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May 19, 2022 30 mins

Jenifer speaks with Hope, a woman that Spencer had a multiyear long affair with during her marriage to Spencer. Jen finds her anger has now turned into compassion as she learns the circumstances under which Hope became involved with Spencer. The former mistress divulges stunning details about Spencer’s physical aggression and emotional manipulation. Hope reveals the guilt and shame she has carried for years since Spencer’s arrest. 

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
This podcast contains discussions of sexual activity that may be
disturbing for some listeners. Please take care while listening. I
know a lot of people would sink, oh, you're just
upset that you got caught. No, as truly feel like
a disgusting person that, knowing better, I allowed myself to
get wrapped up in that, and that I didn't stop it.

(00:23):
I should have. I'm Andrea Gunning and this is a
Betrayal Episode five absolution. After Jennifer met with the sexual

(00:45):
assault victim, she was ready to take on the next
step finding out more about the other relationships Spencer had
during their marriage. From the very beginning, we talked about
you potentially sitting down with the other women. Why do
you want to take that on? When I first found
out about these other women, I was enraged. I mean

(01:11):
I was calling them every name in the book. A
few of these women I know. Fast forward three years later,
and I've learned so much about Spence. You know, the
last time I reached out to some of these women
was days after Spence went to jail, and I found

(01:33):
out I was not very nice at the time. I
remember one woman, she has two teenage daughters, and I
told her, I hope you raise your daughters better than this.
You're angry, very angry, very angry. I still didn't realize

(01:53):
who he was. He was another person with these women.
I'm just trying to pull all the pieces together, kind
of get all of the questions I still want answered
answered so that I can put all of this past me.

(02:14):
While serving in the Air National Guard, Spencer had a
long time affair with one of his bandmates. To protect
her privacy, recalling her Hope it's not her real name.
Jennifer emailed Hope but didn't hear anything back from her,
so our producer Carrie reached out and a dialogue began.
Hope was terrified, but also wanted to be helpful. There

(02:37):
was so much she wanted to say, but the idea
of reliving any of this was almost unbearable for her.
Jennifer and Hope agreed to talk, but minutes before the
agreed upon time, Hope texta that she felt sick. It
was emotionally too much. Cole almost didn't happen, but she

(02:57):
mustered up the courage. What did you think when you
got my email? I mean, I was really surprised since
it had been so long since we had last been
in contact, and then I just kind of felt the
wave of emotions come over me again, you know the same,

(03:19):
the guilt, the fear. When this first all happened, I
just felt like I was completely exposed as a terrible person,
and I felt like my world was literally crashing down
around me. What year did you guys start in the

(03:39):
Air Force together? Twenty fifteen or sixteenth, somewhere around that point.
So I know this might be uncomfortable for you to
tell me, But how did he start this? I believe
it was with a text message. I remember it being

(04:00):
the fourth of July midnight parade in Gatlinburg, and we
were on the bus back to base and I got
this text message. I don't even remember what the initial
start of the conversation was, but then a comment was
made about well you're beautiful, something to that extent, and

(04:22):
that's kind of where it started. Here's an attractive guy
telling me I'm pretty That came out of nowhere, because
even at that point, I don't even remember really ever
talking or having a conversation with him prior to that.
I mean, I knew that he was new in the
band and where he had come from. That kind of thing.

(04:44):
But from how I remember, it was like, Okay, well,
let's hang out and talk. And then the next thing
I know, it's happening so quickly that I was confused.
I was like, what is this? I thought we were
just hanging out talking, and then there we were. You know,
I remember feeling like, oh my god, what's happening? But

(05:06):
then at the same time, I didn't do anything to
stop it. Did a majority of it happen when you
guys were away on those weekends in Knoxville. Yes, there
was no consistency to it, but yeah, the majority of
it was on those weekends. Sorry, this is you know,

(05:26):
I just have to take a deep breath every once
in a while. How were you able to keep it
a secret from everyone or was it not a secret?
I don't know if anybody at the time that knew,
at least from my end of things. I mean I
confided in my closest girlfriend in the unit afterwards, and

