Feature | The Face of Child Porn: Gina Zhdilkov thought her family was safe from the child porn that ruined her childhood. Then the FBI investigated her husband. | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Feature | The Face of Child Porn: Gina Zhdilkov thought her family was safe from the child porn that ruined her childhood. Then the FBI investigated her husband.

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Before Zhdilkov, then-40 year old Greer, according to his attorney, Jerome Mooney, had never had an adult relationship. “In reality, he should never have got involved with her in the first place,” Mooney says.

That’s a sentiment Zhdilkov undoubtedly now shares. But not back in 1994. Then, for the first time in her life, she felt safe. That sense of security, combined with the death of her mother from a stroke, brought an avalanche of memories of her father’s abuse. Greer went with Zhdilkov to therapy with a local psychologist, Thomas G. Harrison. For the first year, she couldn’t bring herself to look at Harrison. In the voice of a child, she would whisper to Greer to tell Harrison the depravities her father had inflicted upon her.

At first she was terrified she would lose Greer. But each time she said something about her past, Greer would hold her and tell her how sorry he was for what had happened. “I loved him so much, you can’t imagine,” she says.

GHOST MOM

Zhdilkov graduated with her masters degree on June 10, 1994. She married Greer the next day. Her twins sang a wedding song a cappella, and her youngest child was the ring bearer. “It was the most beautiful day of my life,” she says in tears. They bought a fixer-upper on Princeton Avenue, in the 9th and 9th district of Salt Lake City.

For the first time in Zhdilkov’s life, love and sex came together. As she grew psychologically and emotionally healthier, she left behind the damaged child who had turned to Greer for comfort so often. It was then, she says, her husband pulled away. “The problem was he wasn’t comfortable with me anymore,” she says. “I didn’t get it.”

After her discovery of her father’s photographs and his subsequent death a few months later, Zhdilkov struggled to keep her life together. “I was determined my father wasn’t going to reach out from the grave and ruin everything I had worked so hard for, my life with my husband and my daughters. I just wanted to raise this happy family so bad.”

Try as she might, though, the horror of what Greer had found in her father’s closet slowly consumed her. She couldn’t sleep without getting drunk first. She had nightmares, constantly shook, and after a year, had to give up work as a therapist for sexually abused children and their families at Valley Mental Health. She found herself spacing out into nothingness, believing she was nothing more than “nuclear fallout.” Her mother had gone through similar spells where she would abruptly sit in a chair and mentally disappear. “She was all I had, and I would try harder and say, ‘Please let me in, please let me in,’ and she was just like a zombie,” Zhdilkov says.

All Zhdilkov thought she could do to help everybody was “to move on, instead of having this ghost mom who’s there but not really there.” A year after finding the pictures, she tried to kill herself with tranquilizers and alcohol. Instead of stopping her pain from leaking “all over my house and my kids,” her suicide attempt made things “infinitely worse,” she says in a tiny voice.

After a week in a psychiatric institute and treatment for substance abuse, Zhdilkov began the long path to recovery. Her children are now adults, living their separate lives.

THE ENEMY BESIDE YOU

Greer and Zhdilkov separated in September 2003, when, she says, she learned he’d been lying about finances, including taking out numerous substantial loans and failing to file his taxes for five years. A year and a half later, they got back together. On June 29, 2006, Zhdilkov left work to find her husband home uncharacteristically early. “You won’t believe the day I’ve had,” he told her.

The FBI had interrogated him about a Seattle-based business associate being investigated for securities fraud and had carted off computers from his office. The bombshell was yet to come. “You better sit down now because there’s something I need to tell you that may or may not end our marriage,” she recalls him calmly informing her.

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During the FBI interview, he had denied having any child porn on his home or work computers. Later that day, he changed his mind. He voluntarily handed over to the FBI four discs of child pornography he had at the office. He told his stunned wife he had downloaded it from the Internet while they were separated because he was depressed.

Zhdilkov drove to one of her daughters’ homes. Her son-in-law told her, “You can’t stay married to him, can you?”

She returned home to find a note on the table from Greer. The FBI had more questions for him. “I should be back in a couple of hours. I sincerely regret the pictures. Love, Roger.”

Her closest friend, special-education teacher in Davis and Salt Lake county schools, Beth Mazur, was driving when her cell phone rang. A voice like a child crying for help called out her name on the phone. Mazur found Zhdilkov in a rocking chair. She said she had thrown Greer out of the house. If Zhdilkov had had a gun that day—as she says she does now—she would have shot him. “This was the enemy in my house, the enemy of everything,” she says. “He had to go at all costs.”

Mazur took Zhdilkov home. All night long Zhdilkov lay in Mazur’s bed with her, sobbing, in the fetal position. “It was like the whole world had broke,” Mazur says.

Zhdilkov believes her ex-husband, whom she divorced after a messy yearlong battle in 2007, from the beginning of their marriage was collecting images of child sexual exploitation. As a social worker, Mazur says, Zhdilkov knew all the signs to look for when it came to identifying a child-porn addict. The problem was, given Greer’s five years of volunteer work at the rape crisis center, so did he. “And he hid them,” Mazur says.

One dark question Zhdilkov and Mazur sought to answer was whether Greer had molested any of their four daughters. For two years Greer picked up Mazur’s pre-adolescent daughter from school, claiming he wanted to protect her from child molesters. All four girls, Zhdilkov says, denied anything took place. While Zhdilkov is convinced Greer is a pedophile, federal court documents state, “Though Mr. Greer does not have a diagnosis of pedophilia, the large quantity [of child-porn images] he possessed seems to contradict any contentions that he did not have a strong interest in this subject matter.” For 10 years after his anticipated release in 2010, Greer will be on the sex offenders’ registry.