Karl Pollard was taking his daughter to see her ailing grandmother when their trip took a bizarre and upsetting turn.Flickr CC/Elliott Brown
As Kidspot reports, the 46-year-old U.K. dad had traveled hours from his home to visit his mother in Cheshire. Karl’s mom had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and he wanted his 14-year-old daughter, Stephanie, to see her grandmother. Karl told the Daily Star:
“My mum has just been diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer. We’re not sure how long she has left. I wanted to take Stephanie down to visit her before she started treatment.”
Karl’s wife made a reservation for the pair at a budget hotel in the area. Because the Travelodge she picked had only a double room left, that’s what she booked.
After a four-hour train ride, the father and daughter arrived and checked in to their hotel. Karl said he noticed that the person at reception gave him a “weird look,” but he ignored it and went up to the room to unpack and freshen up.
He’d only been there for a few minutes when there was a knock at the door. Karl told the Daily Star he was stunned to find a policewoman waiting for him to answer:
“I thought something had happened to my mum or my wife. But she said, ‘We’ve had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a pedophile grooming underage girls.'”
Karl was separated from his daughter as the police interviewed them. Though he explained he was Stephanie’s father, they still had to answer a lot of questions in order to prove it. Though the police left after a short investigation, Karl told the Daily Star it left both him and his daughter shaken:
“My daughter was in tears. She was so scared — and thought I was going to get taken away.”
Having never encountered anything like this before, Karl was overwhelmed at the thought that a hotel staffer could have reported him for suspected pedophilia — all while on a trip to visit his sick mother. He told the Evening Times:
“I couldn’t believe it. It was an emotional trip already — but it was made so much worse. One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a pedophile.”
At the time, there was no reaction from the hotel, and Karl still paid about $200 for the room. Since then, however, the hotel has refunded his money. A spokesperson for Travelodge told the Daily Star:
“All our hotel teams are trained according to national guidelines […] In the past proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk. In this instance we got it wrong.”
The Cheshire police agreed that Travelodge staff had were correct to report their suspicions of Karl. The police told the Daily Star:
“Staff at the Travelodge did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity to officers, although thankfully there was nothing untoward and it turned out to be a misunderstanding.”
On Twitter, many agreed that it was better for the hotel staff to get it wrong than to ignore a possible instance of child abuse:
Karl Pollard should be extremely pleased that #Travelodge & it’s staff are #NSPCC trained. As a parent Travelodge and its staff should be commended for having the confidence to report their suspicions to the police.I sincerely hope thatTravelodge don’t discipline their employee. pic.twitter.com/kov60gJ57d
— Glinda (@30daysbrighter) February 19, 2018
Why go to the papers??? He should have been happy the hotel was thinking of his daughters welfare.
— MikeP (@mrmikepye) February 18, 2018
However, some disagreed, saying there needs to be a lot more grounds for suspicion before accusing someone of pedophilia:
This makes me sick! They dont understand how much lies and specualtion ruin and hurt people!
— Zoe (@Zoe2908) February 19, 2018
Just a sad indictment on society today, A Dad can’t show his love to his children without raising concerns.
— Audrey (@Audreys05) February 19, 2018
Karl remains deeply offended at how the hotel handled its concerns. He told the Daily Star:
“I was treated disgustingly. The worst was my daughter, she was just so distraught.”