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‘I remember I was sitting in the front pew at church, and she was at the back and I just couldn’t take my eyes off her, I was always turning around looking at her and I was thinking “don’t be a creep, relax”.’ But his past made him a lot more unsure than Patti was about pursuing a relationship with Lexi, but Lexi being aware of Chris’s conviction through Patti made things easier.

‘It was difficult when you have this label on you’ Chris says.

But Chris is also a convicted sex offender, who lives in an isolated community in Florida populated by other offenders, as strict laws prevent them from living less than 2,500 feet away from places where children congregate.

‘Lexi’s mom does ministry for sex offenders at church, so Lexi already knew about most of the sex offenders there, and so when I started talking about my conviction she was like “yeah, I know that”.’ ‘As a mom…who is ever good enough for your children? ‘Chris’s label didn’t have any bearing at that time because he was already a part of our family whether Lexi was around or not.

So I didn’t have any misgivings because of Chris’s label, but just as a mom with anybody dating your daughter.

‘The folks that I know…yes the crimes they committed are always going to be there, it’s not something they are proud of.

But on the other hand they are people who are trying to live their lives again.

In fact she knew about Chris’s background before she brought the two of them together.

Patti says: ‘The church where I was serving was in a small community, and Chris was a part of our church.

‘They have one of the healthiest relationships I’ve seen,’ Patti tells uk. ‘It’s two people who totally love and respect each other, and love and respect the world and the people in their lives. ‘He’s a wonderful young man who deals as honourably as he can with a difficult situation.

They’ve got the best relationship of most people that I’ve seen. He loves Lexi enough to let her be who she is and she loves him enough to honour who he is. ‘They have one of the healthiest relationships I’ve ever seen because there’s no pretence.’ During his probation he has to be home by 10pm every night and can’t leave until 6am the next morning and is tracked via an ankle bracelet.

They never get to get away from the punishment, it’s their reality every day. ‘But on the other hand they’re working hard and so sorry and want to just have a second chance again because they’re not going to make those same mistakes.

They work harder, they’re people who appreciate life and work the hardest because they know the consequences if there’s ever a problem.

Chris is a young man, and actually introducing Lexi to Chris was just them getting to know each other in a small rural community.

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