(05:50):
if she knew, she didn't let on like she knew.
Did you still date other people or were you guys
kind of exclusive? No, I would, I mean I didn't
date a lot during that period, but I mean just
casual dating. Nothing serious for me? And was that because
you guys, did you have an agreement? No? No, no

(06:14):
real agreement. Um, there were what I thought were joking comments,
you know here and there, you know your mind kind
of thing, but I didn't take that seriously. But there
was no direct you know, I don't want you to
see other people. I mean, this went on for several years.
How did you view this relationship? I guess I felt.

(06:43):
I see how how I put this, because it's not
very kind forwards myself, But um, just like I was
being used whenever there was a need. But I really
thought that he loved me. He had me convinced that
he did. I mean, he he told me so. If

(07:09):
he was showing you that he loved you, why did
you still feel used? I guess because there wasn't like
a definitive thing that we were and two or three
months and would go by and I wouldn't hear anything

(07:29):
or you know, nothing like that, and then all of
a sudden, here we are again. I guess maybe that's
that's why I felt that way. Do you feel like
you loved him? I think I loved the way he
made me feel about myself more than him as a person.

(07:50):
But at that time of my life, I very much
needed to feel loved and wanted, you know, I think
that's what I held onto more than anything. When you
look at it now, do you feel like he manipulated you? Yeah?
I thought a lot about that this morning, thinking about

(08:10):
things and knowing my personality and at that time in
my life. You know, the deployment group, I guess really
sticks out in my mind because I wasn't nearly as
talented as any of the rest of them in the group.
The entire time I was in the group, I was like,
I don't have anything to offer, but I felt like

(08:33):
he made it a point to push for me to
be in the band. I don't really know how I
got approved. I don't know the channels that it went through,
but even at at the same time, I knew like
they're way more qualified people than me, So I guess

(08:53):
I felt like maybe that was the only reason that
I was in the group, and that may me feel
like I owed him something. Here I'm having this awesome
opportunity and I knew like I shouldn't be going, But
just thinking today that may have been part of it.

(09:14):
And then just you know, the innocent comments or walking
by and brush up against me kind of thing, which
you know, reading about grooming specifically, those are some of
the ways that it's done. And there were a lot
of instances like that, just randomly out of nowhere kind
of thing. And that's the kind of stuff I'm curious about,

(09:37):
you know, because I'm just starting to kind of learn
about that grooming process as well. Is that how it starts,
just like you know, the walking by and like tap
you on the shoulder or I don't know, I mean,
is that how he was? Yes, I mean a lot
of times there were just those I mean not completely

(10:01):
blatant obvious things to realize, you know, to notice, but
probably to everyone else around wouldn't be obvious. I have
to ask, and this is not easy for me, but
was his marriage ever talked about? Or was I ever

(10:27):
brought up? I don't remember much conversation other than you know,
like where you were working at the time. I mean,
I knew that you traveled a lot, and then just
bits of conversation like when you guys opened the coffee shop,
but nothing super personal. I remember that there was never

(10:49):
any indication on his part that what we were doing
was wrong. I felt it. I knew it. I mentioned
it when you mentioned it. What was his response? Just
the reiteration of how he felt about me. I mean,
he really never openly talked about the marriage. I feel

(11:10):
like if I was with someone over the span of
four years, I would be emotionally invested and I would
have questions for him about why he's doing this. I mean,
did he talk about like he was going to get divorced? Ever,

(11:31):
I guess if you're asking if I felt like he
was ever going to divorce to be with me, we
never discussed that. And again, I guess from relationships in
my past, I didn't feel like I was worth having
in any kind of long term because most of the
people in my life and relationships left me, And so

(11:54):
maybe I've never even considered or expected that of him.
I mean of your disgust a future with me, and
I know that makes me sound terrible, like you're a
fool for being with someone like this. No, I think
he preyed on you and did make you feel so good.

