Falsely accused

January 31, 2013

By Michele Mihalovich

The accusations about Adam Hayes beating his chocolate lab with a two-by-two piece of lumber began appearing on North Bend and Snoqualmie Yahoo groups Jan. 28.

Someone going by the name “SnoqualmieJoe” had posted something he read on his friend’s Facebook wall, and figured all animal lovers needed to know about this man and his heinous crime, and urged people to boycott Hayes’ business, FaceLIFT Painting LLC.

Readers were so incensed by Hayes’ actions, they vowed to boycott the business. SnoqualmieJoe also posted that he’d learned more about the dog beater, and he urged people to write business reviews about FaceLIFT on Yelp and Angie’s List.

One man wrote that he didn’t think it was right to unfairly jump to conclusions about a person in an unnamed Facebook post, to which Traci wrote, “I appreciate that you don’t want to unfairly jump to conclusions, but let me ask you this? Would you have that same reaction if he was beating his daughter or son with a block of wood? Or his wife?”

Others emailed Rep. Jay Rodne and encouraged others to do the same.

SnoqualmieJoe chimed in again and wrote, “Don’t turn a blind eye to this crap and do nothing. Follow Bill’s lead and email rep Rodne like he did.”

The problem is that Adam Hayes, the man whom this group wanted to crucify and destroy his business, was not involved in the animal abuse incident.

North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner confirmed that the incident, which happened about 8:30 a.m. Jan. 25 in an unincorporated area of King County just outside of Snoqualmie, did not involve anyone by the name of Adam Hayes.

So the Star contacted Hayes, who lives in Everett, and asked him if he’d received any strange phone calls or emails accusing him of animal abuse.

“Yes!” he said in an astonished voice.

Hayes said that on Jan. 25, a woman called and asked if his name was Adam Hayes, did he own FaceLIFT Painting, and did he own a dog?

Yes, yes, and yes.

“Then she asked if my dog was a chocolate lab,” he said. “When I told her no, she said she’d read on Facebook that I was beating my dog with a two-by-four.”

He said what the woman was saying to him was just bizarre. “I have never hurt my dog. I would never touch my dog with a two-by-four. I have to practically carry her outside to go to the bathroom, she’s so old.”

Hayes said he didn’t really pay attention to what she said after that.

“I thought she was trying to pull some sort of scam with Labrador pups. But I was so freaked out that I went home immediately and got on my Facebook account to see if I could find the post she was talking about. I mean, this is my livelihood we’re talking about.”

When he couldn’t find anything, he just shrugged it off.

But when the Star called and told Hayes about the posts, he said he was turning it over and over in his mind about how in the world his name could have come up.

He has done work in North Bend and Snoqualmie, but he hadn’t been there for months. And he hadn’t received any complaints from unhappy customers.

But then it dawned on him. Two months ago he’d sold one of his work trailers, which still had the business name on it, to a friend of his who lives in Snoqualmie…and owns a chocolate lab.

That friend contacted the Star and told his side of the story. He asked that his name not be used, because he’s “afraid for my wife and kids,” he said.

So we’ll call him Steve.

“I have a wonderful chocolate lab named Coco,” Steve said. “I love her. She’s an outdoor dog, but we have a heat lamp out there for her.”

Steve said Coco, who is two years old, had decided that a rubber piece that goes around a tree so the tree doesn’t get chopped up while using a string trimmer was a perfect toy.

Steve said when he grabs it from her, she thinks it’s a game and that the two of them are playing.

“I decided I had to do something so that she understood that I wasn’t playing,” he said. “So I spanked her bottom with a short piece of lattice. When I went to spank her a second time, it just shattered because it’s such a flimsy piece of wood. It didn’t hurt her at all.”

But he said a woman misinterpreted it and started screaming at him…and screaming and screaming.

Steve said he and Coco went to the back yard and could still hear the woman screaming.

He said it was about time for him to walk his daughter to the bus stop and he didn’t want his daughter to have to hear all the screaming, so he called the police.

What he didn’t know is that the woman had also called the police.

Steve said a King County Sheriff’s Deputy came out, and Steve showed him the piece of lattice he used, the deputy made notes, spent some time with Steve and Coco, saw that there was no welts on the dog and that the dog “appeared happy, friendly and frisky” and that there was nothing to be concerned about.

Steve said a neighbor told him that the woman came back the next day and was taking photos of the FaceLIFT Painting trailer he’d bought from Hayes that was parked in his driveway.

Steve said he figures that’s how Adam Hayes got dragged into the mess.

“Adam is completely innocent in this,” said Steve. “Now he’s having to fight a battle that wasn’t his to fight in the first place. I guess some people have come to his defense and removed the posts. But once something gets on the Web, sometimes you can’t ever erase that stuff.”

One of the people who came to Hayes’ defense was North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing.

He too checked on the story because he was bothered that someone named a person and a business from an unverified source.

Hearing said he learned from the police that Adam Hayes was completely innocent, and posted a general notice.

It read in part, “According to Chief Toner, most of the rest of the information is inaccurate at best. Please be careful when posting things that may be hurtful to other people and their families. Naming names can be unnecessarily damaging to reputations. At the very least post only those things that you verify yourself.”

SnoqualmieJoe’s response was, “Sorry Ken, but I will respectfully disagree with this statement.”

A woman named Angela Barrus also decided to do her homework, and contacted Hayes.

Her post after that conversation said, “This Yahoo group is a fantastic service to our valley. I invite all participants to use it responsibly. I also invite those who have misrepresented a good man’s name to go above and beyond to do ALL that they can do to attempt to repair damage.”

Hayes is calling Barrus his guardian angel.

“There are people out there willing to say no to evil talk. I hope the people of Snoqualmie know now that I am not responsible for this, and I hope it doesn’t affect my business. I love people and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but make sure you have your facts straight.”

Hayes, a married man with three boys, told the Star that the whole experience has just been surreal. “You hear of stories like this, but you just never think it’s going to happen to you.”

 

Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or editor@snovalleystar.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.

 

 

 

 

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