Who’s the predator and who’s the prey?

I’ve been meaning to weigh in on the NBC Dateline Predator series for some time now. Like many others, I’ve been captivated by the show, whose premise is to lure Internet predators to a sexual rendezvous with an underage boy or girl.

Instead, when they arrive at the ‘victim’s’ house, the men (and they’re always men) encounter anTt9321  NBC Dateline film crew and correspondent. They’re immediately interrogated, usually reduced to a tearful confession and then told they’re free to leave. Instead, a group of burly, local cops, skulking right outside the home, toss the bad guys down on the ground and arrest them.

Now, this obviously makes for great television. And Dateline and its partner in the show, Perverted Justice, which helps identify and invite these guys to the "teen’s" home are providing a genuine public service.

But, the more I see the show, the more I see the lines being blurred. The Perverted Justice actors are so good at portraying young and willing sexual partners that, in my mind, they come mighty close to entrapment. Most of the predators are sleazy guys who’ve had a history of scrapes with the law, etc. Others, though, are seemingly upstanding citizens. There have been Iraqi War veterans, smart and seemingly sophisticated white collar workers and loads of guys who seem to be your normal, well adjusted family man caught in the Predator trap. And, now, courtesy of Dateline and Perverted Justice, their lives have been turned upside down. One public official actually committed suicide just as his house was being surrounded by local law enforcement officers and Dateline.

So, who’s the predator and who’s the prey? Is Dateline going too far in doing good? They’re clearly helping to put bad guys away and, hopefully, deterring others from entering chat rooms and trying to hook-up with kids. But, are the methods they use kosher? Is it cool to ruin people’s reputations and, in at least one case, a person’s life?

It’s an interesting image and reputation question since, in my mind, there is at least a suggestion/possibility of entrapment going on here. I’d be interested in knowing what others think.

12 thoughts on “Who’s the predator and who’s the prey?

  1. What I’d like to know is WHAT these so-called female “models” look like. Do they look 14 or 24? Are they 14 or 24? Are there pictures of them on the web that I can see for myself?

  2. Hey, yeah. I’ve actually been debating the work that PJ.com does with somebody else. Some of the info I’ve dug up has been excessively disturbing. People later determined innocent, having their careers/credibility destroyed. In-person/phone/snailmail harassment of ‘offenders’ and their families. Don’t get me wrong, real paedos need to die horribly, preferably in a fire, but these PervertedJustice kooks aren’t the guys to do it.

  3. The thing that bothers me is that the ‘decoy’ pretends to be a willing participant. She doesn’t say I am not interested or don’t come over, she actually invites the person over with promises of sex. These men see this as a mutual thing in there distorted minds. The man doesn’t track down or trick an unwilling girl into giving them there home address and finding them on there own. They think they have a girl who really wants to meet them. I know there is some awful people out there who pretend to be 14 yr old boys wanting to meet 14 yr old girls and when they meet the ‘boy’ turns out to be a 44 yr old man. Go after these creeps. This is not the case here. The ones you see on the Dateline show are not those kind of predators. they show up only because they have been invited. Dateline is targeting the wrong people. In most cases they are man with a problem and need help but don’t deserve this. Go catch the real sex offenders. these men are just pathetic losers who fell for a very clever actress promising them a fantasy that will never come true.

