A deer caught in the headlights, the 44 year old in the video complies with the request. The much younger woman he is meeting, Chantal, then introduces herself: “I’m Chantal, with Creep Catchers…”
He had expected to meet with someone much, much younger.
Chantal portrayed herself online as a 14 year old girl. A disturbing texting exchange between the two, published online along with the video, gives the play by play leading up to the meeting.
It was no innocent encounter.
The texting starts with the man confirming her age as 14. Within a few minutes, he sends a photo of himself wearing only underwear. Later, he sends photos of his penis.
He asks her to reciprocate. He starts asking for a picture of her naked, then asks for pictures with only a bikini or bra and panties.
Far from leading him on, Chantal portrays as an innocent young girl who feels her parents don’t care about her, looking for someone to talk to. When asked if she masturbates, she responds with: “That’s personal”, and “I’ve never even talked like that before”.
When she reveals her sad feelings about her parents not paying enough attention to her, he responds with “Awe thats sad”, followed immediately by “What about me teaching you how to have sex?”. Chantal’s responses: “idk maybe, I think it’ll hurt”; and “I’m nervous to have sex”.
His texting focus is on the two of them getting together. If anything, Chantal portrays reluctance. She refuses his suggestion that she skip school. When he proposes a 10:00 p.m. meeting, she responds: “It’s a little late but okay”.
So there they are at the scheduled meeting, sitting across from each other on an outside patio.
Chantal lays into him. Every time he tries to deny the full extent of what he’s done, Chantal verbally smacks him down, reminding him that she has the chat logs.
She explains that a majority of the young girls on whatever internet site he was on are there because they are not getting love at home where they should be. She accuses him of taking advantage of that vulnerability. She very poignantly shares her own story of that dynamic leading to herself having a sexual encounter with a man when she was 14 and how “it ruins you”.
He is reduced to an apologetic, pathetic, broken man, exposed in his sexual aberration as if he was sitting there, naked.
On his commitment that he will never do this kind of thing again, she commits to sending him contact numbers for free counselling and support group services so that he can get help.
He is obviously hopeful that his commitments will keep this “sting” confidential. His plea about not wanting this to get back to his wife falls on deaf ears: “What, is it going to ruin your life? But you were just about to ruin a little girl’s life”.
The video was published September 9, 2016. By now, his whole world knows. I cannot help but feel sick to my stomach with empathy about the devastation ripping through his life: marriage; employment; friends; relationship with his 16 year old daughter.
Yes, a 16 year old daughter. That, and hearing Chantal share her own story, work as a stomach stabilizer.
According to the media, police forces are against this “vigilantism”, which has hit the media recently with high profile “stings” involving a former British Columbia deputy sheriff, and a Surrey RCMP officer.
Absolutely, this kind of thing is dangerous as all hell. Someone is going to get hurt, or worse. There is risk of mistaken identity and unfair “outing” which can cause unjust devastation.
Also, it’s possible the RCMP would have nailed this fellow independently. Perhaps the evidence obtained by Chantal will be completely useless in a criminal prosecution, and she has compromised any prospect of this fellow facing criminal consequences.
But in this very particular situation, where the “creep catcher” had herself been a victimized 14 year old girl, and where nothing was done to “entrap” the fellow in our common sense of the word, it seems to me that justice has been served in about as swift and effective a manner possible.
I am reluctant to offer any level of endorsement for the creep catcher movement, but I confess feeling a sense of security, for the safety of my early-teen daughters, that Chantal in particular is doing the work she is doing.
I remain opposed to the creep catcher movement for several reasons:
1: LACK OF STANDARDS: Anyone can declare themselves to be a “creep catcher”. There is no training, no background checks, no educational requirements, no psychological testing. You can be a creep catcher if you have a criminal past, if you are now or ever were a drug user, if you have malicious intent, if you have a history of sexual assault or sleeping with a minor, if you have a form of mental illness that might impact rational judgement or decision making, etc.
The creep catcher movement seems to be gaining in popularity with new groups forming in cities across the country. They go by names such as creep catchers, pedophile hunters, demon treaders, etc. Again, there are no standards, there is no consistency, there are no watchdogs, and those who do offer valid criticisms are prone to being attacked and accused of being pedophiles themselves.
I am surprised that we are not yet seeing claims of extortion, violence, or sexual assault. Or maybe we are and it’s just not yet come to the surface of public awareness.
In the past few weeks I have also seen talk of other vigilante groups forming: one to address the problem of drug dealers; a second to address the issue of those with opposing political views; a third (the Sons of Odin) to address “immigration” concerns.
If larger society accepts this group of vigilantes, where does it stop? Vigilante traffic enforcement? Vigilante family law? Vigilante tax collection?
2: EFFECTIVENESS – CHILDREN/TEENS: The frequent claim to fame is that creep catchers are “catching pedophiles” and keeping “children” safe.
– A pedophile is someone who is attracted to PRE-pubescent children.
– An ephebophile is someone who is attracted to POST-pubescent adolescents and young adults.
According to the Abel and Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study, 95% of all sexual acts involving children are committed by pedophiles.
