A man and devoted father decided to visit his sick mother. As a result, he was accused of being a pedophile.
Karl Pollard, 46, traveled four hours via train from South Wales—where he lives—to Macclesfield, Cheshire. Joining him was Stephanie, his daughter who is 14 years old.
Karl’s mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer recently, so her son and her granddaughter decided to pay her a visit before she started treatment for the disease. Karl said he is not sure how much longer his mom has. He wanted Stephanie to see his mother before the treatment began.
Dad accused of being a paedophile after checking into a Travelodge his daughter https://t.co/WF1J7bsCUB
— The Sun (@TheSun) February 18, 2018
The son and granddaughter decided to stay 20 minutes away from her location at a Travelodge. He chose it specifically because it was only a 20-minute walk.
Karl reserved a double bedroom for himself and his daughter—it was the only room available.
It is perhaps worth noting that Karl is married; his wife Kim, 45, has multiple sclerosis.
Karl apparently received something of a “weird look” from the hotel’s receptionist upon his arrival at the hotel, but Karl did not suspect there was any sort of issue.
It was when the father-daughter duo started to unpack that things started to get unfortunate. About 10 minutes after checking into their room, there was a knock on the door. A policewoman was there, and Karl was worried that something had happened to either his mother or his wife.
Their hotel room was raided by law enforcement. Hotel staff had called police because they were concerned that Karl was a pedophile who was sharing the room with an underage girl. The term used was “grooming”. They thought he was “grooming” underage girls.
Karl clearly could not believe what was transpiring. As he put it, the trip was emotional enough already, but the visit from law enforcement made it a whole lot worse.
He said that one minute he was brushing his teeth, and the next he was being accused of pedophilia.
To make matters worse, Stephanie was questioned, and she had to answer several questions in order to prove that Karl was indeed her father. Soon enough, police dropped the whole matter. However, Karl claims that his daughter was left traumatized by the experience.
According to Karl, his daughter was in tears. Not only was she scared, but Karl thought he might get taken away.
A spokesperson for Travelodge said that all of their hotel teams receive training that is in accordance with national guidelines. The spokesperson stated that the training has—in the past—helped protect young people who were at risk, but admitted that the staff got it wrong in this particular instance.
Cheshire Police put out a statement—it said that they showed up at 3 in the afternoon on February 8th because of a report of “suspicious activity” at the hotel in Macclesfield.
The police stated that the staff at the hotel did the right thing by reporting their suspicions to law enforcement, but it fortunately turned out to be nothing problematic—and was merely a simple misunderstanding.
Better safe than sorry
— crowfather (@crowfather1) February 18, 2018
To make matters worse, that visit to the hotel he was only at because his mother was ill—the one during which he was accused of being a pedophile—cost Karl about 150 pounds. At first, he was not offered a refund, although the hotel’s spokesperson has since offered apologies and refunded his money.
This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Last year, in Surrey, a Travelodge asked a father named Craig to prove he was the father of his 13-year-old daughter after he was accused of being a pedophile.
It would be easy to be extremely critical of Travelodge; after all, they did read the situation entirely wrong in the case of Karl and Stephanie. Fathers should be allowed to travel with their teenage daughters.
That said, pedophilia is a serious issue and needs to be taken very seriously. Recent figures suggest there were more than 20,000 cases of pedophilia yearly in the United Kingdom, and those figures do not include cases involving 16 and 17-year-old victims.
Because many crimes go unreported, the actual number is probably significantly higher.
While parents often warn their children to stay away from strangers—which is probably a good idea, certainly—the fact of the matter is that the abuser is known to the victim in the vast majority of pedophilia cases. Statistically, strangers are actually less of a threat.