'OK people, take a look at this creep!': Man who mum shamed on Facebook because she thought he was taking photos of her kids... was just taking a selfie in front of a Darth Vader display to show HIS children

Read more: Melbourne mum mistakenly shames man she thought was taking photos of her kids | Daily Mail Online

  • A woman has mistakenly labelled a man 'a creep' on social media
  • The mother, from Melbourne's east, believed he was taking picture of her children so she photographed him and posted his image to Facebook
  • The man eventually contacted police to explain he was taking a selfie
  • The father-of-three said he and his children were devastated by the ordeal

By Sarah Michael for Daily Mail Australia
Published: 13:07 EST, 8 May 2015 | Updated: 00:26 EST, 9 May 2015

A woman has mistakenly shamed a man on social media who she believed was taking photos of her children when he was actually taking a selfie next to a Star Wars display.
The mother took a photo of the man at the Westfield Knox shopping centre at Wantirna South, in Melbourne's east, and shared it to Facebook on Wednesday along with a status branding him a 'creep'.
Her post was then shared hundreds of times, until it was eventually seen by the man in question who contacted police to explain he was taking a selfie in front of a Darth Vader cut out to send to his children.
The father-of-three, who spoke to Daily Mail Australia on condition of anonymity, said he and his children were devastated by the ordeal.
'I'm a father of three kids and a normal human being... I've never taken a selfie before,' he said.

A father-of-three has been shamed on social media for taking a selfie after a woman mistakenly thought he was taking photos of her children

'I was in two minds whether to take the selfie, but I thought it'll be a good daggy dad joke.
'In real terms it was embarrassing enough to be standing in front of Darth Vader to be honest.'
The man said he was considering his legal options after the post had been shared 20,000 times and seen by friends, colleagues and family around Australia. He added that he had received death threats.
'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,' he said.

'I would like people to understand the perils of social media, especially unreliable and uncorroborated information.'
The man said he was in Target on Wednesday afternoon trying to find a present for his partner’s birthday.
‘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,’ he said.
The man said he took a quick selfie and saw a number of kids sitting down nearby and lining up to get their photo taken.
‘I said “I’ll only be a second, I’m taking a selfie to send to my kids.” There was no parent present.

The image of the father-of-three the woman posted on Facebook along with a status labelling him a 'creep'

‘I then started walking out of the shop and was trying to work out how to send the photo to my three children.
‘Obviously as I was going out this woman has stalked me and taken a photo of me.’
The next day he was in a business meeting when he received a panicked call from his partner.
‘My partner rang me and said she’d been contacted by somebody interstate who had seen the post and recognised me,' he said.
‘Then she explained it to me and 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 said he immediately drove to Knox Police Station to identify himself.
‘The police spoke to me at length in relation to the issue and my phone was analysed,’ he said.
He said the woman who made the post on social media had not apologised to him.

‘There’s been a number of apologies from some sharers which I really appreciated. The fact is they’ve made a mistake out of concern but in real terms it was not credible information,' he said.
'Once it's out there it can't be retracted... and the retraction post has only been viewed one-fiftieth of the times the original post was viewed.'
The woman's original Facebook post about the incident read: 'Ok people, take a look at this creep'.

Her post was then shared hundreds of times, until it was eventually seen by the man in question who contacted police to explain he was taking a selfie in front of a Star Wars display

She claimed the man approached her children while they were sitting watching Frozen on a screen in the children's clothing section at Target.
'He said 'hey kids' they looked up and he took a photo, then he said I'm sending this to a 16 yr old,' she wrote on Facebook.
The woman said she took a photo of the man then removed her children from the area and informed security.
'Centre management were straight onto and so are the police, hopefully he is caught [sic],' she wrote.

'Police said if he is a registered sex offender he will be charged, this happened at Knox, be safe with your kids.'
Detectives at the Knox Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) investigated the woman's claims and were eventually contacted by the man who explained the circumstances around his selfie.
A friend of the man said he has children, who have been incredibly hurt by the ordeal.
'The guy has a family and his own children, he sent the selfie to his children because he was being a daggy dad,' she said.

The incident took place in Target at the Westfield Knox shopping centre at Wantirna South, in Melbourne's east

'The only reason he was shopping was to buy his partner a birthday present. The selfie was an innocent joke between him and his kids because the new Star Wars is coming out and the fact that they love the movies.'
She added that his family appreciated that the original post had been taken down, but said the damage was already done and she called on the woman to apologise.
'No matter what happens in the future this man has been impacted by her actions - I bet the story of his innocence does not reach the numbers that her original post met - her sharing a public apology would go some way to ease the hurt that a whole of number of people are feeling as a result of this incident,' she said.
'There has been huge ramifications for a family and a man's reputation as a result of her post.'

Detective Acting Inspector Allan Price from the Knox Police Service Area said the mother was acting with the best intentions and is deeply apologetic, but added that the incident serves as a reminder of the dangers around social media and spreading inaccurate and alarming information.
'We would encourage anyone in a similar situation to contact police and report the matter as opposed to turning to social media,' he said.
'Members of the public must not believe everything they read on personal social media pages and refer to reliable sources for their information such as the Victoria Police Facebook page or Victoria Police News.'