Danice Brod, Woman Misidentified as Coughing Shopper, Suffers Harassment at Work

Police in Nebraska have warned that people who harassed a woman online—after wrongly accusing her of coughing on people while not wearing a mask in a grocery store—could face criminal charges.

A clip of Janene Hoskovec deliberately coughing towards a woman who was with her daughter at a Super Saver in Lincoln, Nebraska, went viral after it was posted on Reddit on September 3.

The video of the incident was later posted on Twitter, where it has since been viewed more than 4.5 million times.

Hoskovec, 54, was fired from her job at software company SAP for coughing on the pair and for violating Lincoln's mask mandate requiring people to cover their face while indoors at all public places.

Before Hoskovec was named as the woman in the video, another woman was wrongly identified online and received abuse.

COVID-denier in Nebraska coughs on shoppers at a supermarket pic.twitter.com/Ejy9HfsshS

— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) September 7, 2021

Danice Trauernicht Brod, of Lincoln, posted on Facebook that she was not the woman in the video—and had contacted police to try to find the real perpetrator.

In a statement to Newsweek, Lincoln Police spokesperson Erin Spilker confirmed that they had not yet received an official complaint from the woman who recorded the original footage, although Hoskovec could face criminal charges.

Spilker added that the department had been called by a woman because she was being harassed at work after wrongly being identified as Hoskovec.

"The Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department are aware of the highly publicized event occurring in one of our local grocery stores. The Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department work closely with each other to address complaints of Directed Health Measures and/or related incidents," Spilker said.

"Offensive actions that go beyond mask wearing can be considered a criminal violation, such as depicted in this incident.

"While viewing this incident may be disturbing to some viewers, enforcement is predicated on statements and evidence from those actually at the scene.

"The one complaint we have received is from an individual who was initially identified online as the offender.

"This erroneous identification resulted in online harassment and repeated offensive phone calls to her workplace. These actions are also potential criminal violations," she added.

Brod's employer, Lincoln car dealership DuTeau Chevrolet, also described the abuse she had received while asking those who had named her to delete their posts to prevent further harassment.

"We are incredibly saddened by the events that took place at Super Saver on S 27th St. What hurts us most is that an employee of ours is getting blamed for something that she DID NOT do," the company wrote on Facebook.

"Danice Brod is not the lady many of you are seeing in a recent video. Danice is an incredibly kind woman with the biggest heart. We ask that you please stop posting and slandering her name. She is an incredible person and fabulous employee."

One of the people who correctly identified Hoskovec told Newsweek that he had found her online by searching Nebraska-based anti-mask groups on Facebook.

"I worked with what I had: the incident's location, her assumed age range, and her indignation towards COVID guidelines. To put this simply: Baby Boomer + Misinformation = Facebook," said the social media user, who wished to be named only as Danesh.

"I began searching different groups, events, and news stories in her general location (Lincoln, Nebraska) that related to COVID and started manually checking all interactions with these type of posts. For example, if it was a post about mask mandates, I would go through all 'angry reacts' and checked every account with a female name."

Danesh said he eventually found Hoskovec reacting with a heart emoji to a story about Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts opposing mask mandates, then verified her details with two others also working on identifying the woman in the video.

Discussing how Brod was wrongly identified, Danesh added: "Most people do not do their due diligence and so they shouldn't be doing this. Wrongfully accusing someone should be impossible if you have verified your findings."

Update 9/10/21, 11:50 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add comments from Danesh.

Janene Hoskovec coughing
People shop at a grocery store enforcing the wearing of masks in Los Angeles on July 23. Police said a woman who was falsely accused of coughing on people while not wearing a mask in a grocery store in Nebraska was abused at her work. Chris Delmas / AFP)/Getty Images