Vietnam child abuser-turned-mother: Google never forgets my forgettable past

Nguyen Le Thien Ly became notorious countrywide after a video clip surfaced on the Internet in December 2013 which showed her attempting to drown a child in a water tank

Nguyen Le Thien Ly is pictured talking to Tuoi Tre Newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City.

A young woman infamously known for abusing a child at a daycare in 2013 claims to have turned over a new leaf following time behind bars, though Google’s endless memory is a constant reminder that the Internet may never recognize “the new me.”

Nguyen Le Thien Ly became notorious countrywide after a video clip surfaced on the Internet in December 2013 which showed her repeatedly hitting a toddler’s back before attempting to drown the child in a water tank.

Ly was 19 years old at the time of the incident and the scandal was immediately thrust into the media spotlight, with Ly and the owner of the daycare where the incident occurred tried in public court in January 2014.

The young woman was sentenced to 20 months behind bars and was later pardoned in September 2015.

Now, nearly four years after the scandal, Tuoi Tre (Youth) was able to sit down with Ly, now a 23-year-old woman in her 20th week of pregnancy.

Ly and her now-husband had only begun their romantic relationship a few months before the incident. Still, the man said he never lost faith in the girl he loves, believing that youth was the reason behind the abusive behavior.

One year after Ly’s release, “when we had both overcome our challenges,” he said, the couple tied the knot.

“My friends said it was insane of me to marry a girl who is cruel with children, but I am the only one who knows who she really is,” the husband said.

‘I have survived’

Ly said she will never forget the day police officers stormed her house with an arrest warrant, and that she “remained emotionless until the door of my cell was shut.”

“When all my feelings returned, I finally started crying.”

The young woman also said she can’t forget the first time she was besieged by media or her first court appearance in front of thousands of eyes.

“I couldn’t say anything, even to defend myself.  I couldn’t even look at my parents,” she recalled.

“All I could do was extending my apologies to the toddler’s family.”

Ly chose not to file an appeal after hearing the verdict. Upon her release, she took to Facebook and read a groundswell of criticism and insults directed at her.

“I was frightened and couldn’t help but cry after seeing I had been cursed by thousands of people for what I did. That is the price I had to pay,” she said.

Nguyen Le Thien Ly
Nguyen Le Thien Ly

Four years on, asked if she has completely overcome shock, Ly said it is wrong to say she has forgotten everything or that she is filled with serenity.

“But somehow I feel that I have survived the aftermath of a dark period in my life.”

Ly said learning how to “think before acting” and how to control her emotions during the 20 months she spent in prison has made her “more grown-up compared to the 19-year-old me.”

“I had only been working at the daycare for a few months, so I had neither enough experience nor patience to withstand the pressure cooking three meals a day and feeding dozens of kids,” she said.

Ly said kids are adorable when they behave properly, but dealing with stubborn children is rather difficult.

“I lost my temper and control and did the wrong thing,” Ly said. “I was not myself when I did that and my actions don’t truly reflect my love for children.”

The ex-babysitter said she couldn’t believe it was her beating the child when she was showed the video clip after her arrest.

“I had to face rage from parents across the country for the anger I showed towards the kids,” she said.

“I know I deserved my penalty.”

Turning over a new leaf

Ly said she does not hate those who hate her.

“They were right to feel angry with me and hate me,” she said.

“If I were the mother of that abused girl, I would have reacted the same way.”

She said she would never deny that she made a mistake, but it does not necessarily mean that “I will be a bad person for the rest of my life.”

“I am becoming a mother and I have to be a good mom,” she said.

“I know I have to try harder to receive sympathy and forgiveness from more people.”

Nguyen Le Thien Ly and her husband
Nguyen Le Thien Ly and her husband

Ly cites the support and encouraging comments she occasionally finds hidden in the groundswell of hate towards her on the Internet as her motivation to bounce back after the incident.

Most importantly, though, the biggest anchor for her throughout the storm was her family, her beloved husband, and her friends.

“They stayed with me, loved me, trusted me, and encouraged me to overcome my problems and remember who I am,” she said.

Ly said she does not hope people will forget her mistake, but that they will forgive her.

“I hope people who know my story will not think that I am an ‘evil babysitter,’ as labeled by some people,” she said.

“I have to be who I am and turn a new page in my life.”

Even so, Ly said she still frets over two things – being a babysitter and online comments.

“I am going to babysit my own child and hopefully I can feed him better than before,” she said with a smile.

As for the negative internet comments, Ly said the worst thing is that they will stay there forever, “even though I am a new person and the commentors may already have forgotten what they wrote.”

She underlined that she agreed to an interview with Tuoi Tre because she wanted to tell the country that she is no longer the ‘evil babysitter’ in the December 2013 video.

“People once said that I am no longer human but I want to tell them through this interview that they’re wrong,” she said.

“I am a human. I made mistakes. I paid the price. I deserve forgiveness.”

Ly ended her talk with Tuoi Tre by reiterating that her life has returned to normal.

“It’s only Google that refuses to recognize the new me.”

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