Imagine being mistaken for a suspected child molester because you have the same name as the person who was arrested.
That has been the case for a local business owner who works with children. He had to deal with this problem after News4Jax aired a story in late June about a man named Bryan Brown.
It's the tale of two Bryan Browns. One is accused of molesting a child, and the other teaches children how to defend themselves from stranger danger.
On June 20, News4Jax reported 38-year-old Bryan Brown was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious child molestation on a victim under the age of 12.
But 35-year-old Bryan Brown, a martial arts instructor who owns 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, became a victim of mistaken identity after the story was posted online. People recognized the name, but didn’t look at the picture.
"My wife's friends mentioned it to her, like, 'Please tell me this isn't your husband.' She was, like, 'Oh my God, no,'" the martial arts instructor said.
Then shock set in.
"I can't believe that somebody in my same town with my same name would do something this crazy," he said.
The martial arts instructor knew he had to take action.
"I was pretty lucky to get in front of it before a lot of my students' parents. Like, I actually got to be the one to break the news to them: 'Hey, by the way, just so you know, this happened,'" he said. "They were, like, 'Oh my goodness. I couldn't believe that happened.'"
The irony here is that 38-year-old Bryan Brown is accused of harming child, and 35-year-old Bryan Brown teaches children how to defend themselves from people who are trying to harm them.
“We give them confidence. We give them fitness. We give them the physical tools, if they need to defend themselves against attackers," the martial arts instructor said.
Children taking his class have no idea their instructor has the same name as a man facing a serious criminal charge. They just know their instructor is teaching them something fun and useful.
“I like grappling because it's fun and stuff and I love doing jiujitsu," said student Olivia Nelson.
Another student, Zeta Tiliakos, said, “There’s been stuff on the news about kids getting abducted and stuff. So they should come to these and learn how to defend themselves when people are trying to do bad things to them.”
The 38-year-old Bryan Brown is scheduled to be back in court Sept. 12. He’s currently out of jail on bond.
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