A Red Deer, Alta., woman says she fears for her safety since going to police with allegations that a member of the Creep Catcher vigilante group planned to use a 14-year-old girl to bait and trap a suspected predator.
“I’m scared shitless right now,” the woman, who asked that her name not be published, told CBC News. “And because Creep Catchers is so supported, I’ve been afraid to leave my house.”
She is one of two women who told CBC News they have been threatened by the self-styled pedophile-hunters after speaking out against their tactics. The vigilantes deny the allegations.
Creep Catcher is a national network of vigilantes who pose as minors online in order to bait would-be sex offenders, then confront them on camera and share the videos online.
The group, which has begun to splinter into separate organizations, has recently come under fire for wrongly identifying a Mountie and a Surrey, B.C., man as sexual predators and posting a video of a mentally ill woman who later took her own life.
‘I thought it was all about the kids’
“I’m all for child justice and stuff like that, and that’s why I joined, because I thought it was all about the kids,” the Red Deer woman said.
Her opinion changed in July when the group found out that a man they call Ian, an alleged predator from a previous Creep Catcher video, messaged a 14-year-old girl on Facebook and asked her if she was single.
The woman insisted they call police, but Red Deer chapter president Tahner Chinksi pointed out that the girl’s profile said she was in her 20s. “So far, that’s not illegal,” Chinksi said in a text message to the woman. “If we play him along, we should get him major charges.”
“You CANNOT have a child subjected to a predator,” the woman wrote. “That is wrong.”
When she threatened to call police, Chinksi replied: “Do whatever you gotta do, I guess. I’m not talking to cops until I get evidence and can actually get him charged, and she’s already talking to him.”
The next day, Chinksi asked her to leave the group.
The Red Deer woman said she called police immediately and again a few days later when the girl was reported missing.
The girl was found safe, and there is no evidence her disappearance is connected to Creep Catcher. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Red Deer RCMP confirm they received a report from the woman relating to a missing girl but say they have no ongoing investigations concerning the complainant, the girl or the vigilantes.
“This is not work that should be done by amateurs,” Cpl. Karyn Kay said. “They don’t have the skills or training, they may damage ongoing police investigations, and they certainly don’t follow privacy legislation or due process.”
Chinksi denies he ever intended to put the girl in contact with the alleged predator. He said he only planned to ask the teen if the man knew her real age and to confront him if she said yes.
He messaged the girl but didn’t hear back and did not pursue it further, he said.
Asked what he meant when he wrote that he wouldn’t go to police until “she’s already talking to him,” he said was referring to the friend who brought the matter to his attention.
Chinksi blamed the allegations on a “disgruntled ex-volunteer” who “is just trying to make creep catchers look bad.”
‘Stop before you bury yourself’
Since she went to police and voiced her concerns on Facebook, the Red Deer woman said she’s received threatening voice messages from the group’s Calgary-based founder, Dawson Raymond.
‘All I’m saying is if you badmouth one of our boys, well, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen what happens to people who do these kind of things.’ – Dawson Raymond, Creep Catcher founder
In one message, obtained by CBC News, Raymond says: “Cut the shit, alright? Stop badmouthing Tahner. Stop the shit or you know what’s gonna happen. You’re not gonna like it, OK? I’m not making any threats at all. All I’m saying is if you badmouth one of our boys, well, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen what happens to people who do these kind of things.”
In another, he says: “Keep your nose outta shit…. I’m telling you right now, stop before you bury yourself.”
Raymond, who also goes by the name Johnathan Janson, refused to comment.
“I’m not feeding into this hate anymore. I don’t care if it’s news reporters, I don’t care if it’s public, I don’t care who it is,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”
‘I know where you live’
The former Red Deer Creep Catcher is not the only woman who has faced backlash from the group for speaking out.
Mira, a former member of the Edmonton chapter who asked that her real name not be used, says she received what she perceives as a threat from chapter president John Doep after she and her partner spoke out about a video of a woman with a history of depression and homelessness who later took her own life.
The message from Doep, who also goes by the name O Nigel Woolcox, reads: “Hope you guys get a visit from my friend tonight 🙂 (Good thing I know where you live hey).”
“I felt that that was inappropriate,” Mira said. “I’m a woman with a kid, and I’m alone.”
Doep said the message was not a threat and is being taken “out of context.” He refused to elaborate and asked that CBC News refrain from contacting him further.
Meanwhile, the Red Deer woman says she’s locked her social media accounts and changed her name on Facebook to protect herself.
“I’m terrified of Creep Catchers,” she said. “I’m terrified of their supporters.”
For the full story please visit CBC.ca