Creep catchers do NOT go into CHILDREN’S sites, use images of children as their profile pics, pose as a child and wait for a predator to approach them.
Creep catchers go into ADULT sites, use images of adults as their profile pics, pose as adults, and only later in the dialogue “confess” to being a minor.
They are not catching pedophiles because they are not targeting pedophiles. They are catching ephebophiles.
This is a very important distinction for parents to be aware of because the steps you might need to protect your child from a pedophile are different from the steps you might take to protect your adolescents/young adults from an ephebophile.
Overall, creep catchers are not making the internet safer for children.
A good argument can be made that they *may* be making adult dating sites somewhat safer for the adolescents who attempt to sneak into them. Is that larger society’s desired end goal?
3: EFFECTIVENESS – “CREEPS”: As noted, the standard protocol for catching “creeps” is for a decoy to set up a false account at an adult dating site. They present themselves as adults using profile pictures of adults. Once a dialogue is established with a “potential creep” they will “confess” that they are actually younger than the 18+ the adult site requires as a condition of membership or participation.
In some of those cases, the conversation quickly turns to a sexual nature. Other conversations contain absolutely NO sexualized conversation at all.
In order to pursue a criminal charge of “luring” it must be proven that the accused believed they were communicating with a minor.
The “bait and switch” tactic introduces a valid defense for confusion and doubt, and may give any true predators the perfect legal out. “But your honour,” they can argue, “she told me she was 18. When the conversation turned in another direction, I thought she was expressing a fantasy of being a younger girl and I went along with it.”
Posting the videos and chat logs are also problematic:
1: They are literally providing a free online course to true predators of what to look for as a means of fine-tuning their predatory approach so they can become better at it. This makes it much more difficult for police or parents to ever catch them the first time, or subsequent. It also allows the worst of the worst to go home, clean their hard drives, and dump any incriminating evidence in their possession.
2: Anyone who is charged as based on evidence posted on social media can lament that they could never get a fair trial because so many members of the public have seen that video.
^ I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know if the above scenario is feasible but as a parent and adult concerned about the vulnerable in our society. I am NOT happy with an approach that may be ENABLING predators and teaching them how to become BETTER predators.
3: There are already so many groups with more likely to start up. Among all of these groups there is a desire to prove to their fans how effective they are. They do as much by posting as many videos as possible to demonstrate how many “creeps” they are catching.
Social media sites are being inundated with video after video after video, some of them with disclaimers announcing their lack of affiliation with another group or in competition with another group.
What parent or teen is going to remember all of those names and faces? It’s too much information. They blur into the background as new names and faces are brought forward.
The only way a parent could possibly stay on top of it all would be to immerse themselves in the ugliness of that world every day. Not only do most parents not have time for that, living in a state of fear that there are “potential predators” lurking around every corner is not a healthy way for them or their children to live.
Ultimately, the goal of posting as many videos as possible to demonstrate a group’s effectiveness has the counterbalancing effect of rendering all that information completely redundant.
4: EFFECTIVENESS – THE INNOCENT: About a year ago my daughter was physically assaulted by a former partner. He was charged, a no-contact order was put in place and a trial date was set. In the interim, he breached that no-contact order multiple times in an effort to manipulate her into changing her story.
At one point, he even used her social media account to send messages to friends, claiming his innocence. He went so far as to claim that “when she fought back, she gave herself bruises.” He tried to present himself as the victim and her, as the guilty party.
As a parent, it was a very distressing time and I did what I could to try and bring that to light, to try and protect her. But the police told me, they could do nothing because the courts would ask me to prove that he had actually sent all those messages. Not only the ones from her account but the ones from his. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t have done that unless I was sitting next to him when he’d sent them.
It was because of that experience that I was able to very quickly spot some of the flaws in the creep catcher approach. I wrote this in response:
The lack of due process leaves people open to victimization. If I were a vengeful spouse involved in a custody dispute, this is what I could do:
1: Set up a fake account in my ex’s name
2: Send a “tip” to creep catchers about a “predator” I knew
3: Wait for the creep catchers to contact me through the fake account
4: Engage in some VERY adult conversation with their decoy
5: Provide them with images of my ex-spouse’s face and vehicle
6: Ask my ex-spouse to stop in at the 7-11 for milk FIRST, before he came by to pick up the kids
All I need to do is get him to show up and to have the chats in his name. It’s not like anyone is going to ask questions. No one’s going to verify he actually sent the texts.
No. You get labelled as a pedophile and there is no defense. The accusation is as good as a conviction. The ex-spouse will be harassed, bullied, fired, possibly even assaulted.
Bottom line: He loses his job and can’t pay for a legal defense. I get public sympathy on my side AND the kids.
Who needs expensive lawyers or complicated custody battles in the courts when we have the creep catchers?
Supporters have claimed that the above could never happen because creep catchers never initiate first contact however, there is also evidence to the contrary; that they *do* initiate first contact in some instances.
In fact, the Edmonton Chapter president (who has since travelled to Surrey to help set up that chapter) has publicly stated: “Inbox a catcher with info on creeps.”