  4. Kevin (and others),
    For someone that is suppose to have over 30 years experience, you have alot to learn.
    First, you may wish to pick up a book and start reading. Start with “The Entrapment Defense” by Paul Marcus. You may be interested in discovering that predisposition is NOT always a requirement for entrapment. The State of Michigan for example focuses solely on the conduct of the police officers.
    Also, here’s a couple of cases for you to ponder. First, take a look at the case of People v Poehlman, 217 F.3d 692 where the Federal Courts ruled that Poehlman was entrapped as a result of the police officers gross misconduct. The case of Peohlman is similar to the case of David Rauch in that a mother was looking for a sexual partner for her children. As put by the court, “[T]he government induces a crime when it creates a special incentive for the defendant to commit the crime. This incentive can consist of anything that materially alters the balance of risks and rewards bearing on defendant’s decision whether to commit the offense, so as to increase the likelihood that he will engage in the particular criminal conduct… Whether the police did more than provide an opportunity – whether they actually induced the crime, as that term is used in our entrapment jurisprudence – depends on whether they employed some form of suasion that materially affected tah “self struggle” to resist ordinary temptations… While parental consent is not a defense to statutory rape, it nevertheless can have an effect on the “self-struggle” to resist ordinary temptations.” (quoting Sherman, 356 US at 384, 78 S.Ct. 819. This is particularly so where the parent does not merely consent but casts the activity as an act of parental responsibility and the selection of a sexual mentor as an expression of friendship and confidence. Not only did this diminish the risk of detection, it also allayed fears defendant might have had that the activities would be harmful, distasteful or inappropriate.”
    I would, also, like to point out: “The function of law enforcement is the prevention of crime and the apprehension of criminals. Manifestly, that function does not include the manufacturing of crime… A question is presented when the criminal design originates with the officials of the government, and they implant in the mind of an innocent person the disposition to commit the alleged offense and induce its commission in order that THEY may prosecute. Then stealth and strategy become as objectionable police methods as the coerced confession and the unlawful search” (Sherman v United States, 78 S.Ct. 819, 820)
    Gee… I guess not EVERYONE has been looking for underage victims, right Stacy? (but keep in mind these men all have to be looking for some sort of interaction with underage participants in the first place.)
    Take a case back in 2000. A guy is in a Chicago hotel room late at night. On AOL he starts his own chat room titled “Chicago Hotel Alone”. Hmmm… sound like he is looking for sex with a minor? Doesn’t look like it to me.
    Anyway, this guy is contacted by Helen Glenn of San Bernadino, CA. She’s a dominatrix. The guy responds that he is interested in her. But the dominatrix later states that she has a young dominatrix in training. She asks the guy if he is interested in helping and also stated “you wouldnt believe how many of my slaves have been begging to be with her” and, of course, he agrees. Helen then goes on to list several items that are needed for the training, defining what they are used for, and detailing where the items can be acquired. Oh… and by the way… the young dom is her daughter and she’s 13.
    Helen asks the guy to send her an e-mail later asking for a story using the listed items and how the young dom will use them. After a week passes, Helen gets no response and sends an e-mail asking where the letter is. Still no response so Helen sends another e-mail. Finally, she gets a response to her pestering.
    So we have parental consent. But wait… we’re just getting started. And keep in mind… “Helen” initiated contact… and… for the record… initiated every contact thereafter.
    Shortly into the next conversations, “Helen” asked the guy if he had a video camera. Even though he did, he said, “No.” Then “Helen” asked if he had a digital camera to which he replied that he did, but didn’t know where it was. Throughout the conversations over the next few weeks, “Helen” told the guy to find his digital camera… not just once… but over 15 TIMES!!! She even went as far as to suggest that he purchase a Polaroid camera and use a scanner to send pictures over the internet.
    In the Poehlman case, that stated that sympathy and psychological pressure can be used to induce people to commit a crime. Was that used here? Well, this guy was constantly told how EXCITED Pamela was to have finally found someone. The guy was told that Pamela went shopping for a new outfit just for the occasion and even went to the beauty parlor in preparation for their meeting.
    “Helen” in talking about her daughter, once told the guy, “she is worried that she isn’t developed enough to please you” and “Pamela” once stated, “wouldnt you rather be with a woman with big boobs? min are small :-(”
    But where was the meeting to take place? In a hotel room, of course. Well, actually, 2 hotel rooms (one for Helen and one for Pamela) Logical, right? Who’s paying for the room? “Helen” asked the guy to HELP pay for the room and that she would book the room. Later she said, “Dont stand us up, its gonna cost about $75.00 for the room.” (that’s $150.00 for the two rooms in order to pressure this guy into making sure he shows up.)
    Even though Michigan does not look at a person’s predisposition, here’s a couple of more facts. In a conversation the guy had with the daughter, Pamela, “Pamela” asked the guy why he felt safe with her. His reply was, “your mom is asking for this. That’s what makes it different. If you had come to me first, I probably would not meet you”. Furthermore, “Helen” discovered that the guy was talking to a 15-year-old that lived close to him. When asked why he was not going after her, he responded, “Because of her age.”
    The guy’s attorney convinced the guy to plead guilty to the 3 charges against him. (this was not a plea bargain) He convinced him by telling him that if he didn’t plead guilty he would get more time. With the plea, he was suppose to get 3 years. What he didn’t know is that once you’re under the Department of Corrections, you may never get out until you’ve served your maximum term (20 years in this case – a small detail his attorney neglected to inform him of). During his plea, the guy was asked if he was pleading voluntarily to which the guy replied, “I don’t have a choice, I guess.” Judge Schnelz was suppose to stop the plea right there, but continued. It was in his best political interested to convict this guy of crimes he did not commit, I guess. Oh, and if you don’t believe me that this guy plead guilty to crimes he did not commit, well, check the records at the Michigan Court of Appeals where they stated so.
    This guy was incarcerated for over 5 years (Over 3 years in prison, and 2 years parole.)
    But that’s not the end of the story. The guy had two little girls and lived with his girlfriend. So they decided to take them away from him, too. I’ll make this short.
    In a couple of e-mails from the girlfriend to the guys mother, she wrote, “You’re right about the extortion. The threatened to take my kids away from me if I do not cooperate with them.” and “Do you think I want to see something happen to him? No. But I can not help him. They will take my kids away if I do.”
    Also, the government housed the girlfriend in an apartment. That apartment just happened to be above a Sheriff’s Department north of Oxford, MI. They, also, bribed her with a job at the Family Independence Agency. And rumor has it that she now works for the Oakland County Court in Pontiac, MI.
    Legal Malpractice? No. The courts eliminated legal malpractice by stating that an attorney can not be held accountable for using poor judgment. Gee, isn’t an attorney’s job to use good judgment? Anyway, in Michigan you do not have the right to the effective assistance of council.
    Well, I think I’ve posted enough facts to bore all of you. But what really gets me angry is how you all think you know what’s going on. Kevin, you’re just like the media… give only part of the information. Especially if you think it will make you look good (and get ratings).
    Bottom line: stop using your “hypothetical” guesses on what’s really happening. Get the facts. Was David Rauch entrapped? I don’t know. I don’t have the facts… yet. And I’m smart enough to know that I’m not going to get them from the media.

