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Hulu Doc Exposes a Sexual Predator | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


Infidelity hurts, but the anguish Jenifer Faison suffered was on an altogether different level, considering the mind-bogglingly sleazy scale of her husband’s unfaithfulness. On June 1, 2018, Jenifer learned about her spouse Spencer Herron’s two-timing upon returning home to find him sitting on their living room couch, shaking his head and muttering “it’s over, it’s all over.” On the table next to him was a search warrant featuring the words “sexual assault” and “student.” Before Jennifer could process what was happening, police officers arrived and arrested Spencer, thus beginning a nightmare that was as ugly as it was unexpected.

Based on Jenifer and producer Andrea Gunning’s podcast of the same name, Betrayal: The Perfect Husband (July 11 on Hulu) is a three-part ABC News Studios docuseries that recounts the shocking revelations that rocked Jenifer’s world, and the courageousness on the part of a young victim who brought Spencer’s disgusting behavior to light. Its non-fiction form is stretched thin for maximum melodramatic purposes, lowlighted by cheesy drone shots and songs whose on-the-nose lyrics seem designed to inspire eye-rolls and guffaws. Yet its core tale remains compelling, especially when, during its closing chapter, it lets a sexual abuse survivor detail the step-by-step means by which she was groomed into participating in a criminally inappropriate relationship.

Jenifer originally met Spencer when she transferred to Berry College, a small institution in northwest Georgia, for her junior year. The manager of the school’s television station as well as an on-air personality, Spencer was well-known and liked by everyone; friend Josh Villines says he was the type of charismatic, good-looking, outgoing Eagle Scout who’d generously help you move a couch into your dorm room. Jenifer and Spencer almost immediately began dating, and thanks to his sweetness and effusiveness—he’d routinely pass her handwritten notes that proclaimed her “a dream come true. I am now the happiest man on campus”—Jenifer fell head over heels in love, going so far as to introduce him to her family (who were similarly smitten).

Jenifer Faison in “Betrayal: The Perfect Husband.”

Hulu

Despite the fairytale nature of their courtship, Jenifer broke things off with Spencer (who was a year older than her) when he graduated, believing that things wouldn’t last given their different circumstances. After three years at a radio station, Jenifer relocated to Los Angeles to become a television producer on shows such as Judge Judy and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (for which she was nominated for an Emmy). Spencer stayed in Georgia and got married, had kids, and worked as a freelance videographer and at a high school where he taught video production. On top of that, he played in an Air National Guard band, which required occasional deployments. Both Jenifer and Spencer were thriving, and 20 years (and one Spencer divorce) later, a chance Facebook message—and a fortuitous turn of events that placed them both in New York City at the same time—led them to reconnect.

From the get-go, Jenifer thought their rekindled amour was “magical” and “meant to be,” and she soon chose to move back to Georgia to be with him. On camera, she and Andrea pore over Spencer’s love notes and letters—to a runtime-padding (and borderline self-exploitative) degree—in order to prove that Jenifer was justified in being swept away by Spencer. That material extends to clips from the couple’s Dec. 30, 2012, wedding and their subsequent purchase of a wine bar in downtown Acworth, Georgia, and it conclusively establishes that Spencer resembled an ideal catch. As a result, when he was charged with sexual assault, Jenifer was completely blindsided. She was additionally bowled over by her inspection of his emails, Facebook account, and texts, which revealed that he had been sleeping around with dozens upon dozens of women, including friends of hers, prostitutes, and escorts and—most damning of all—one of his high school students.

Through new interviews as well as ones taken from the podcast—plus Jenifer’s highly organized, data-driven analysis of his correspondences—Betrayal: The Perfect Husband conveys the extensive scope of Spencer’s compulsive cheating. Sometimes carrying on six to seven simultaneous affairs, he was apparently a lout possessed, and Hulu’s docuseries suggests that he was a veritable sex addict who needed to continually push the boundaries—of the number of women he was with; of the risks he was taking; and of the kinkiness of his trysts—in order to feel satisfied. Ultimately, that led him to start grooming a Kell High School student (where he was Teacher of the Year!) named Rachel when she was only 15, and to sleep with her when she was 16. Though the age of consent in Georgia is 16, it’s illegal for an educator to have sexual relations with any student, and Spencer was consequently charged by Cobb County prosecutors. He pled guilty and was sentenced to five years behind bars and 15 years of probation, and now must register as a sex offender.

Spencer Herron in the Hulu documentary “Betrayal: The Perfect Husband.”

Spencer Herron in “Betrayal: The Perfect Husband.”

Hulu

Betrayal: The Perfect Husband is an empathetic portrait of Jenifer and a brutal takedown of Spencer that alternately pulls so hard on the heartstrings, and oozes such disgust for its nominal villain, that it often dips into network news magazine-grade sensationalism. There’s little subtlety or concision to these proceedings, thereby undercutting one’s engagement with the material. Best is the third installment’s scenes of Rachel speaking about her ordeal both on Jenifer’s podcast and to a university criminology department. Rachel provides a lucid first-person account of how adults groom vulnerable children by gradually expanding interpersonal boundaries (first harmless texts about school, then conversations about personal likes and dislikes, and finally casual physical contact) and preying upon their insecurities. By foregrounding Rachel’s traumatic experience, Betrayal: The Perfect Husband serves as a bracing and illuminating summary of predatory tactics.

Now out of prison, Spencer has been barred from having contact with minors and Jenifer has moved on with her life—although she remains frustrated and furious that her ex has received a seemingly light punishment for his offenses. If nothing else, then, Betrayal: The Perfect Husband will make sure that his reputation remains in tatters, and that viewers are a bit more educated about the potential deceptive monsters in their midst.



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