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Creepy Old Man in Church


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There is someone in his mid sixties who is currently attending our branch that seems to creep out many of the younger women on the branch (including my 17 year old daughter).  He tends to stare a bit and he often come and talks to the younger women and gets a little too much  into their personal space.  He hasn't tried to ask anyone out or hasn't physically touched anyone that I know of, but he is making everyone uncomfortable.  At one point when there were sister missionaries in the branch he would try and sit with them (again, he didn't touch or say anything explicitly inappropriate) but he made them uncomfortable enough that they requested the elders sit between the man and them and we had the elders intercept him to talk with him.   He is also making my daughter uncomfortable as well.  Nothing overt, he just seems to be a little too friendly, looks at her a bit too much and gets a little closer than he should when he tries to shake her hand.  

Anyway, I've decided that it probably needs to be dealt, and I might as well be the one to do it.  His behavior is subtle enough that I personally to not notice it when it occurs so it would be hard for me to stop in in the middle of whatever he is doing.  I am not sensitive enough, anyway, to detect it while it is occurring.   I don't think he has crossed any lines that would justify expelling him from building, but I might suggest that if he continues making people uncomfortable.  I want people to feel safe at church.

 

Anyone here have experience  with success or failure in dealing with this kind of person? 

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yep, our past Stake RS President has these "visions" and "revelations". One of them was that a sister missionary was going to be her eternal companion and then she told the RS sisters in the ward this plan. The sister missionary wasn't in the room when this info was shared mind you. I could literally care less who is gay or not but I don't know that a 20 yr old sister missionary would marry a 60 plus yr woman that she barely knows. At the end of the day the sister finished her mission and married a man. I just think the delivery of this plan might not have been the best way of doing things. When I was the WML here I used to tell the missionaries if you feel uncomfortable get out of the situation, don't stay and find out what will happen, your safety is paramount.

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6 minutes ago, Danzo said:

There is someone in his mid sixties who is currently attending our branch that seems to creep out many of the younger women on the branch (including my 17 year old daughter).  He tends to stare a bit and he often come and talks to the younger women and gets a little too much  into their personal space.  He hasn't tried to ask anyone out or hasn't physically touched anyone that I know of, but he is making everyone uncomfortable.  At one point when there were sister missionaries in the branch he would try and sit with them (again, he didn't touch or say anything explicitly inappropriate) but he made them uncomfortable enough that they requested the elders sit between the man and them and we had the elders intercept him to talk with him.   He is also making my daughter uncomfortable as well.  Nothing overt, he just seems to be a little too friendly, looks at her a bit too much and gets a little closer than he should when he tries to shake her hand.  

Anyway, I've decided that it probably needs to be dealt, and I might as well be the one to do it.  His behavior is subtle enough that I personally to not notice it when it occurs so it would be hard for me to stop in in the middle of whatever he is doing.  I am not sensitive enough, anyway, to detect it while it is occurring.   I don't think he has crossed any lines that would justify expelling him from building, but I might suggest that if he continues making people uncomfortable.  I want people to feel safe at church.

 

Anyone here have experience  with success or failure in dealing with this kind of person? 

Not exactly this, but one successful instance is that the offended party told the RS President, it was discussed in ward council, and an effective plan put in place. I suppose a parent like yourself could report it to the bishop, the missionaries to their president, etc. It is important to describe the observable behavior as best you can. If he stopped associating with the sister missionaries after the elders sat with him, maybe the same thing would work with a couple of men hanging around him closely throughout the meetings and see what happens.

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2 minutes ago, Duncan said:

yep, our past Stake RS President has these "visions" and "revelations". One of them was that a sister missionary was going to be her eternal companion and then she told the RS sisters in the ward this plan. The sister missionary wasn't in the room when this info was shared mind you. I could literally care less who is gay or not but I don't know that a 20 yr old sister missionary would marry a 60 plus yr woman that she barely knows. At the end of the day the sister finished her mission and married a man. I just think the delivery of this plan might not have been the best way of doing things. When I was the WML here I used to tell the missionaries if you feel uncomfortable get out of the situation, don't stay and find out what will happen, your safety is paramount.

Did anyone confront the former RS President?  Is she still there? Is she still Creepy?

