VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Manchester serial rapist is NOT in the Philippines

(UPDATED) A Facebook (FB) user posted a false warning on Feb. 13 about the presence in the Philippines of Reynhard Sinaga, the Indonesian national convicted of rape and sexual assault of dozens of men in the United Kingdom.

According to several news reports, the 38-year-old is serving a life sentence and has been housed in Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Wakefield since Feb. 17, 2020. HMP Wakefield is a prison in Britain nicknamed Monster Mansion for holding the country’s most notorious criminals.

There are no statements from British authorities nor reports from U.K.-based and international media that Sinaga has escaped.

The HMP Prison Service confirmed to VERA Files Fact Check in an email on Feb. 23 that there have been no escape attempts at HMP Wakefield.

The untrue FB post, which has been shared over 1,500 times and has drawn mixed reactions from netizens in the comment section, bore the caption: “Please be aware of him girl's! [sic] ‘Reynhard sinaga’ Please nandito na siya sa philippines (He’s now here in the Philippines).”

The false post also showed two photos of the convicted rapist: a screengrab of a CCTV footage showing Sinaga leaving a building, and a picture that shows his face. Both were published by the U.K.’s public prosecuting agency Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in January 2020.

Sinaga was found guilty of 159 sexual offenses against men, including 136 rapes that he filmed on mobile phones, CPS reported.

Sinaga made the headlines in December 2020 following the increase of his jail time from a minimum of 30 years to 40 after an intervention by the British Solicitor General. Police also believe he sexually assaulted 206 men, after more evidence came to surface.

The false post emerged after reports of a 51-year-old Italian man, accused of rape and sexual assault in his country, was arrested in Angeles City, Pampanga, according to a Feb. 2 statement by the Bureau of Immigration.

(Editor's Note: This story was updated on Feb. 24, 2021 to include a response from the HMP Prison Service.)

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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