A man attempting to help a lost child mistakenly became the bad guy when the parents thought he was a child predator. The incident happened at the Southwest Sports Complex in Lakeland, Florida. The man found the child walking around during the game, which he had attended with friends. He believed that she was lost and began walking with her to find her parents. The man walked around with the child to see if she would point them out but the situation got out of control when other citizens alerted the parents.
The people who watched the man walk around with the girl thought he was planning to kidnap her. He walked toward a playground with her and people began alerting the parents. Three men found him walking with the girl and he ended up becoming the victim as he was punched. One of the three men was the girl’s father, who told WFLA that he punched the man several times.
The man was visiting friends at the game and after an investigation, police confirmed that he had no criminal history. Police interviewed witnesses and found that the man had not committed any crime. The man, who was punched by the girl’s father, declined to have charges filed against him.
The worst part for the man may have been what happened after the incident was over. Family and friends of the child went on social media to warn others about him. They shared photos of him and his business on Facebook. He was called a child predator, which led to the police releasing a warning about posting inaccurate information. Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross spoke about the posts that were made about the man and warned others about posting information without knowing. He explained that posting false information on social media can cause a defamation of character claim.