From Tracie: Is Honey Boo Boo's Mom Dating A Child Molester?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Is Honey Boo Boo's Mom Dating A Child Molester?

I received an email from my friend this weekend asking me if I was planning to write a blog post about Honey Boo Boo being cancelled. I had to look the story up, because I don't follow the show, and hadn't heard the news.

The story is this: TLC cancelled the show because Honey Boo Boo's mom, June "Mama June" Shannon, has reportedly resumed dating an old boyfriend, registered sex offender, Mark McDaniel. He was released from prison in March after serving 10 years for an aggravated child molestation conviction in 2004. Anna Marie Cardwell (apparently called "Chickadee" on the show), June Shannon's daughter, has publicly identified herself as his victim.

Has June Shannon resumed the relationship with her child-rapist boyfriend?

Shannon says she isn't dating him. She released this statement on the Honey Boo Boo Facebook page on October 24th:

In the video she says, "The statement of me dating a sex offender is totally untrue. Um, Pumpkin has openly said that I did not - I did not date him - and also his son. I would not ever ever ever put my kids in danger. I love my kids too much. That is my past. I have not seen that person in ten years, and don't seem to want to see that person."
But, TMZ released a picture of the two of them together at a party in a hotel room. It was followed by pictures of them looking at a house together, seemingly holding hands. At least one of her daughters was present for this outing, by the way. (Is that "Pumpkin"? I don't know.)

If that wasn't enough evidence that she has at least seen McDaniel, TMZ released a picture today that appears to show McDaniel with his hand on 9-year-old Alana (Honey Boo Boo) as they walk down a flight of stairs. Reportedly this picture was taken a month ago.

Honey Boo Boo Child Molester Picture
TMZ Screenshot

So. Is June Shannon dating a child-rapist? I don't know. I'm not involved in  her life - I've never even seen the show. She might not be dating him. They might just be hooking up. Maybe they are just friends. But it is pretty clear she is seeing him. And if the TMZ timeline is to be believed, she spent time with him more than once since his release from prison, and then lied about it in the Facebook video, so any credibility she might have had is gone now.

Why does this matter? Is it really my business who she dates?
It matters because she is responsible for the lives of her children, and her actions are clearly putting them in danger. It is everyone's business to not stay silent when they see children in danger.

But there is another reason to talk about this situation. I think it demonstrates something many people don't realize - there are a lot of women who stay with the men who sexually abuse their children. And, sadly, the fact that this woman would resume any sort of relationship with a man who was convicted of aggravated child molestation against her own daughter is heinous, but not unbelievable.

There are four categories of women* who are in relationships with child molesters:
  1. The woman who does not know her husband molests children, and will walk out on the relationship immediately once she finds out what he has done. 
  2. The woman who does not know her husband molests children, but will refuse to believe the child, defend the abuser, and stay in the relationship once she finds out what he has done.
  3. The woman who knows exactly what is going on, but stands in the place of denial, and refuses to admit to herself or anyone else what is happening. This woman will most likely try to defend the abuser, and stay with him even if the abuse is revealed.
  4. The woman who not only knows about the abuse, but also participates in it - either by actively helping to cover up his actions, supplying him with children to abuse, or physically taking part in the abuse herself. 
I can't say for sure which category June Shannon fits in, but we can find some clues in an interview her daughter Anna Marie Cardwell gave to People about what happened during her childhood:
Cardwell also says that after McDaniel was arrested, Shannon was skeptical of her story about being molested. 
"A week or so after it happened, I talked to Mama and she was upset, crying and saying, 'I don't believe you, I don't believe you, why would you do this to me?' " Cardwell says. "And I was like, 'Mama, he did that to me and I can't do anything about it. You were never there to see it you were always at work." 
In this interaction I see a story playing out that I have heard time and time again from childhood sexual abuse survivors. The mom looking at the child and saying, "I don't believe you. Why would you do this to me?" She does not express any concern about her child who was being sexually molested, or more accurately, raped. All of the concern is for herself, and what is happening to her world.

Shannon got out of the relationship with McDaniel once he was placed in prison, but that doesn't mean her opinion about his crimes changed. And now that he is out, she is right back with him, spending time together.

She might not have known what was happening ten years ago when McDaniel was raping her daughter, Anna Marie, but she absolutely knows now, whether she wants to admit it or not. And that isn't stopping her from spending time with him, and exposing her children to danger by bringing them with her. And it isn't stopping her from saying with her actions, once again, that Anna Marie's pain does not mean anything to her.

There are a lot of snarky things I could say about this woman and her family, starting with the fact that I had to type the words "Honey Boo Boo" as if they were a legitimate name. There is also a lot to be said about the fact that they rose to fame because of participation in the child beauty pageant circuit, which is questionable at best. But I think the seriousness of this situation rises above all of that.

I am reminded that 90% of childhood sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator, and that children are most vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse when they are between the ages of 7 and 13.

Hopefully the public attention on this case will result in a an investigation being opened by child protective services. I don't say this lightly. Her children deserve a caretaker who does not knowingly place them in harm's way. If their mother won't be that person, if she won't put their needs and safety first, then she should not be in the position of having custody of them. I have no pity for a woman who believes a child molester over her own daughter, and then gives that same child molester access to her other children.

*These same four categories would apply to men who are married to child abusers as well, because there are women and mothers who physically and sexually abuse children. This is not only a male crime.


  1. I truly never watched this show and probably don't have much of a right commenting, but still was sick just reading this and honestly can't understand how any women could put her own child in any kind of harm's way. Just my two cents for what it is worth.

    1. I know what you mean about never having watched it - I haven't either - but I still ended up writing a whole post about it. And I count your opinion as being very valuable.

      There is no excuse for a woman to put her children in that situation. None at all. I will never understand it, either.

  2. I've never seen the show either, but this made me sad :( I didn't even know the mother was single. I feel like in the very beginning there was a father in the picture? But again I've never seen it so I could be off. Good of TLC to take it off air, though. They could have gotten a LOT of views if they kept on filming, but the fact that they're choosing not to is commendable.

  3. Another great post on the issue of sexual offenders. I didn't know about the history of sexual offending in Boo Boo's family. I don't watch the show and from a couple of clips I have seen of them I don't have any respect for her mother. Truly appalling behavior on her part. I believed that an abuser would be barred from associating with any victims or any family members of the victims, but I don't think that I know enough about this case to assume anything. Truly appalling.

    Thanks again for the post.


  4. I have never watched the show, but I was deeply saddened to read about the sexual abuse. Thank you for your reflection, Tracie.....your insights are on-target and your writing is excellent.


  5. This is a great post about a tragic situation. I have seen the show, though I wasn't a regular watcher. The one thing I would have said a few months ago is, "There's a lot of love and acceptance in that family." So some reality TV producer is obviously great at his/her job. During most of the show, she was with the father of the youngest one, "Honey Boo Boo". But she wouldn't marry him, which I thought was weird. And then after the molester got out of prison, the father is kicked out and the molester is hanging around with them. Just awful.

  6. This whole situation just breaks my heart. I hope the girls are getting help and support, and that child services is brought in to make sure they are safe. Thank you for writing such a great post.

  7. I've never seen that show, but I was already fearful for Honey Boo Boo's future without knowing this.
    And now I feel even more sad for this family.

  8. Isn't American television just the very best?
    I'm so proud.