Should people be told if a sex offender has moved into an area?
I want to ask you this today because of a shocking incident over the weekend.
A man who was mistakenly identified online as a known sex offender was involved in an altercation because of a picture that was published.
The news publication Kildare Now has issued an apology, after a photograph of a man mistakenly believed to be a sex offender was wrongly shared by a commenter on its Facebook page.
This led to an altercation between the innocent man and a number of locals in the Kildare town of Monasterevin.
The publication issued a clarification and apology on its site yesterday, explaining how the situation arose.
An article had been published, it said, based on “the concerns of parents in Monasterevin and elsewhere” that a convicted sex offender had been seen in the area.
When it posted the article to Facebook, a commenter posted a picture of a completely innocent person “who they believed looked like” this sex offender and “who was seen in Monasterevin”.
It also asked that no one share further images of the innocent person on social media platforms.
So basically this was a case of mob mentality and people deciding to take the law into their own hands. It resulted in a completely innocent man being set upon all because of social media.
Today I want to know if you think this situation gives more weight to the notion that telling people where a sex offender may or may not be living is a bad idea.
The man who was falsely identified wrote a post about it – I am not going to identify the man for obvious reasons – but in his post he said:
Hello to everyone in Monasterevin, County Kildare.
I'm the man you mistook for Anthony Luckwill (based on zero evidence except hearsay and now confirmed as innocent by Kildare Now)
I'm the innocent man who was treated to a prime example of mindless mob mentality on Friday 26th, a mob who twice ignored a Garda stating I was not Anthony Luckwill and refused any attempt I made to state my innocence, while producing no evidence when I repeatedly requested evidence. If you weren't in the mob physically, you helped create it by sharing slanderous and dangerous uncorroborated lies about my presence in Monasterevin last week.
Since I am confirmed as being not Anthony Luckwill, do any of you have even the simplest idea of who you branded a criminal and attempted to enforce unlawful 'justice' upon. Leave law enforcement and confirmation of identity (a legal right) to the Garda. You took it into your own hands yesterday and thanks to the presence of two Garda correct justice was enforced in spite of your mob and its enablers.
What do you think of his message – clearly this poor man’s life was turned upside down by a mob.
In his post the man says that law enforcement should be left to the Gardai – and he is right – which is the reason why people are not told if a sex offender moves near them.
Should it stay that way? Or do you still think people should have the right to know?
Maybe you think that people should have the right to know to protect themselves and their families.
But then again people will say that it simply leads to vigilantism and unfortunately in this case – an innocent man was the victim of the vigilantism.
Should people have the right to know that a sex offender has moved into their area?