Pedophile hysteria in England

British police on Tuesday charged a man with the murder of an 8-year-old girl, a killing that caused a national outcry against sex offenders and sparked vigilante-style attacks on suspected pedophiles. Police said Roy Whiting, 42, of Littlehampton, south of London, has also been charged with kidnapping Sarah Payne, whose body was found partially buried in a field in southern England on July 17, two weeks after she disappeared, Associated Press reports. Police, who have not revealed whether she was sexually attacked, say she was either strangled or suffocated. Incensed by the Payne family's suffering, the Sunday tabloid News of the World for two weeks published names, photos, identifying details and locations of alleged pedophiles. But the newspaper stopped publishing them after a series of vigilante attacks on people identified in its pages and on people mistaken for them. In the southern coastal city of Portsmouth, demonstrators marched every night for a week in an effort to drive out convicted or suspected sex offenders. Religious leaders and other critics say protests and publication of offenders' identities create a climate of fear and hysteria that will only drive sex offenders underground, placing children in more danger.

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