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4 minutes ago, Danzo said:

Did anyone confront the former RS President?  Is she still there? Is she still Creepy?

not as far as I know, she isn't serving still and yes, she is still creepy. I don't live in her Stake anymore so I don't know specifics

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Just now, CV75 said:

Not exactly this, but one successful instance is that the offended party told the RS President, it was discussed in ward council, and an effective plan put in place. I suppose a parent like yourself could report it to the bishop, the missionaries to their president, etc. It is important to describe the observable behavior as best you can. If he stopped associating with the sister missionaries after the elders sat with him, maybe the same thing would work with a couple of men hanging around him closely throughout the meetings and see what happens.

That is kinda how we are dealing with him right now, trying to have other men occupy the guy.  One of our problems is that it is a small branch and we don't have a lot of extra people to babysit him.  He hasn't done anything explicitly wrong., but he makes the sisters in the branch feel uncomfortable.  Most of what he does is just greet the sisters in a way that is a bit too friendly and a bit too much in the person space, while staring at them.  Its hard to stop someone from looking (and frankly I am busy enough greeting people that I don't notice.  The sisters, however, do notice.

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1 minute ago, Duncan said:

not as far as I know, she isn't serving still and yes, she is still creepy. I don't live in her Stake anymore so I don't know specifics

Its a tough situation. We don't want to turn people away, but we also want people to feel safe.  Those two goals are not always compatible. 

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12 minutes ago, Danzo said:

That is kinda how we are dealing with him right now, trying to have other men occupy the guy.  One of our problems is that it is a small branch and we don't have a lot of extra people to babysit him.  He hasn't done anything explicitly wrong., but he makes the sisters in the branch feel uncomfortable.  Most of what he does is just greet the sisters in a way that is a bit too friendly and a bit too much in the person space, while staring at them.  Its hard to stop someone from looking (and frankly I am busy enough greeting people that I don't notice.  The sisters, however, do notice.

Maye his ministering brother can show him some social / boundary skills in an non-offending way. I'm sure the women must avoid him or step back at this point. Maybe they can be assertive and say "Sorry, you are standing too close to me, please back off." Or something stronger, up to them. If the problem continues, I'd give him some direct feedback. It's easy enough to check his background, too. I've seen these and variations of these work effectively. 

Edited by CV75
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58 minutes ago, Danzo said:

There is someone in his mid sixties who is currently attending our branch that seems to creep out many of the younger women on the branch (including my 17 year old daughter).  He tends to stare a bit and he often come and talks to the younger women and gets a little too much  into their personal space.  He hasn't tried to ask anyone out or hasn't physically touched anyone that I know of, but he is making everyone uncomfortable.  At one point when there were sister missionaries in the branch he would try and sit with them (again, he didn't touch or say anything explicitly inappropriate) but he made them uncomfortable enough that they requested the elders sit between the man and them and we had the elders intercept him to talk with him.   He is also making my daughter uncomfortable as well.  Nothing overt, he just seems to be a little too friendly, looks at her a bit too much and gets a little closer than he should when he tries to shake her hand.  

I didn't notice if you said anywhere that you have spoken with the Bishop or Branch President about this situation.  Have you?

We had a middle-aged man move into our ward (a prior ward, a few years ago), and I was participating in bishopric meetings at the time.  When his records were transferred in, we also received a letter from the man's parents informing us of his mental situation.  I don't remember the exact diagnosis, but he had underdeveloped social skills and we were warned of some of his behaviors in advance (he wasn't quite as creepy around women the same way you are describing your situation).  But knowing this really helped in how we worked with this individual (we assigned someone from the elder's quorum to sit with him or to keep an eye on him) and how we helped him through the meetings, and it worked out well.

It's quite possible that this new individual in your ward has some kind of mental disorder or social skill problems that may not be entirely what it seems to be on the surface.  But whatever the case, you may want to ask your bishop if he knows anything about the individual, and work with the person in question in a positive way.   He seems too old for his parents to have written a letter to your bishop to help you understand him (that was quite unusual with the person from our ward), but maybe there is something your bishop knows about him that you can work with.

Edited by InCognitus
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1 hour ago, Danzo said:

Anyone here have experience  with success or failure in dealing with this kind of person? 

