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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Jason's sister in plea to Facebook over Molly's use of children's photos

Molly Martens Corbett walks to the Davidson County Courthouse. Picture: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens Corbett walks to the Davidson County Courthouse. Picture: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch

Ralph Riegel

The sister of murdered Jason Corbett has issued a personal appeal to Mark Zuckerberg to tackle the "heartbreaking, cruel and exhausting process" to get disputed photos removed from Facebook.

Tracey Corbett Lynch has waged a three-year battle to get photos of her brother Jason's children removed from the Facebook page of the woman who orphaned them, Molly Martens.

"That has taken longer than the trial process itself in the United States - it is truly shocking," she said.

"For three years we have been trying to get Facebook to remove photographs of the children from Molly's page.

Molly Martens
Molly Martens

"It has been a cruel and soul-destroying process trying to protect the children and get their photos removed from these pages."

Martens and her father, retired FBI agent Thomas Martens, were convicted last August in North Carolina of the second degree murder of Mr Corbett (39).

Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens being led away from court in handcuffs Photo: Donnie Roberts
Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens being led away from court in handcuffs Photo: Donnie Roberts

Mr Corbett, a Limerick packaging industry executive, was beaten to death in the bedroom of his North Carolina home with a brick and a metal baseball bat on August 2, 2015.

Ms Martens was his second wife, with his first wife, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, having died from a tragic asthma attack in 2006.

Ms Fitzpatrick was the mother of his two children, Jack and Sarah.

Prosecutors claimed Mr Corbett had been drugged and was then attacked while he was asleep in bed and helpless by Ms Martens and her father.

Thomas Martens Picture: Winston-Salem Journal/Walt Unks
Thomas Martens Picture: Winston-Salem Journal/Walt Unks

Ms Corbett Lynch waged a determined battle to defend her brother's good name from slanderous attacks - and worked for two years to support the North Carolina prosecution.

She also won custody and guardianship of the two children in the US - something that infuriated Ms Martens.

The Corbett family were then appalled when Ms Martens began posting multiple photos of Jack and Sarah on her page.

Photographs of the children were also circulated on social media posts supporting the father and daughter.

"Jason's children and my family have been victimised by an online hate campaign by Molly Martens Corbett and her supporters for two years until she was finally convicted," Ms Corbett Lynch said.

"Facebook provided the platform for this and repeatedly ignored not just my pleas but those of the public that supported protecting two innocent children from being used in an effort to evade justice," she added.

Ms Corbett Lynch vigorously pursued Facebook to have all images of the children removed from Ms Martens page - but said she faced a mountain of bureaucracy.

"I had to provide their dates of birth, our guardianship documentation, evidence of the conviction in North Carolina as well as additional information requested at each turn by Facebook.

"We never dealt with the same person twice - and it was impossible to contact anyone on the phone in Facebook.

"When I started sending them the information they had demanded, they contacted me to say I was sending too much and if I continued doing it they would block me."

Facebook said it had launched an internal review into the matter.

An official said it took the issue very seriously and would vigorously review all dealings the social media firm had with the Lynch and Corbett families since 2015.

However, the representative said this would take some time to conclude.

"The photos were only taken down in the last couple of weeks - after a three year campaign - and yet there is still a photo of Sarah on Molly's page today," Ms Corbett Lynch said.

"The lack of response or action by Facebook has compounded our pain.

"Mark Zuckerberg is best known for co-founding Facebook and as a philanthropist," she said.

"As a parent I ask that he considers my requests and pleas. This should not be allowed to happen to anyone else," she added.

Irish Independent

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