opinion

The husband who spent $12,000 on hookers & porn

How does a woman stand by her man when he’s accused of this

Yesterday former MP Craig Thompson was finally found guilty of spending $400,000 of stolen union funds on hookers, pornography and other expenses. During the trial his lawyer admitted to his client’s use of prostitutes but argued they were legitimate expenses.

Like many other women, I’m sure, my thoughts immediately turned to his wife Zoe Arnold who continues to stand by her man. How? Why?

In Melbourne Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said it was an “affront to common sense” that payments to escorts could ever be considered a legitimate expense. Thompson has been found guilty numerous theft and fraud charges, including:

* Passing off a $770 receipt for sex with a prostitute called Alina as a dinner function;

* Spending at least $6000 on escorts;

* Paying for pornographic movies in hotel rooms.

He is now facing five years in jail and the union will seek restitution to cover some or all of the money he stole. There are also calls for a Royal Commission into union corruption.

Craig Thompson and wife Zoe Arnold in happier times

Zoe, Thompson's third wife, is still pledging to stand by him. She was pregnant with their first child in 2009 when her husband was first accused of misusing union funds. Yesterday she was at their home on the Central Coast caring for their two daughters, Matilda, five and Adelaide, three, when her husband was convicted.

In 2012 Arnold told Australian Women's Weekly she immediately confronted her husband about the allegations when they first started circulating. He denied them and she believed him.

“I told Craig the day the first story had come out that life would be much easier for us if he confessed to visiting brothels and admitted he had used his work credit card," she said. "Craig looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘But I didn’t do it’, a statement he has repeated publicly and privately again and again.”

I can understand how she believed his initial declarations of innocence. Isn't that how it normally goes in stories like this? You find out something terrible about your partner, confront them and their initial response is deny, deny, deny. But despite his elaborate attempts to protest his innocence this is a woman, a mother of two, who has been dealing with mounting evidence that her husband is, at the very least, a long time user of prostitutes.

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Since 2005,  she's been living with the fallout from her husband's horrid behaviour. Now that he's been found guilty, can she really continue to stick by him?  There's a long line of political wives who've stood by their cheating husbands for the greater good, but Thompson is no Clinton.

Thompson has alluded to the mental and physical toll the situation has had on him. Perhaps she's decided to stand by him until she knows he'll be okay. He is the father of her children after all. No matter how she paints it, he lied to her and to the Australian public. Whether or not his behaviour constitutes cheating is a matter for them and them only.

Some married men don't think the use of prostitutes is technically cheating. It's a sexual act, it's not about love or a relationship so what's the harm? Of course most of these men aren't admitting to their wives what they're up to, so there is a level of deception at the very least, a lie by omission.

In Australia prostitution is legal in NSW, VIC and QLD. It's was partially decriminalised in NT and the ACT in 1992. It remains illegal in WA, SA and TAS. The Eros Shine Awards even hands out awards like Best Australian Brothel annually. The industry is thriving and majority of prostitute users are married men.

Rumours abound that Thompson's and Arnold's marriage is over, however they continue to deny it. For now they are maintaining a united front.

In the AWW interview, she explained. "I know a man who brings me a cup of tea every morning in bed. A man who dotes on his daughters. A man who tells me every day how much he loves me, how much he loves our little family."

She's been humiliated, and it's all his fault. I hope for her sake and the sake of her two children that she continues to cope with the nightmare her life has become. At least he didn't have an affair, right?

Is it worse for a husband to visit brothels or to have an affair?

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