A mother has organised to meet the man she shamed on social media face-to-face in an effort to apologise for her accusatory posts which claimed he had taken photos of her children when he was just taking a selfie.
The woman, who took a photo of the man at the Westfield Knox shopping centre in Melbourne's east and shared it on Facebook last Wednesday with a status branding him a "creep", made a grovelling public apology for the false allegations on Monday.
While the man told Daily Mail Australia that he was grateful for her effort, he confirmed that she had also requested to meet him at some point next week to apologise in person for her post, which was shared over 20,000 times and led him to receive death threats.
"It's going to be arranged for me to meet her personally where she can apologise face to face, but she wanted to at least put out an initial apology to start with, which I appreciate very much," the man, who had taken a selfie in front of a Darth Vader cut out sign to send to his children, told Daily Mail Australia.
"The meeting [is] to be arranged and confirmed by police later this week."
"I'm grateful she has acknowledged her mistake and error of judgement. I have no doubt it has been a very difficult situation for her, but it also has for me, so there had been no winners in this particular circumstance."
The father-of-three, who preferred to remain anonymous, said police had contacted the woman after he had voluntarily spoken to them about her allegations and had them investigated.
"The police spoke to her last Thursday and explained to her after they had investigated and also analysed my phone and questioned me," he said.
"They got to see the selfie which was time stamped as well the text to my children which was also time stamped.
"They then spoke to her and explained to her what had been uncovered from the investigation and she asked police to arrange a meeting with me where she'd like to apologise personally.
"I think it's a good opportunity for both of us for closure - I bare no malice towards her. In real terms, it's a learning experience for not just her and myself, but for society on the dangers of sharing unreliable information."
The woman told the Knox Leader that she had not been able to sleep since learning the truth, saying she was "stupid" to post the photo and admitting she had removed it as soon as she realised her mistake.
"It was never done with the intention of splashing it all over these social media pages," she said.
"My children are going through an enormous amount of pain and I hate to think what (the man) and his family are going through."
"One thousand times over I wish I could just take it back. I just don't know how to say sorry enough," she added.
The man stressed the importance of social media users only sharing information from reliable sources such as police or trustworthy news sources.
He described the incident as "cyber bullying" and said the woman's message "turned into a lynch mob vigilante approach" which devastated him and his children after it was seen by friends, colleagues and family around Australia.
"I'm surprised at the support I did get after the correct facts were established, however I was alarmed at the vilifications that she got for making the mistake - it got quite abusive for her as well," he said.
"There has been no more abuse or threats towards me. I appreciate the support and those who actually apologised: there were many thousands of sharers, some of whom have apologised, and I would encourage those who were good enough to share the accusatory post to share the apology post too - that would be a decent thing to do."
Last week, the man explained to Daily Mail Australia that he had been in a Target store on Wednesday afternoon trying to find a present for his partner's birthday.
"As I was walking out of Target I saw a very large Darth Vader cut out for taking photographs - it said 'May the 4th be with you' - and I've got three children and they love all that Comic-Con, Supernova, science fiction stuff," he said.
The man said he took a quick selfie and saw a number of kids sitting down nearby and lining up to get their photo taken.
"I said, "I'll only be a second, I'm taking a selfie to send to my kids." There was no parent present.
"I then started walking out of the shop and was trying to work out how to send the photo to my three children.
"Obviously as I was going out this woman has stalked me and taken a photo of me."
The next day he was in a business meeting when he received a panicked call from his partner.
"My partner rang me and said she'd been contacted by somebody interstate who had seen the post and recognised me," he said.
"Then she explained it to me and I was just flabbergasted at this stage that my photo is on Facebook with an allegation I've been speaking to children and taking children's photos."
He said he immediately drove to Knox Police Station to identify himself.
"The police spoke to me at length in relation to the issue and my phone was analysed," he said.
The woman's original Facebook post about the incident read: "Ok people, take a look at this creep."
She claimed the man approached her children while they were sitting watching Frozen on a screen in the children's clothing section at Target.
"He said 'hey kids' they looked up and he took a photo, then he said I'm sending this to a 16 yr old," she wrote on Facebook.
The woman said she took a photo of the man then removed her children from the area and informed security.
"Centre management were straight onto and so are the police, hopefully he is caught," she wrote.
"Police said if he is a registered sex offender he will be charged, this happened at Knox, be safe with your kids."
"We're a very strong, community-minded family and we've never had any issue with any form of impropriety and all of a sudden my name is smeared," the man told Daily Mail Australia last week.
"I'm a father of three kids and a normal human being... I've never taken a selfie before," he said.
"I was in two minds whether to take the selfie, but I thought it'll be a good daggy dad joke.
"In real terms it was embarrassing enough to be standing in front of Darth Vader to be honest."
- Daily Mail