Here’s an interesting situation:
A widower who lost his wife to cancer was accused of being a paedophile by Travelodge staff because he booked a double room for him and his daughter.
Craig Darwell, 46, was taking Millie, 13, to visit Thorpe Park and was forced to book the double room in Chertsey, Surrey, because there were no others available.
But when he checked in, suspicious staff demanded that he show them his daughter’s ID.
Mr Darwell, who lost his wife to leukaemia when Millie was just four, explained that he did not have ID for his daughter and instead showed staff pictures of them together when she was a baby.
But even after seeing them, staff called the police and he and his daughter were forced into separate rooms and interviewed by a police officer.
Needless to say, the daughter was traumatized by the whole thing,
Here’s why I think this is an interesting situation. I know, hotels should MYOB and all that: the days of refusing to let rooms to unmarried couples and such are long past, and we have Moved On.
However: pedophilia is a crime after all, and the hotel staff has every right to be suspicious — they could be held culpable if they allowed a criminal act to be perpetrated on their premises when there was evidence that such a crime might be committed.
Where this hotel screwed up was involving the Filth (sorry, but it’s a Brit story) right from the get-go, instead of taking the father to one side, quietly explaining their concerns, and letting him have his say. The problem, of course, is that 13-year-olds don’t have ID, and proving paternity for a man (like this unfortunate guy) could be problematic. Nevertheless, having baby pics (as this guy did) is prima facie evidence, I think, that he’s just a proud dad and not Chester The Molester, and the hotel should have apologized and let the matter drop. I bet the guy would even have thanked them for their concern — I probably would have.
The reason that this story resonates with me is that it could quite easily have happened to me. Back when the Son&Heir was a youngin, we lived apart — I in New Jersey, and he with his mother in Chicago and later, Texas — and I used to fly down to spend weekends with him every month. And of course, we’d check into a local hotel as our base of operations. So had the above chain of events happened to me, it would have been unpleasant, to say the least, and proving my paternity equally problematic.
As I said, I can see the hotelier’s concern, but I am excoriating them for their insensitivity and clumsiness, and I am especially angry at the fucking police for treating this guy like a criminal when it was so obvious that he wasn’t. It’s a transparent case of bullying someone because you can, and not because it’s justified. The whole matter could have, and should have been handled discreetly and sensitively by both the hotel and the cops, but clearly, both sets of bureaucratic fools possessed neither characteristic.
Do you realize what would have happened to this man (and his daughter) had some bastard cop decided to arrest him? Court cases, legal fees, sex offenders list etc,. etc., etc. And don’t tell me that this couldn’t happen, because if we’ve come to learn anything in today’s 1984 society, it could.
I am generally loath to involve The Lawyers, and because this happened in Britishland, not much can be done because Britain. But these amateur Sherlocks need to get their pee-pees whacked, and this should be actionable, if for no other reason than that the man’s daughter was traumatized by their blundering actions — yeah, why not show concern for a young girl’s well-being post facto?
Grrr grrrrr grrrrrrr….