An Australian man has been ordered to pay $114,000 to the motel owner whose life he wrecked with a single post on Facebook. Kenneth Rothe, a 74-year-old motel owner and former deputy school principal, was threatened repeatedly and beaten so badly he spent six months in the hospital after electrician David Scott falsely accused him of renting accommodation to pedophiles, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. "Pedophile warning:- Nambucca has been used as a relocation for these monsters – blue dolphin –nirvana hotel and above the Indian restaurant! …Bus stops are right out front of theses hotels for our children?" Scott posted in 2014. He was not accused of the threats or the assault.
Rothe—who owned the Blue Dolphin Motel and Nirvana Village Motel in Nambucca Heads, around 300 miles north of Sydney—said he sometimes offered crisis accommodation after family disputes, but never made a deal to house pedophiles or other ex-prisoners. He said he begged Scott to retract the post, but he never did. The Facebook attack was "made on him out of the blue, with no prior inquiry of any kind by any person," said the judge. The internet can be a "dangerous tool in the hands of persons who see themselves as caped crusaders or whistleblowers," he warned. In court, Scott unsuccessfully argued that it was his duty as a father to warn the public of potential dangers. (Read more Facebook stories.)