An Australia woman who posted a photo on Facebook branding a man as a "creep" for taking photos of her children has apologized after she discovered he was just taking a selfie in front of a Star Wars display to send to his own children.
In an interview with the Knox Leader newspaper, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, offered a tearful apology, saying she wishes she had never put the photo on the social media site. "I just need to say sorry... for not letting (the police) do their job, and putting my concerns on social media," she told the local paper. "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."
She said she has been trying to get in touch with the man to apologize personally to him and does not know if he plans to take legal action against her.
The man spoke to the Daily Mail Australia, also under the condition of anonymity. "I'm a father of three kids and a normal human being... I've never taken a selfie before," he said. "We're a very strong, community-minded family and we've never had any issue with any form of impropriety and all of a sudden my name is smeared."
The incident took place at a Target, where the man was shopping for a present for his partner. According to the woman's Facebook post, he had approached her children, took a photo, and said he was going to send it to a 16-year-old. She then snapped a picture of him, went to the police, and posted the photo on social media, alerting others to "take a look at this creep" and urging them to be safe with their kids.
After the post was shared thousands of times, a friend who had seen it alerted the man. "I was just flabbergasted at this stage that my photo is on Facebook with an allegation I've been speaking to children and taking children's photos," he told the Daily Mail Australia. He immediately went to the police department and explained that he was taking a selfie in front of a display of Darth Vader for his teenage and adult children, who are huge fans of the Star Wars series.
The police checked his phone and investigated his story. He said he had received death threats and is considering legal action against the woman.
The woman has reportedly also received death threats since making the false accusation.
She said she did not mean for the social media post to be shared so widely, mistakenly believing that her Facebook was on a private setting, and she said she deeply regrets posting the photo at all. "One thousand times over I wish I could just take it back," she told the Knox Leader. "I think the biggest lesson out of it all is not to post anything that could hurt anybody on any media."