(12:18):
That happens to a lot of people. We get sucked in.
I am in no way attacking you. I have empathy
for you. This still causing you pain in your life,
looking back, there is definitely more to it. So when

(12:40):
you would see me, was it uncomfortable? It was? I
felt completely guilty and horrible. Yeah, it felt weird. I
didn't know how to act or how to be. It
was just also shocking, you know, first the student and

(13:00):
then somebody I knew. Obviously you know that he got convicted. Right.
Do you remember how you found out about his arrest?
I do. I had pulled up in the parking lot

(13:22):
at work. It was in the evening, and a friend
from the band text and said, have you heard about Sensor?
I was like, no, what's going on? And they went
on to tell me, you know, when he's been arrested.
I was completely shocked. It's like, surely that can't be.
But I know that there wouldn't be an arrest weren't

(13:45):
of that nature and that seriousness without there being some
truth to it. So I guess part of me knew, Okay, yeah,
I can see this, you could. I mean I guess
based on some of the experiences that I had, and
part of me could see that that was probably true.
There were things that were asked of me that I

(14:08):
was absolutely not comfortable with, and I feel like I
was forced to play a role that was not me.
There would be certain looks that just made me feel different.
In cunning words, I guess you know, obviously he had
a side to him that I never knew anything about.

(14:31):
Did you see a side to him that you didn't expect? Yeah,
there was a very dominating side to him. Just some
of the physical quests they were foreign to me. Looking back,
I remember a couple of times where you know, he

(14:51):
would kind of put his hands around my throat and
pushed down. That kind of caught me off guard. Yeah,
he you had a lot of fantasies that he wanted
played out different things at different times, And I don't
really want to be very specific, but there was a

(15:12):
time where you know, yes, you know, I want you
to be this way when I come in. I just
didn't know anything about a lot of that, so I
didn't know how to be other than just comply. When
you think about Spence, what do you think of now
or how do you see him now? I don't know.

(15:33):
Part of me is angry at him for dragging me
through all of this. That's not to say that I
don't take for responsibility for my actions, but years later,
I still get very emotional about it and still have
so much guilt and shame and next thing, mad at him.

(15:55):
You have every right to be mad at him. I mean,
there's a person in the band that he has written
letters to asking if I'm okay, Like dot, don't ask
about me. I'm like, just don't leave me out of it.
You obviously take responsibility for your decisions, but in a way,

(16:16):
and I hope you're not offended by this word, but
I almost see you as a victim. Does that make sense?
I think so, I do, many years later. Why do
you think you still feel so bad about this? I mean,
I'm a Christian. I was raised to know right for wrong,

(16:39):
and I just feel like I let so many people down.
It's just my nature. I'm a people pleaser to a fault,
and I can't stand the thought of somebody being disappointed
in me, or to know that I've hurt someone deeply.
And I know at some point in my life I
have to forgive myself, but it's just really hard. Who

(17:01):
do you feel like is disappointed in you? Still obviously
the commander of the unit here, I've taken this pledge
to put honesty, integrity into service before self and I
failed at that. What is the shame? Where is that
coming from? Is it just having an affair and getting caught? No?

(17:27):
You know, I know a lot of people would think, oh,
you're just upset that you got caught. No. I truly
feel like a disgusting person that, knowing better, I allowed
myself to get wrapped up in that, and that I
didn't stop it. I should have. When you're around the
band members, now, what is that like for you? I

(17:50):
don't know who in the band knows who doesn't. I
assume that everyone does. But thankfully there's some genuinely good
people that realize people make mistakes. I was surprised at
the people that chose to write and communicate and that
until you, nobody has reached out to me to see
how I'm doing with all of it. You know, I'm

(18:12):
sorry no one's reached out to you. I can't believe
people in the unit have been writing dispense after everything
he's done. Another thing I've never really fully understood was
I got the standoffish figs. But then I know that
there were some that were very proactive in defending him,

