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Man Falsely Accused of Kidnapping Labeled as Child Predator Online

Posted by Josh Valentine | Jul 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Anyone who has access to the internet and media news outlets has heard horror stories that involve innocent, law abiding citizens who are accused of crimes they didn't commit. In some cases, these unlucky individuals are arrested, convicted and jailed for these offenses, without any substantial evidence of them committing a crime. This miscarriage of justice plagues large numbers of people every year, resulting in hundreds of exonerations each year. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 2016 set a record high for exonerations in the United States. The summary concluded that nearly 166 innocent people had been exonerated for crimes they didn't commit in the country. And these weren't just petty crimes that resulted in minimal jail time, there were cases involving homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping and violent crimes.

Even in cases when a person is not punished by the criminal justice for false accusations, there are dire consequences. Reputations are tainted and people are unable to go about their daily lives without being associated with a crime they did not commit. A man in Florida experienced this reality when he attempted to help a toddler find her parents. The innocent man, who understandably does not wish to disclose his identity, was falsely labeled as a kidnapper all over social media and misidentified by local law enforcement authorities.

According to Florida police, the man was visiting his friends at a softball game when he noticed a 2-year-old girl by herself. In the police statement, the man stated that he believed she was lost, and “walked with her in hopes she could point them out.” Several witnesses confirmed that the man was concerned about where the child's parents were. As the two walked towards the playground, the toddler's father and two of his acquaintances approached the pair from behind. One man grabbed the girl, while the child's father proceeded to punch the man multiple times. He thought the man was attempting to kidnap his daughter. When the man tried to explain that he was merely looking for the child's parents, the parents weren't buying it.

Soon after the incident, family members, friends, media outlets and even police went on social media and shared the man's photo, his personal Facebook profile and his place of employment. Many of the comments on the postings called the man a “child predator” and a “kidnapper.” However, after a thorough investigation and several witness accounts, the police concluded that he was genuinely trying to find the child's parents. Authorities even labeled the man a “good Samaritan” in their statement. They claim that only person out of the many that shared the posts called the department to obtain the correct information. One Facebook user says they regret sharing a post with false information.

“I was one of those who shared the post thinking it was helpful, now I feel awful that it was clearly not! Definitely teaches me to double check sources before spreading,” they said.

But unfortunately, the damage was already done. The false accusations propelled the man to leave town with his family for their safety. And even though the father's actions technically constitute libel, he has decided not to press charges against him.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you have been falsely accused of a crime, you should immediately consult with an attorney. Contact Caulder & Valentine today for a consultation

About the Author

Josh Valentine

All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person that was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer.  So that's why I became an attorney.  I understand what you are going through—and I'm here to help you.  Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life. Before attending law school, I worked for a law firm focused on record clearing services, including expungements, pardons, and motions for appropriate relief.  The vast experience and understanding of North Carolina's expungement laws that I have acquired has given me an advantage in defending criminal charges, because not only do I fight for the best possible outcome in your case, but I am also continually conscious of the long term effects that a criminal charge or conviction can have on a person's life.  As such, I will do whatever I can to insure that my clients will not end up with a criminal record.  I was born in New London, Connecticut, but spent the first few years of my life in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Rutherfordton, North Carolina in 2001.  Upon graduating from high school, I attended Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where I majored in Accounting.  Eager to finish school, I began law school at Charlotte School of Law the day of my graduation from GWU, and completed my law degree in two years (instead of the typical three). During law school, I studied hard and strived to acquire the most experience possible so that I would be practice ready upon graduation.  The opportunities I gained included prosecuting criminal defendants through an externship with the Burke County District Attorney's Office, defending criminal defendants through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic, and interning with Farmer & Morris, PLLC. I am blessed with a beautiful wife, Gabrielle Valentine, who is an attorney at Farmer & Morris, PLLC, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.  In my free time, I enjoy helping with the youth group in my church, playing basketball and softball in our local church leagues, serving in the prison ministry, and spending time with my family.  Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar


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