course, the social services saw it as a child protection and criminal matter, not an internal family problem, and the guy was convicted. But several years later, and after treatment, he’s back in the family house, and apparently everybody is happy.
But still, this seemed warped. Why?
Well, first of all I wonder why the mother still wanted to live as man and wife with a man who had sexually touched her daughter. That’s odd enough.
Then I was worried about the totally future-looking consequentialist nature of the couple’s thinking. It was as though what had happened in the past was in a sense irrelevant: all that mattered was putting things right in the future.
But this seems odd to me, and it perhaps reflects some unease I have over exclusively consequence-based thinking. The fact is that what happened cannot be just erased or cancelled out by fixing the future. We can’t just be amnesiacs about past wrong doings, can we? The world changed when the father touched his daughter, and it seems naive to think it could put back together again in something like its previous form.
Also, perhaps it is true that in this case it all worked out. But what a risk, surely? We have to act on what we can rationally expect is likely to happen, not on what is logically possible. Sure, I can imagine that this story is how they told it, but the mother was perhaps still foolish to hope it would turn out like this. (An extreme example of moral luck, perhaps.) Indeed, it worked out after the father was taken away, imprisoned and so on. What she had actually wanted was for him not to go away at all. So maybe it worked out despite the mother’s extremely forgiving attitude, not because of it.
To be honest, I’m not sure what to think, except that the couple’s rationales sound eerily suspect to me. My prejudice? Listen if you can, and let me know what you think, even if you can’t.

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