GoFundMe pulls Hapgood campaign for violating terms of service
A GoFundMe page created for a Darien man as he fights manslaughter charges in Anguilla has been pulled by the site for violating its terms of service, GoFundMe said.
The campaign to raise money for Scott Hapgood and his family raised more than $250,000 toward its $400,000 goal by Wednesday after just six days, before it was removed on Thursday.
And a Facebook page dedicated to “justice” for the man the Hapgoods say was killed when Scott Hapgood defended himself and his children from an attack contained both angry messages about the campaign and celebration that the page was pulled.
The Facebook page, called “Unity for Justice” shared a screenshot of the GoFundMe on Sept. 22, with the caption, “This is how you buy your way out of murdering someone. His supporters are lined up and marching full speed ahead with no breaks.”
Another post encourages others to report the page.
“I just reported it. Everyone needs to do so as well as this is still an ongoing investigation,” the poster wrote.
“What if he is convicted. Than all of that money raised was to support a man who murdered somebody. Enough reports will possibly get it removed,” the poster wrote.
GoFundMe confirmed that the campaign was pulled for violating the terms of service and, and requests for further information were directed to the terms of service page. It did not specify which term the campaign violated and did not respond to the question. However, one of the terms deemed a violation it includes is:
“Campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.”
Thursday afternoon, the Unity for Justice page posted a screenshot of the Tweet from The Darien Times announcing the GoFundMe campaign had been pulled from the site with a celebratory message.
“Thank you!!!! Supporters of Kenny weren’t tolerating this mass of lies. Shut it Down!!! Thank you, every single one of you who reported this fraudulent campaign made a difference. Kenny wasn’t allowed to speak so we will speak for him! Keep the Pressure!” it read.
The Darien Times has reached out to “Unity for Justice” administrators for comment.
The purpose of the GoFundMe campaign before its deletion was “Please help Scott and his family as they fight to regain the life they worked so hard to build. Funds raised will be exclusively directed towards legal, administrative, travel-related, and personal security expenses associated with the recent tragedy in the Hapgoods life.”
The funds were administered by the Prichard family, described as “longtime friends of the Hapgoods.”
Most of the donations were under $1,000, but there were several in the amounts of $1,000 and $2,000. Some are at $5,000 or nearly that amount, including a combined contribution from the CT Grizzlies, described as a “premiere lacrosse club.” The Darien Times was informed about the GoFundMe by a parent on that team who said the Hapgoods’ daughter plays for the Grizzlies with her child.
There was also one individual donation in the amount of $10,000.
Hapgood, a Darien resident who is on leave from his job as a UBS trader, has been accused of killing the hotel worker in April during a violent struggle while on vacation with his family in the Caribbean.
The Hapgoods’ three children — ages 14, 12 and 9 — have been kept largely out of the spotlight throughout the international media frenzy since the initial incident over spring break.
“The Go Fund Me page set up for us is a reminder to our family of how fortunate we are to be surrounded by the most incredible circle of friends and family. We will be forever grateful to everyone who has donated such badly needed funds as we try to move forward from the nightmare we are living,” the Hapgood family said at the time of its creation.
“Although we wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, the support from the Fairfield County, Dartmouth and Kansas communities, both financial and otherwise, has made us realize how blessed we are,” they said through spokesman Jamie Diaferia of Infinite Global.
Diaferia confirmed the page had been pulled due to terms of service, but said since the family had not set it up directly, they were unsure of the next steps.
Hapgood’s attorney, Juliya Arbisman, of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, said Anguilla police have warned of potential threats of violence as her client has returned to the island several times in the past month for court appearances.
The Hapgood family has said the Darien man was defending himself and his young children after Mitchel came to their room to fix a bathroom sink. Hapgood contended the sink was never broken and no one called for someone to come to their room, but he trusted Mitchel because he was wearing a hotel uniform.
The family has accused Mitchel of pulling a knife, resulting in Hapgood “fighting for his life” and being bitten multiple times, including on the face.
A toxicology report released last month revealed Mitchel tested positive for cocaine, Delta-9 THC (the active substance in marijuana) and other drugs. The report also showed that Mitchel had a blood-alcohol content level of .181, which is more than double the legal limit in the United States and the United Kingdom, which is .08.
“The toxicology report confirms that Scott Hapgood had no choice but to defend himself and his children from the frenzied attack of a man under the influence of a dangerous combination of illegal drugs and alcohol,” Arbisman said after the report was released.
Residents on the island were outraged Hapgood was permitted to return to Connecticut after Mitchel’s death. Hapgood was originally held at Her Majesty’s Prison in Anguilla when he was denied bail. But he was later released on bond after his attorney appealed to the High Court.
Earlier this month, Hapgood’s spokesman said he had fulfilled his bail requirements by attending all of his court dates and will return to Anguilla in November as the court considers the next steps.