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Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000

Vigilantes attack wrong house

August 31, 2000

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— Vigilantes vandalized the home of a prominent children's doctor in Wales, apparently after confusing her title of pediatrician with "pedophile," police said Wednesday.

Dr. Yvette Cloete, a specialist in pediatric medicine at the Royal Gwent Hospital, fled her home after her windows and front door were spray-painted with the word "paedo" -- an abbreviation for the British spelling "paedophile," said Karl Close, chief inspector with the Gwent Police.

"Are they just so dull they don't realize the difference between the two?" Close said of the attack, which took place Saturday. "This is a pediatrician who is committed to helping children and somebody targeted her."

Britain has seen a rash of vigilante attacks -- most against victims of mistaken identity -- since The News of the World tabloid published pictures of sex offenders this summer. Across Britain, several people who shared surnames with alleged offenders named by the paper also have had their homes attacked.

The country has been obsessed with the subject of pedophiles since July, when the naked body of an 8-year-old girl was discovered in a south England field, two weeks after she disappeared while playing outside.

Cloete said she has moved into a friend's home and did not plan to return to the rented house, where she lived with her 24-year-old brother.

"It is just unbelievable," she said Wednesday. "It is terrible that people think that they have the right to vandalize your property like this no matter what you have done."

"You think that your home is a place to go to be safe, so it is a shock when something like this happens," Cloete said. "I suppose I'm really a victim of ignorance."

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