A Melbourne, Australia mom posted a warning to Facebook last week about a creepy man who, she believed, had taken a picture of her kids in the children’s clothing section of the local mall Target. She followed the man and took his photo, she said, and police and mall security were on the case.
Here’s her post, where she notes the “creep” said he planned to send the photo “to a 16-year-old.”
After this dire creeper alert went viral, it made it back to the man himself, and it turns out he wasn’t a predator or a “registered sex offender” at all. He was just a dad taking a selfie with a Darth Vader “May the 4th Be With You” display, and the 16-year-old he was going to send it to was one of his three kids.
“As I was walking out of Target I saw a very large Darth Vader cut out for taking photographs - it said ‘May the 4th be with you’ - and I’ve got three children and they love all that Comic-Con, Supernova, science fiction stuff. I said ‘I’ll only be a second, I’m taking a selfie to send to my kids.’ Obviously as I was going out this woman has stalked me and taken a photo of me.”
By the time he found about the Facebook post, it had been seen 20,000 times. He went down to the police station to explain what happened, and after taking a look at the photos on his phone, cops decided his story checked out.
“We would encourage anyone in a similar situation to contact police and report the matter as opposed to turning to social media,” said a spokesman for the local PD, the Knox Police Service.
“I just need to say sorry ... for not letting (the police) do their job, and putting my concerns on social media. My children are going through an enormous amount of pain (because of this) and I hate to think what (the man) and his family are going through.”
“I just don’t know how to say sorry enough.”
Both the man and the woman in the incident said they had received death threats.
Lawyers told the Knox Leader the dad has a solid case for defamation because the woman essentially called him a pedophile and identified him by posting his picture, but he says he doesn’t plan to sue.
“I don’t need or want people to be put in a worse position just to make me feel better,” he said.