MILWAUKEE – "Dear Abby" advice columnist Jeanne Phillips called police after receiving a letter from a man who wrote about his pornographic fantasies of having sex with children.
Paul Weiser, 28, who police said admitted writing the letter, was charged Wednesday with three counts of possession of child pornography, said Paul Tiffin, a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney.
Police said 40 pornographic photographs of children were found in the man's computer after he was arrested Monday. He admitted writing the letter but denied acting on his fantasies, police said.
"I lost sleep, didn't sleep for days, because I really believe this man wrote to me genuinely seeking help," Phillips told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in its Wednesday editions. "I was torn, because my readers do turn to me for help, yet there was the priority of the safety of those young girls."
The "Dear Abby" column's credibility is based on the anonymity given those seeking her advice, and making the call to police was "an extremely difficult thing to do," Phillips said.
"I believe he was seeking help and I hope that is considered, and I hope he gets the help he so obviously needs," Phillips said.
Phillips, whose mother, Pauline Phillips, created the column 46 years ago under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, has contributed to the column since the early 1980s. Jeanne Phillips has written the bulk of the columns for the past decade.
"Dear Abby" now appears in more than 1,200 newspapers around the globe, according to Universal Press Syndicate.
Pauline Phillips's twin sister, Eppie Lederer, writes an advice column under the pseudonym "Ann Landers."