It’s become a cliche’ of dumb-criminal stories: perv hooks up online with child, arranges to meet for sex, ends up arrested when “child” turns out to be undercover cop. It keeps happening over and over, and it seems the perverts never, ever learn from each others’ mistakes.
Apparently to some people, though, the cops aren’t doing (or aren’t being allowed to do) enough. So folks are stealing a page from the police and arranging their own cyber-stings, pretending to be underage and trolling for kiddie-diddlers online themselves.
Some law-enforcement officials are concerned. They worry that the vigilantes could end up endangering themselves, or at the least imperiling prosecution of the pervs, as they could very easily cross the line into entrapment.
This is a tough call for me. On the one hand, I have a bit of a fondness for vigilantism. I grew up reading comic books, and I think we all have an obligation to look out for each other, to be vigilant for criminal activity, to deal with some problems ourselves instead of simply shrugging and leaving everything for the cops. Lord knows I’ve done a few things in my life that could be considered vigilantism, even crossing the line once or twice into being on the wrong side of the law.
But there is a difference between being watchful and actively seeking to find and confront criminals. As a general rule, that should be left to the professionals. There are certain areas where government needs to maintain a monopoly in order to survive and prosper, and law enforcement is one of those.
I think it would be best if those who stalk the stalkers would go back to the original meaning of “vigilante” — “one who watches” — and simply observed, and did not seek to become a participant.
In the meantime, though, that means that there’s yet one more thing for child molesters to worry about out there as they seek their prey, and I happen to think that’s a good thing.
That’s a tough call, Jay Tea. While I agree with not actively seeking out criminals, for the most part, these particular scumbags (the molestors, not the stingers) are preying upon kids. It seems to me that the cops are probably handcuffed in the sense that they just don’t have enough people to constantly weed out these guys. The more people that are doing it, the better.
As a dad, I would like to keep my daughter safe, and as such, I would have no ethical dilema against protecting her from preditors. Justice vs the law becomes grey when primal emotions are in play. I would happily participate with the police to find and help defeat a preditor against my child. Now comes the problem. Our justice system doesn’t see it as simple black white threat and consequence. Everyone must be heard and then the truth is revealed. And if you want to get the preditors gone, you have to use the law to defeat them. Otherwise the issue gets lost. Also, I would want to find a way to stop the need for preditors to do what they do, I do believe that reasons matter. Solve the reason if you can to defeat the problem.
In this vein, check out the controversial website PervertedJustice.com. They are a vigilante group who posts the pervs info (address, picture, etc.) on the internet after stinging them. They rank them according to a sliminess rating. I wrote a blog about this a year or more ago which generated a ton of debate.
P.S. Sorry, I didn’t realize the article already mentioned the above. It is worth paying a visit though.
RBT just recently “retired” after a 35 year career in a local law enforcement agency in So Cal (City of 300K). Ths last 20 years as an investigator working many types of crimes including high tech. These investigations drew him into the Net and Blogos.
RBT sees a great benefit of using the Army of Davids effect to leverage scarce police resources. See these comments/links at my blog.
An Army of Davids to Force Leverage Scarce Police Resources
RBT has been on this kick of using the Net and the Blogos to force leverage scarce police resources for a long time.
None of the stuff I saw on PJ looked like entrapment, at least of the predators, Not surprising, sadly looks like these fellas (the pervs) spent a lot of time reading Penthouse Forum and simply dialed down the age of their victims to meet their needs.
What are we doing to protect adults from similar predation?
I know there are all sorts of objections to be intellected, such as once you are an adult, consenting adults, etc. But really, outside of religious preaching and lay “just say no” campaigns, what are we doing as a society to breed safety from such filth? I sense a huge void here that spreads like a black cancer from dense urban areas to the most remote rural communities off the grid. Sadly, corrupt ideology such as Islam, can seize and manipulate the perception to justify their own depravity.
The vigilante is claiming to be a minor and courts apparently allow that the intent of the pervert is what counts rather than the truth (the vigilante is not a minor). So what happens when the vigilante goes one step further. That is, the vigilante is in fact a minor and upon invitation goes to the home of someone posing as a minor, but who’s actually an adult. If the truth doesn’t count and if people are convicted based on their internet transcripts, then it seems the adult should be charged and face jail time. Would it matter I if that adult is working with Perverted Justice? If Priests are not above suspicion, then who is?
It might be wise to leave such things to authorities least you find that you have lured a minor to your home, who then calls 911 when they discover you’re an adult posing as a minor on the internet. The trap can work both ways. Remember, it’s what you pretended to be on the internet that counts, not who you are or what you claim you were trying to do.
I can’t see how a citizen baiting a perv could be entrapment.
“ENTRAPMENT – A person is ‘entrapped’ when he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit; and the law as a matter of policy forbids conviction in such a case.
However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the Government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime.”
If this “posse of Davids” are not acting as agents of the LEOs, then there can be no legal entrapment. However the Davids are open to civil suits for defamation, etc and for random acts of violence by the thwarted perverts.
I delivered an ex-client’s hard drive containing kiddy-porn and bestiality pix to the local State Police Barracks. No Prosecution, (due to a wimp DA) But no other repercussions from the perv except the loss of his business. He didn’t even try to get a replacement HD from me.
He is on their watch list due to his career (Schoolbus driver) he has not been ‘outed’ publicly, just given strong words to the wise. He swears innocence, that the files were from popups etc. So far he is either staying clean or being very circumspect in his thrill seeking.
As a part of the Neighborhood watch in Baltimore (Northwest Citizens’ Patrol) we are forbidden to get out of our cars and must notify the police officer who is on patrol with us whenever something occurs. THe officer is then the person who takes further action, whether it is notifying a citizen that his car lights are on, stopping a group of “youths”, or dealing with a crime. I would say that if a vigilante gets to the point of an apparent meeting, he should first call the police and arrange for an officer to be present.
Entrapment is a fairly desperate affirmative defense usually reserved for government action. I haven’t heard of a private citizen entraping anyone in my state (CO) for the past 20 years. I’m with you on the rest of the posting though. Remember, every “professional killer” you seek to hire is almost certainly a cop and if you can pretend to be something you’re not on the web, so can the other person.
If it were one of my kids, I would be struggling HARD with wanting to load up the shotgun and knowing that I should not.
High praises to John Walsh, who turned the kidnapping and murder of his own little boy into a lifetime career of nabbing creeps. If I were in a similar situation, I hope I would have the guts to do something much more useful that taking out one pervert.
On a lighter note – did anyone see that one idiot on TV who used the same screen name and got nabbed TWICE????? Shouldn’t he get a ribbon or something??? 🙂