In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the dangers of sex offenders, particularly predators who prey on children. Increased media coverage, legal acknowledgment and police attention on this horrifying subject have outraged many Americans.
However, despite the positive effects of this rise in awareness, there have been several mishaps along the way. When 46-year-old father and widow, Craig Darwell, arrived at a Travelodge hotel with his daughter, he was subjected to an indecent barrage of question culminating in police questioning. Mr. Darwell and his 13-year-old daughter, Millie, have been traveling since Mr. Darwell lost his wife to Leukemia.
When Mr. Darwell walked through the doors of the Travelodge after moving his car, an employee at the hotel began asking him questions about his daughter, including: ‘how he knew her’ and ‘who she was’.
When Mr. Darwell realized that the employees thought he was a pedophile, he was shocked, telling the New York Post that “I couldn’t believe it. Millie and I have stayed in lots of places over the years and this has never happened to me before. … It was bizarre and really offensive. Then he told me that he’d already called police so I had to wait for them to arrive.”
Mr. Darwell was forced to show the Travelodge employee photos of him and his daughter on Facebook after being told that the round of questioning was company policy. When the police arrived, it didn’t take long for them to realize what was happening with Mr. Darwell saying: “Luckily it took them about two seconds to realize he had got the wrong end of the stick, but it ruined the weekend for me.” While the experience was highly unpleasant for Mr. Darwell, he remains more concerned about the effect on his daughter, telling the Daily Mail: “The worst part was that she then had to go upstairs and question Millie on whether or not I was her dad. She was absolutely distraught.”
Mr. Darwell’s unpleasant experience is believed to be a part of a new initiative, known as Operation Makesafe, aimed at preventing child exploitation in hotels and other licensed premises. An investigation into the incident has been launched by Travelodge who responded to Mr. Darwell’s indignation with a statement saying: “We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously…Clearly fine judgements have to be made and we deeply regret any distress or inconvenience caused to Mr. Darwell on this occasion. We are undertaking a full investigation into the circumstances and will take careful note of any lessons learned in due course, including additional training where appropriate…”
Photo: Craig Darwell via Facebook