Innocent Kerry man targeted in online paedophile branding
A NORTH Kerry man has been left shocked and deeply distressed after being falsely accused on an online vigilante group’s Facebook page of secretly photographing young girls.
His picture was published alongside the unfounded allegation online last week.
The photograph of the man - who has never been accused or suspected of involvement in crime of any kind - was posted online on the group’s Facebook page in what one legal expert and politician has described as ‘reckless’ behaviour.
On the page a number of serious but entirely unproven and unsupported allegations were made against the man, claiming he had been following girls and filming them with his phone.
The photo accompanying the claims was taken in a north Kerry shop as the innocent and unsuspecting man went about his daily life.
The family of the man at the centre of the false allegations say they are very worried for him and that he remains ‘very distressed’ following the appearance of his image online.
“He is very, very distressed about the whole thing. This is absolutely scandalous behaviour.
“It is desperate that people can’t be held to account for posting someone’s image with the heinous allegation without a shred of evidence,” they said.
“My brother wouldn’t hurt a fly, he has never been in trouble in his life.
“The saddest thing for us is that a certain amount of people are going to believe this, that’s the sad reality,” the family member told The Kerryman on Tuesday.
“We are trying to get the post taken down but it is very hard to do so.”
The man - who does not actually have a smartphone or use social media - made a complaint to gardaí after he was informed last week that his image was circulating online.
He showed gardaí his phone, described as ‘an antique’, in the course of making his complaint.
Gardaí are now investigating the appearance of the allegation online.
They told The Kerryman they believe the victim of the smear campaign is “entirely innocent” of the allegation.
The man and his family have also complained the matter to Facebook, on which the claims were originally made. Garvey’s SuperValu in Listowel also addressed the issue on their Facebook page:
“We have been made aware in recent days of photos circulating in social media apparently taken in our store in Listowel.
“We want to completely distance ourselves from this post and its content regarding a valued customer of ours,” the company said in the statement.
Meanwhile Tralee Sinn Féin Councillor Pa Daly has condemned the anonymous online attack. “We are entering into dangerous territory when people share reckless information without evidence or fact.”
It is thought that the person behind the posts on the online vigilante group is using a fake profile to share this incorrect information.
Cllr Daly also condemned people who have shared the post without any proper evidence.
“This is irresponsible and dangerous. Some innocent person is going to get assaulted or worse because of a result of reckless posting and reckless sharing.” He said he had also spoken with the family of the man involved who are “upset” about the allegations made online.