Over the last month, Voodoo Doughnut has found itself the target of an online conspiracy theory alleging the popular Portland doughnut franchise is engaged in child sex trafficking.
A new report by NBC News says the company's downtown location has been hounded by harassing phone calls and social media comments. At one point last week, the business was fielding more calls about the unfounded rumors than doughnut orders.
Manager Eamon Monaghan told NBC callers would frequently claim, "We know what is happening at your place."
The allegations, referred to online as "#doughnutgate," began with a since-deleted YouTube video in which a man identified as Michael Whalen claimed he saw signs of child trafficking during a party he attended at Voodoo owner Tres Shannon's Portland house.
According to NBC, the claim was further spread by a far-right website called Big League Politics, whose content appears to be partially derived from "a secret message board" devoted to concocting and disseminating pedophilia-based conspiracy theories. Users posted maps of the sewer system around various Voodoo locations, and speculated that "small submarines" could have been used to smuggle children in and out of the shop.
In the article, Portland Police Bureau spokesman Christopher Burley says the bureau has also received an "enormous" amount of calls related to the claims. Burley says a detective looked into the situation, but that Whalen "failed to cooperate."
Earlier this month, a police representative told WW that the bureau
"has not received any reports substantiating these allegations."