What Would You Do? Parents' Worst Nightmare

It's one of the most unbearably thorny questions a parent ever faces -- what would you do if it happened to your child?

On Wednesday, Connecticut attorney Jonathon Edington, 29, was charged with first degree murder for allegedly stabbing his neighbor to death after his wife told him that the man had molested their 2-year-old daughter, according to Edington's bond attorney, Mickey Sherman.

Edington was released on a $1 million bond -- a rare move in a capital murder case, experts said.

The family of the victim, Barry James, 58, released a statement Thursday vigorously denying the abuse charges.

Still, the arrest made headlines across the country and reawakened the national debate on child sexual abuse and vigilante justice.

Nearly 85,000 children were sexually abused in the United States in 2004, the most recent statistics available, according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.

To gain a better understanding of what parents go through when this happens to their child, ABC News' Law & Justice Unit spoke with seven families about the horror of learning their child had been sexually molested, and the subsequent struggle with sometimes burning desires for immediate relief.

'Worse Than Murder'

"Did he kill the guy?" said Bill Wruck of Brooksville, Fla., whose 11-year-old daughter, Tonya, was molested over a period of months while baby-sitting for a family friend in the early 1990s.

"Good," he said. "That's how I feel about it."

Wruck's wife, Cathy, described in vivid detail the day that she said forever changed their lives, when they learned of their daughter's abuse and her husband nearly ended up in a situation like that of Edington's alleged crime.

"After dealing with it for a couple days, my husband snapped," she said to ABC News.

"There's so many things I can't remember about that time, but I remember that moment. I could see it in his eyes," she said.

"He snapped and grabbed one of his hunting rifles and got into his truck and he left skid marks down the driveway and down the road. And he is a responsible man. He doesn't drive like that."

"He said he was going to kill him. I stood there and thought 'He's going to kill him and go to jail and my daughter's just been molested and I'm going to lose everything,'" she said. "And I just stood there in the driveway, thinking, 'Oh, my God.'"

"I went into the garage -- and we don't drink -- and I took a bottle of whiskey we keep there and sat in there and just drank myself to oblivion."

Cathy's husband went to the man's house, but he wasn't home.

"I just drove around and around, and eventually came to my senses," Bill Wruck said. "If he had been home, my life -- our life -- would have been changed forever."

Molesting a child is "worse than murder," said Sherri Courtney of Bryan, Ohio. "It's a violation of an innocence."

Courtney's 15 year-old daughter was raped by her ex-husband, who is now serving a nine-year prison sentence for the crime.

"My biggest problem was guilt," said another parent, Dawn Toro. "Because I'm the mom! These kids resided in my womb for nine months! How did I not know?"

Visceral Rage

"I can't think of a crime that evokes a more visceral rage," said Manhattan lawyer Michael Dowd, widely credited with pioneering the "battered wife syndrome" criminal defense in the early 1980s.

"You want to scare me?" Dowd said, referring to Edington. "Ask me to live in his shoes for a couple minutes."

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