If your eyesight is poor you will have trouble judging distance to others,  His hearing may be bad this would also explain how close he gets.

Proceed with caution,  could all be harmless.

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47 minutes ago, Metis_LDS said:

If your eyesight is poor you will have trouble judging distance to others,  His hearing may be bad this would also explain how close he gets.

Proceed with caution,  could all be harmless.

I hope he is harmless, but talking to my wife (and others) his eyesight and hearing seem to be especially bad around young women and young adults.

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1 hour ago, InCognitus said:

I didn't notice if you said anywhere that you have spoken with the Bishop or Branch President about this situation.  Have you?

We had a middle-aged man move into our ward (a prior ward, a few years ago), and I was participating in bishopric meetings at the time.  When his records were transferred in, we also received a letter from the man's parents informing us of his mental situation.  I don't remember the exact diagnosis, but he had underdeveloped social skills and we were warned of some of his behaviors in advance (he wasn't quite as creepy around women the same way you are describing your situation).  But knowing this really helped in how we worked with this individual (we assigned someone from the elder's quorum to sit with him or to keep an eye on him) and how we helped him through the meetings, and it worked out well.

It's quite possible that this new individual in your ward has some kind of mental disorder or social skill problems that may not be entirely what it seems to be on the surface.  But whatever the case, you may want to ask your bishop if he knows anything about the individual, and work with the person in question in a positive way.   He seems too old for his parents to have written a letter to your bishop to help you understand him (that was quite unusual with the person from our ward), but maybe there is something your bishop knows about him that you can work with.

The branch president knows about him (I plan on bringing it up with him before having a discussion with the old man).

I think he might have a few mental problems, which is why I want to be nice. (I have an autistic son and sometimes have needed to explain appropriate behavior to him because he doesn't always get it on his own).

Really cant' get any information from old leaders.  He was completely inactive before he started coming (in fact he already accepted the missionaries invitation to be baptized before we realized he already had been baptized a few years before)

We could try a background check and see what come up, but since he is an immigrant, chances are we wouldn't find anything.

Edited by Danzo
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4 hours ago, Danzo said:

There is someone in his mid sixties who is currently attending our branch that seems to creep out many of the younger women on the branch (including my 17 year old daughter).  He tends to stare a bit and he often come and talks to the younger women and gets a little too much  into their personal space.  He hasn't tried to ask anyone out or hasn't physically touched anyone that I know of, but he is making everyone uncomfortable.  At one point when there were sister missionaries in the branch he would try and sit with them (again, he didn't touch or say anything explicitly inappropriate) but he made them uncomfortable enough that they requested the elders sit between the man and them and we had the elders intercept him to talk with him.   He is also making my daughter uncomfortable as well.  Nothing overt, he just seems to be a little too friendly, looks at her a bit too much and gets a little closer than he should when he tries to shake her hand.  

Anyway, I've decided that it probably needs to be dealt, and I might as well be the one to do it.  His behavior is subtle enough that I personally to not notice it when it occurs so it would be hard for me to stop in in the middle of whatever he is doing.  I am not sensitive enough, anyway, to detect it while it is occurring.   I don't think he has crossed any lines that would justify expelling him from building, but I might suggest that if he continues making people uncomfortable.  I want people to feel safe at church.

 

Anyone here have experience  with success or failure in dealing with this kind of person? 

Remind me not to go to your ward. I'm in my mid 60s to late 60s and I love being around youthful people. If that makes me some kind of creep I guess I'll never come back to church.

PS we are hard at hearing and have bad eyesight. 

Edited by rodheadlee
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Be frank and be kind.  You could offer something like "Folks have been picking up vibes that you might not mean to be sending out". Benefit of the doubt is free.

After the frank part, signal friendship. If you can get his trust, he might be more than willing to accept help sorting out the nuances of social conduct.

Everyone gets stuff wrong until they get it right.

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7 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

If it were just autism or something along those lines he would probably be getting into the personal space of men too.

Yeah. My take is he's behaving poorly. Okay. That's a fixable thing but the priority is eliminating the cause of the sisters' unease.

Eventually he needs to feel some regret. That'll demonstrate empathy - which is pretty dang important in these situations.