(18:34):
and I was outcast. How could these people go and
defend somebody who did this to a child. Do you
ever get angry about that? I knew, Yeah, it just
stills unfair, you know, to how the commander of the
unit come into the band building dressed in a suit,
ready to go to headquarters to plead a case for

(18:57):
somebody to get an honorable discharge, and to not even
beat to me or be able to really look at me.
That's a really shitty thing to do. You're gonna waltz
in there and tell them what a great guy this
person is that's in prison for sexual assaults of a

(19:19):
student six counts, And I think that's the first time
I verbalized that to anybody. How that has made me feel,
especially specifically with people in the unit. Did you ever
think that there might be other women? No? I never.
That never crossed my mind, not to say that I

(19:41):
was something spectacular that he didn't want to go anywhere else.
But now I'm kind of curious, like, how extensive is
this or was I the only idiot out there that
fell for this? Besides the high school student? There were
many other women. Okay, I don't know how that makes

(20:02):
you feel. I don't mean to hurt you. No, I
don't think it is that. It's just I'm not the
only one that hurt you or that was hurt most
likely themselves. Have you ever thought about writing him a letter?
Yes and no. I've been given his address, and every

(20:23):
time and I thought about it, I was like, no,
I'm not ready. Like I first of all, I don't
want to give him the satisfaction of me reaching out
to him, And then what would I say. Maybe it
would feel good to write it and never send it,
but yeah, I've chosen not too. I wish I could

(20:43):
forget the whole thing. I was a person that I
don't recognize, and I don't I don't want to remember
that person. This is not the worst thing that has
ever happened in the world. And if we cannot learn
and crow from the bumps of life, yes, a good

(21:06):
way to look at it. You're getting married in two weeks.
I am you must be so excited. I feel a
lot better now that we've gotten through all of this.
I don't feel as afraid. I guess good and ma
fiance knows this situation. I think that's truly amazing that

(21:27):
he can know me at my lowest points and all
of the bad decisions and still find it, and it's
hard to love me. So I feel very undeserving of it,
but I'm very thankful for it. You shouldn't we all
deserve that. I mean, I think about it too. Am
I ever going to meet someone that is okay with
the fact that I was married to this guy who

(21:50):
got sent to prison? You know? I just I don't
want you living with this hanging over your head in
any way because it's over, you know, right, it was
like a different chapter, but you're about to embark on
a new chapter. Don't carry this in with it, okay.

(22:12):
I don't look at this situation like what a bitch.
I can't believe she had an affair. I look at
it as you were caught up in something that was
incredibly manipulative without knowing that somebody was being manipulative. Your

(22:38):
side of the story, I think is as important as mine.
If anybody's going to learn something from this, you know,
there's somebody else out there who feels shame about an
affair they had, you know. I mean, I appreciate how
comfortable you've made me feel. Remember this is not easy

(23:00):
for me, but you made me feel comfortable as well.
And congratulations again, thank you. I appreciate that, enjoy and
be happy. Do you think you can? I think I
can now I feel more that piece about it. I
think at this point I can at least try to

(23:21):
forgive myself and move forward, beat myself up over it
for the rest of my life, for a part of
my life that is no more. Well, I Hope you
know that I don't hold anger or bitterness towards you. Yeah,
thankful for that. I wanted to regroup with you on

(23:48):
something that Hope said because I found it really heartbreaking.
She mentioned that she was being snubbed by people in
the air or stand. Meanwhile, there are people in the
van that are going and speaking on Spence's behalf, and
that just felt so hypocritical. So after talking with Hope,

(24:16):
I feel for her. You know, she still holds so
much shame about what she did, and so me talking
to her, it was really nice to hear her side
of the story because I've read a lot of correspondence
between Hope and Spence, and that relationship is exactly what
I thought. It was him manipulating her, telling her he

(24:42):
loves her, and having her do things she's not comfortable with,
and you can just see it. Then when I hear
that everybody is snubbing her and making her to feel
like she's the bad guy here, and they go and
they defend Spence. It made me so mad. As soon

