A same-sex couple from West Sussex have been left terrified for their lives after they were falsely accused of molesting underage girls by a group of paedophile hunters.
Ben, 31, and Jordan, 25, had been visiting relatives in Hull on Monday, November 4, when they were confronted by a group of around 10 to 15 people.
The couple were dragged from their vehicle and subjected to verbal abuse and false accusations, with the assailants shouting, ‘we know what you’ve done’. At the time of the incident, neither Ben or Jordan knew what was going on.
Footage of the horrifying incident was shared via a Facebook live stream, by the vigilante ‘paedophile hunter’ group Yorkshire Child Protectors (YCP), where it was viewed over 30,000 times.
After the incident, Ben and Jordan had to endure being arrested and kept in cells for 22 hours before officers realised they were innocent of the accusations made against them, as Hull Live reports.
Opening up about the traumatic experience, Ben said:
I thought they were going to try and steal the car. They were saying, ‘we know what you’ve done’ and I tried to call the police and they took our phones off us.
They were just flashing their phones at us and videoing it. They dragged Jordan out from the car. They took us a bit further down the road and put us in a corner out of the way.
I was just scared and didn’t know what was happening. I was hysterical and trying to remain calm but it was hard because they kept telling us to face what we had done.
The couple later found out the group had accused them of having ‘molested girls’, believing they were the individuals messaging a decoy posing as a young girl.
Ben and Jordan have now had their names cleared, and the YCP – who have since removed the video – have issued a public apology through their Facebook page.
In a statement, a representative for the group explained they had been given ‘intel’ by a family member, which they apparently had ‘no reason not to believe’.
The statement went on to claim the group will be willing to take responsibility for their part in the wrongful arrest of Ben and Jordan, but ‘won’t be taking all the blame’:
We are heartbroken for these two men and I will personally be sending them a message with a sorry that we messed up on our part.
However, for Ben and Jordan, an apology cannot undo the damage which has already been done. The ordeal has understandably had a devastating impact on the two men, who remain fearful for their safety even after clearing their names.
Ben explained how the vigilantes had ‘absolutely ruined’ their lives:
We are scared for our lives, they have absolutely ruined our lives. They’ve taken the video down but a lot of people have seen it and although we’ve been cleared, people have seen that video and might take it upon themselves to do something.
Ben and Jordan are now considering taking legal action against YCP, according to Metro.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday, Or email [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.