According to Puresight, there are approximately 799,041 registered sex offenders in the USA. That is not even counting those who have already done their time, as in some states the legal record is removed after 10 years and their status appears “clean.” One in five U.S. teenagers have had an unwanted sexual solicitation via the web. The web has ushered in a new age for pedophiles. With the internet allowing you complete anonymity, it’s easy for predators to prey on curious children. This is where the so-called Creep Catchers come in.
Justin Payne is an independent Creep Catcher from Toronto, Canada. He was one of the originals and has been doing this “service” since 2014. He has caught many pedophiles on his Youtube channel, Justin Payne. His work must be effective, as he has caught only one person a second time (having returned to old habits on the web). By day, he is a construction worker. By night, he spends his time online posing as a minor, boy or girl, and tries to get older men or women to meet him somewhere in public. He will confront them at this location and they either run away, claim their innocence, or admit their guilt. Common excuses sound something like this:
“I thought you were joking about the age, I wanted to see if you were real, I just came by to be friends, I came over to tell her I’m not interested anymore, and this is my first time ever doing this.”
Most of the time, these are straight up lies.
His early videos were very aggressive; you could see the anger in his eyes and hear it in his voice. Now he has learned to control his rightful anger at these attempted predators and clarify that he carries out these deeds for the good of his community. So what’s the problem with it? In 2016, John Woodward of CTV W5 conducted an investigation into various Creep Catcher groups in Canada. The investigation discovered that many of these men and women have spent time in prison for many various crimes. More specifically, the president of Creep Catcher… Ryan LaForge. He had been charged with assault on both April 3 and 19th of 2017 respectively at the same exact place. Both times he was in an operation intended to catch a pedophile. They placed one man under a citizen’s arrest and kept pushing the man back into a corner to prevent him from fleeing. Yes, what he sets out to do might be considered a good deed, but the way he conducts his business is potentially criminal in its own right. In no way shape or form is it ok to lay your hand on the person you are holding under citizens arrest. It can be considered assault and lead to jail time.
They also obtain their money in suspicious ways. Laforge has claimed that he has no other job than Creep Catchers and all the donations from his supporters go to paying his bills as he has no other form of income. While their intentions may be good, the effects of their actions may have caused more harm than good, such as a chapter of the Creep Catcher organization in Alberta, Canada that interfered with a police investigation on a child predator that escaped surveillance and was arrested months later for molesting a toddler and a baby.
While I commend them for their respect towards their community and their desire to make their communities safer, there must be a better way than his vigilante tactics in taking the law into his own hands. Some of the men in these chat logs later claim that there is no sexual intent in their proposed meetings. While an adult meeting a minor privately without parental consent can still a crime, it is not nearly as severe as a predatory crime.
At the end of the day, no child should ever go through what these people are trying to prevent. Still, the efforts of the men and women of creep catchers might better look into working for their local police forces, with legal cyber crimes units. In this way, they have professional backing in their passionate desire to rid the world of child abuse and benefit from the support and pay of the government to back up their work.