(25:05):
as I got off the phone, I called up one
of the leaders that was in this band. Great guy,
you know, this is part of our extended family. So
I felt comfortable calling him. But I confronted him and
I was upset and said, I heard that you guys
all went in and spoke up on Spence's behalf and

(25:29):
tried to say nice things about him, all in an
effort for an honorable discharge. Yeah. Yeah, he was really
honest about it, didn't get defensive, and he heard me
out and then he explained his side. The band is
like a family, for sure, and so they look after

(25:52):
one another. I didn't understand why they were looking after
Spence so much, though, but what he told me, everything
that they did is for the kids, for Spence's family,
so that they are not affected any more than they
already are. So like, if he has an honorable discharge,

(26:14):
then he'll still get a pension or something like that.
I think it's a financial thing, you know. They get benefits,
insurance and all sorts of stuff. Yeah, there's nuance to this, right.
So when he explained it that way, I did understand
their reasoning, and I want, hope to know that that's

(26:36):
the reasoning too. Maybe that'll help provide some context, and
I hope that they'll be a little bit nicer to her.
I hope. So what struck me the most from your
conversation was her willingness to own it all and be
very self aware of where she was in the time
of her life when she got involved with your ex husband.

(26:57):
It's so stripped down and honest, and I think a
lot of people can relate to decisions that you make
when you're not your best self or you don't have
the best faculties, like you know, self worth, and that
takes a tremendous amount of courage and vulnerability to be honest.
She was so brave and talking to me and doing this,

(27:18):
and I'm so glad she did, because yes, she made
mistakes and she made some poor choices. There is another
side though. She was preyed upon, and I think people
tend to prey on people and manipulate people who are
a little more vulnerable and do need and crave that attention.

(27:44):
Hopefully anybody hearing her story will realize, you know, no way,
I'm working more, I deserve better, and will realize that
the behavior that some of these people are portraying, it's
not okay. You talked to the high school student, talk

(28:05):
to Hope, and I know that part of this whole process,
You've wanted to have a face to face with Spencer.
Are you ready to get that ball rolling? Yeah? I
dread seeing Spence again, I really do, because I've not
seen him since the day he was arrested. But this

(28:27):
is about finding answers and having more clarity and understanding
about who he was and why he did this, and
so yeah, I have to sit down with him and
talk to him. He promised me he is totally willing

(28:47):
to talk with me and answer questions. You know, there
may be some he doesn't want to answer, but he agreed,
he said, totally willing to do this. So what we're
going to try and do is set up like a
formal one on one in the prison. Gosh, can you
imagine walking into that prison. That is going to be

(29:12):
one of the scariest moments of my life. Yeah, you know,
it's one thing just to talk to him from there,
but it would be another to walk in to this
prison that he's locked up in. Oh my gosh. I
can't wait to be done. I just want to have

(29:32):
one last conversation with him and then I can just
put this to bed. It's behind me. I don't ever
need to correspond with him again. And still to come
this season, Jennifer confront Spencer. The last time we talked,

(29:55):
you felt as if you were fine and cured, and
it has gone away. Hey, I still feel that way.
If you'd like to reach out to the Betrayal team,
email us at Betrayal pod at gmail dot com. That's
Betrayal po d at gmail dot com. Betrayal is a

(30:17):
production of Glass Podcasts, a division of Glass Entertainment Group,
in partnership with iHeart Podcasts. The show was executive produced
by Nancy Glass and Jennifer Fason, hosted and produced by
me Andrea Gunning, written and produced by Carry Hartman, also
produced by Ben Fetterman. Our iHeart team is Ali Perry
and Jessica Krinchek. Special thanks to voice actors Todd Gans

(30:39):
and Rocky y'all. Sound editing and mixing done by Matt Devechio.
Betrayal's theme was composed by Oliver Bain's music library provided
by my Music and For more podcasts from iHeart, visit
the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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