Edited by Chum
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5 hours ago, Danzo said:

There is someone in his mid sixties who is currently attending our branch that seems to creep out many of the younger women on the branch (including my 17 year old daughter).  He tends to stare a bit and he often come and talks to the younger women and gets a little too much  into their personal space

So far he's done nothing wrong. He's just one of those people that are a little different. 

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

He hasn't tried to ask anyone out or hasn't physically touched anyone that I know of, but he is making everyone uncomfortable

You admit he hasn't done anything wrong.

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

At one point when there were sister missionaries in the branch he would try and sit with them (again, he didn't touch or say anything explicitly inappropriate) but he made them uncomfortable enough that they requested the elders sit between the man and them and we had the elders intercept him to talk with him

Still hasn't done anything wrong. 

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

He is also making my daughter uncomfortable as well

Still nothing wrong. 

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

Nothing overt, he just seems to be a little too friendly, looks at her a bit too much and gets a little closer than he should when he tries to shake her hand. 

Still nothing wrong. Yes. Some people are a little too friendly and get a little too close. So what. People are different. 

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

Anyway, I've decided that it probably needs to be dealt, and I might as well be the one to do it

Why? Because people are uncomfortable? Do you need him to be like everyone else for you to feel safe?

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

.   I don't think he has crossed any lines that would justify expelling him from building, but I might suggest that if he continues making people uncomfortable

Really? He has not crossed any lines, but you would suggest expelling him from the building? 

 

5 hours ago, Danzo said:

 I want people to feel safe at church.

Maybe instead of confronting him about his behavior, ask him to lunch, take him to a movie. Become his friend. Maybe he's lonely and doesn't understand how to act around people. There's a thousand ways to go about it before telling him he's strange. 

 

 

Something for you to think about. What if you get to know this guy and you find out he's homeless or really poor? Has no family. The only contact he has with people is at church. How are you going to feel about the situation you find yourself in?

Edited by Jerry Atric
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5 hours ago, Danzo said:

The branch president knows about him (I plan on bringing it up with him before having a discussion with the old man).

I think he might have a few mental problems, which is why I want to be nice. (I have an autistic son and sometimes have needed to explain appropriate behavior to him because he doesn't always get it on his own).

Really cant' get any information from old leaders.  He was completely inactive before he started coming (in fact he already accepted the missionaries invitation to be baptized before we realized he already had been baptized a few years before)

We could try a background check and see what come up, but since he is an immigrant, chances are we wouldn't find anything.

Since he is an immigrant, it may be a cultural difference, but if it is just happening with women and the younger ones especially, that is a red flag. Even if cultural, it needs to change.

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3 hours ago, rodheadlee said:

Remind me not to go to your ward. I'm in my mid 60s to late 60s and I love being around youthful people. If that makes me some kind of creep I guess I'll never come back to church.

PS we are hard at hearing and have bad eyesight. 

But, Rod, would you be acting that differently around the younger women as opposed to everyone else, including young men?  If his behaviour is consistent with everyone, it is no big deal and likely a misunderstanding. If it is with just one part of the whole group, that likely means something else. 

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9 minutes ago, Calm said:

But, Rod, would you be acting that differently around the younger women as opposed to everyone else, including young men?  If his behaviour is consistent with everyone, it is no big deal and likely a misunderstanding. If it is with just one part of the whole group, that likely means something else. 

Maybe his behavior is more consistent than people realize but is only noticed when younger women are in the picture — a case of confirmation bias combined with group think, perhaps. 

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36 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Maybe his behavior is more consistent than people realize but is only noticed when younger women are in the picture — a case of confirmation bias combined with group think, perhaps. 

In my experience most guys have the same sense of personal space as women in American culture. They are even more defensive about it.

Edited by The Nehor
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34 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Maybe his behavior is more consistent than people realize but is only noticed when younger women are in the picture — a case of confirmation bias combined with group think, perhaps. 

That is possible.  Maybe Danzo could talk to a few people who have had concerns and ask them to pay attention to see if it occurs with others, not just the young women.  But given our culture, if someone is moving in close or touching a lot, I would think it would be noticed by men as much as women and definitely would be noticed by older women as well as young.

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