Skip to content
Jobs | Contact | Tip line: 705-673-0123

Man victim of online vigilantes after being confused with child porn suspect

Online comments vilify innocent man; Greater Sudbury Police call on public to be careful
0
150619_KF_keyboard_sized
Online vigilantes have been attacking a Greater Sudbury man whose only offence is having the same name as a child porn suspect. (File)

Online vigilantes have been attacking a Greater Sudbury man whose only offence is having the same name as a child porn suspect.

Richard Godin, 27, realized something was wrong Thursday not long after Greater Sudbury Police announced that another Richard Godin, 35, had been arrested and charged with child porn offences.

At that point, some people began scouring social media looking for the suspect, and came across the innocent Richard Godin's Facebook and Linkedin profiles, and began publishing links and screenshots claiming he was the person arrested. 

“Somebody had mentioned to me there was a story, something about somebody getting charged with child porn,” Godin said Friday. “Then in the comments, they posted my name and then there was some bad stuff that was said.”

While Sudbury.com's policy is to not identify suspects in criminal cases unless we plan to follow the case through the court system, commenters under the story and on social media began linking Godin incorrectly to the arrest.

He was working when the real suspect was in bail court this week, Godin said, and he has reached out to people he knows and his employer to ensure there's no confusion.

“No one's threatened my life or anything,” he said of the messages he's received, but there have been lots of ugly comments and accusations.

Longer term, he's worried that when people Google his name – say if he's applying for a job – he'll end up being associated with the case. 

“They Google my name, they see the story  and then they see my Facebook profile and my Linkedin account,” he said. “So now everybody who looks up that story, they'll automatically assume that it's me and not anybody else.”

Godin has since increased the privacy settings on his social media because of the attacks, but that's difficult, he says, because his job requires him to have an open – and positive – social media presence.

He said it's maddening to have to do so much damage control – including going public to clear his name – when he has done nothing wrong.

“I had to explain myself to my work, to my colleagues, to my family and friends,” Godin said. “And I didn't do anything wrong. I'm not the one ... And especially since I'm in the information technology field, it's really important  to keep up a strong social media presence.”

No more updates on the case are expected until the court process begins, when he hopes the coverage will offer more detail about the real suspect, so people will no longer confuse them. The wait will be difficult, Godin said.

“It could be three months, it be could be forever until it actually goes through the courts,” he said. “But until that point, everybody, when they search my name, they're going to see that media release.”

He has friends and colleagues who have been approached by people and asked whether the Godin they know is the one facing child porn charges.

“So I have to try to make everybody aware it wasn't me,” Godin said. me. “Should I have to deal with that? No, I shouldn't but that's (the reality) because my name is associated with someone (accused of) some horrendous act.”

Early Friday evening, police released a statement cautioning the public not to jump to conclusions about the identity of people under arrest.

“Social media is a wonderful tool that allows us to connect directly with our community, as well as, those outside of our city limits,” the statement said. “It also provides individuals with the opportunity to connect directly with others through a computer or smart device.

“Please remember to be respectful in your communications with others and that community members may share the same name as someone who has been charged by police named and in a media release.”

@darrenmacd




Comments


Darren MacDonald

About the Author: Darren MacDonald

Read more