Controversy surrounds civilian group of predator catchers after latest confrontation
‘We want these groups to just stop what they’re doing.’
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A group of Indiana residents self-appointed as sexual-predator catchers recently lured a Cincinnati man into a civilian sting operation, according to the group’s founder.
Chris Abercrombie runs the Exposing Predators of Indiana’s Children Facebook group. He says on Sept. 3, the 40-year-old Cincinnati man drove more than 100 miles to New Albany, Indiana on the pretense of picking up a 14-year-old girl for sex.
Video footage shows members of the group encounter the man.
The man is not facing criminal charges and will not be named in this story.
The group has been active for two years. Members create fake profiles and go into chat rooms posing as minors in order to solicit potential predators. That, according to Abercrombie, is what happened here.
“It’s crazy, because the decoy was only in the teen site for, I think, five or 10 minutes and had two guys hitting her up, and one immediately started sending her nude pictures,” Abercrombie stated.
New Albany police arrived during the group’s confrontation with the man. Officers questioned him and released him.
Prosecutors say the so-called evidence these groups compile is often unusable in court. For example, Under Ohio, messages exchanged between alleged suspects and people online are only admissible if the person is an actual child or a law enforcement officer posing as a child.
Dave Frattare is a lead investigator with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
“They’re they’re judge and jury on the street here,” Frattare said. “We want these groups to just stop what they’re doing. We wouldn’t treat our offenders like this. We wouldn’t, you know harass them. We wouldn’t threaten them.”
He says first and foremost, the confrontations are a public safety concern. What if one of the accused pulls a gun?
“Yeah, I mean the environment that they’re creating here, I mean, they’re putting the public at risk. They’re putting the public at risk. They’re putting other bystanders at risk,” he said.
We have reached out to New Albany police and Cincinnati police about the man in the video above. We have not heard back as of this writing.
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