Creep Catchers sting leads to sex charge against PEI man police

first_imgCHARLOTTETOWN – A sting by the controversial Creep Catchers vigilante group has led to the arrest of a 31-year-old Charlottetown man.The man set up a meeting with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl on a dating site called Skout, Det. Sgt. Walter Vessey of the Charlottetown police major crime unit said Wednesday.It wasn’t a girl, though — it was a member of the Cape Breton Creep Catchers.“The suspect in this case initiated contact … started conversation and eventually it led to making arrangements to get together for a sexual purpose,” said Vessey.The man — a non-citizen who has lived in Canada on a work visa for about four years — was charged with making an agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child.Vessey said the man travelled to Sydney to meet a girl behind the Mayflower Mall in Sydney. Instead, he was confronted and filmed by the Creep Catchers. The man was apologetic, and said he wouldn’t do it again, said Vessey.The Creep Catchers alerted Cape Breton Regional Police Service, who ended up handing the case to Charlottetown, site of the alleged offence.“It’s my first involvement with the group and I know there is controversy around the way they operate, but in this particular case, they made a complaint to the Cape Breton police, they provided supporting information, and the information resulted in laying a charge against a person who it looks like intended to victimize a child,” Vessey said.“Certainly we’re not in business with the Creep Catchers … we just treated this case the same as any other tip that came in.”The Creep Catchers are known for targeting people they allege are child sexual predators by posing as minors online, arranging to meet their targets and filming the encounters, which are then published on the internet.Law enforcement officials across Canada have expressed concern about the groups, warning the public that confronting alleged child predators could put people in danger and compromise police investigations.Desiree Vassallo of Cape Breton police said the force was contacted in April with “some information about a possible luring incident.” Once it was determined that the alleged crime occurred in P.E.I., the case was handed to Charlottetown.“We don’t support or condone the actions of any type of vigilante groups, generally speaking. That said, when information comes to our attention about a possible criminal offence, we will follow up on it because it’s important to do so,” she said.Vessey said Charlottetown officers reviewed video of the Mayflower Mall confrontation, along with chat logs and text messages, before laying charges.Vessey said the man has been released after surrendering his passport under orders not to communicate with anyone under 18 for a sexual purpose.“He works in the service industry, where he has contact with members of the public,” said Vessey. “So if in the course of his job he needs to talk to a customer who may be 17 about serving them, then that is OK, but there can’t be any sexual purpose in the communications.”Police say the accused will appear in court on Aug. 28.Last month, British Columbia’s information and privacy commissioner ordered the Surrey chapter to stop posting personal information about two men the group alleges are linked to child luring.Drew McArthur investigated complaints from two people and says the group used deceptive or misleading practices when it communicated with them and made video recordings of their meetings.McArthur’s decision says the recordings were posted to social media along with added allegations that the men had attempted to lure and meet with a minor for sexual purposes.last_img

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