I have seen other new chapters make the same request of their members. This would not be necessary unless they were intending to gather some pre-game information on “creeps”.
In a facebook group titled Edmonton Confessions, there is a claim that a female creep catcher has done this very thing — setting up ex-boyfriends as “creeps” as a form of revenge.
And increasingly, on facebook, I am seeing people make public posts which include full names and images of people along with the invitation: “Creep catchers should go after X”.
In another nationwide group called “creep catchers” one of the admins notes:
“… We need to be super wary and cautious about third-party information because some people have abused our good hearts to blast exes or people they dislike… we can ruin lives…”
All of the above suggests that:
– Creep catchers do take tips
– Members of the general public are very much aware of this
– Creep catchers are aware that people may submit tips maliciously
– Creep catchers are aware that their actions have the potential to ruin lives
Since I began making those criticisms I’ve seen some indications that some groups are attempting to weed out potentially malicious tips, i.e., by having the catcher call the phone in question at the start of the face-to-face encounter but nowhere do I see the attempt to verify that:
– the individual was in sole control and possession of their digital devices or social media accounts when those messages were sent
They have created a very powerful weapon for vindictive spouses, jilted lovers, competitive co-workers, irate neighbours, etc.
There are also instances when one of these groups just plain gets the wrong person, as the recent case in Calgary demonstrates.
I have no doubt that some of the “potential predators” they catch are guilty of what they have been accused of. I’m equally certain that some of them aren’t. Those people are having their lives devastated for something they did not do.
5: EFFECTIVENESS – THE MENTALLY ILL and DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED: This was the point at which I became interested in following what was happening with the creep catcher movement.
It was when I became aware of first one, then another, then another, then more — people with mental illness or developmental disorders who had been “caught” in the net of a creep catcher — I felt that some of these people had been unjustly “outed” as pedophiles.
In some instances, they had said absolutely nothing of a sexual intent to the decoy; in others they had explicitly stated that no sexual activity could take place; in others, there had been sexual conversation along with a great deal of confusion. In all cases, they have been thrust forward as public punching bags.
– Of the six individuals I’m aware of who were “outed” in some capacity, all of them became deeply fearful
– At least two of them have been physically assaulted in the street by strangers
– One of those men, had specificially stated that no sexual activity could take place because of the decoy’s stated age. In spite of recognizing that she was “too young” he has been physically assaulted six times since then.
– The case of one woman is especially concerning. She was one of the first big “catches” in Edmonton. In her video, we see a creep catcher show up on the front porch of her home. He accuses her of things she did not do. She tries to explain — her phone was stolen four days earlier; she has recently been discharged from a hospital for a suicide attempt.
The catcher has been conditioned to give “zero f*cks”. Because she is holding a phone in her hand at that time, he accuses her of lying. He posts the video anyway. It goes viral. He later sends her a personal message stating, “I know that was not the phone in your hands”.
In spite of as much, the video remains in place. When a new group is started and someone asks him to share the video he willingly posts it. Once more, she is denigrated, humiliated, objectified, for the pleasure of someone else. She has made multiple suicide attempts since then.
– In a more recent case in the Okanagan, a man with FAS and schizophrenia was “outed”. On page 40 of the chat logs he clearly states: “”We can be friends for sure but we cant do anything sexual. Are you okay with that?”
Now, people on facebook are making the following statements about him:
– Maybe these “people” shouldn’t be allowed to live amongst civilized people, or at all for that matter. If a “person” is too retarded not to prey on children they shouldn’t be considered a person at all.
– I heard that there used to be a group of people in red deer that would abduct sex offenders when they were relocated to red deer and kill or castrate them, supposedly castrated a pedophile with a rusty soup can lid. More people like that need to exist.
In some cases, these people seem to have been “caught” early in a new group’s formation. There has been some speculation that they were targeted in some fashion because they were perceived as an “easy mark” not only more vulnerable to fall into the trap but also more likely to be shamed or bullied into silence.
In at least some instances, their cognitive defects are such that they never could have successfully orchestrated an actual meeting with an attractive young woman. But suddenly, one begins talking with them and expresses an actual interest in meeting with them. They have no idea that she is only a work of fiction.
“… Hunter has reportedly admitted that “Guys that I catch generally aren’t paedophiles”. Rather they are lonely individuals who jump at the idea that somebody, anybody, has paid them attention.
If that is the case, it tends to back up the belief that the vigilante stings themselves are facilitating the behaviour they seek to prevent…”
– The Paedophile Hunter: the psychology of vigilantism
It’s worth noting that pedophilia is not considered to be a form of mental illness. In defending those who have been unjustly targeted, I am not defending pedophilia.
Rather, I am defending those who lacked the capacity to recognize social boundaries. I am speaking out in recognition of the fact that the mentally ill and developmentally disabled are also a vulnerable segment of society; more likely to be victims of physical and sexual assault than they are to be perpretrators. They are often scapegoated.
I am also emphatically going on record to state I am not ready to embrace a society that wants to push mentally ill women to suicide, castrate young men with a rusty soup can lid, or applaud innocent people being assaulted on the streets.