  5. Hi Steve,
    I was just referred over to your blog and saw this entry. As someone with over 30 years experience in this area, hopefully I can help you with you concerns regarding entrapment.
    First, only law enforcement or their agents can commit entrapment. Although law enforcement benefits from this activity, law enforcement does not enlist their help and/or direct their activities. So, no problem there.
    Second, in order for someone to be entrapped, they must demonstrate that the police induced them to commit a crime that they were otherwise unwilling to commit. So, since they are already “where they don’t belong” that argument’s gone.
    Finally, the last aspect of entrapment is when a person is pre-disposed to commit a crime, offering them the opportunity to actually commit the crime is not entrapment.
    Your concern that they, “are so good at portraying young and willing sexual partners that, in my mind, they come mighty close to entrapment” shouldn’t concern you at all because as non-law enforcement, they can’t commit entrapment. Even if they were law enforcement, it wouldn’t cross any lines, it just means they’re good at what they do. Think of it in the context that if I look really strung out and know the right words to use to get someone to sell me dope and they do, it’s perfectly legal. Or, if a female police officer dresses up like a hooker and stands on the street where other hookers are and a guy drives up and offers her money for sex, off he goes to jail too.
    At the end of the day, I’m not too worried about someone’s life getting ruined because they got busted for trying to have sex with a child. Maybe it would help if I put it into perspective for you and you understood that NONE of these guys are first time offenders. It’s only the first time they’ve been caught.
    Hope this helps!

  6. What about this story…this executive had a conversation on-line with the Mother who was working a sting…Who stung Who.
    The chief executive of a small Warren-based credit union faces sex and drug charges after Macomb County sheriff’s deputies arrested him for allegedly trying to arrange sex with a 5-year-old girl.
    David Lance Rauch, 53, of Clinton Township, was arraigned Thursday in the township’s 41-B District Court on one count of child sexually abusive activity, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime and one count of manufacturing marijuana.
    He is in the Macomb County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bond.
    Sheriff Mark Hackel said this is his office’s first case in which a man allegedly tried to arrange sex with a minor through a parent, let alone sex with a child that young. “We’ve heard the stories, and we know it’s out there, but this is a first for us,” Hackel said. “It’s shocking.”
    Rauch’s wife, Janet, said Thursday her husband did not intend to have sex with a child and that she was surprised at the charges that were filed. She also was trying to get a lawyer for her husband.
    “A mistake has been made,” she said. “I know he’s innocent. That’s all I want to say about it.”
    Police say David Rauch, CEO of Tandem Federal Credit Union, first made contact in late October with a person he believed was the mother of a young girl. He actually was chatting with a member of the Macomb Area Computer Enforcement team, which routinely runs online stings to catch sexual predators.
    Rauch was arrested Wednesday when, according to the sheriff’s office, he arrived at a home looking to have sex with the child. Officers later searched Rauch’s home and found marijuana plants growing in a sunroom.
    Tandem FCU has more than $26.5 million in assets and more than 4,700 members, the National Credit Union Association reports. It was chartered in 1941.
    A woman who answered the phone at the credit union Thursday said it had no comment.

  7. deb- you make some great points- these guys are all trash and deserve to go to jail for a long time. i just read that one guy got 6 years in the slammer for being nabbed.
    here is my question that i am not sure has been clarified on the show. it “appears” that all of these guys are found in internet chat rooms used exclusively by teens (and predators). but in order to find the preadtors, i am also sure that the “13 year olds” are chatting with other teens in the chat room before they weed them out to find the adult predators. so what becomes of all the actual teens they chat with- do they just string them along or do anyone of them ever try to show up?
    and here is the problem that i have with this- u have adults acting as kids to lure other adults, and one thing that you hear over and over about the net is that people think of it almost as a fantasy world. in cyberspace, every guy can be 27, 6’1, muscular build, harvard graduate, and every girl can be america’s next top model. and too often, people get lost and tangled up in this fantasy web it almost becomes reality to them. so when the predator shows up, it is certainly possible that some of them- a small percentage, think this is a set up and wanna see if everything in cyber space is just a game or if anyone tells the truth. the ones that come with condoms, etc, we know what they want. but the ones that bring the burger and fries- i am just not sure. maybe some of them really weren’t going to do anything and the law is such that just showing intent is enough to put them away for many years. but how do we know actual intent when its possible that these “adult predators” could just be doing what the decoy was- role playing on the net.

  8. I watch this show as does my 16-year-old daughter and husband. I disagree…TOUGH on the predators….I couldn’t care less if they commit suicide or if their lives are ruined. They are absolutely disgusting and, if not for Dateline, they would still be out there preying on young girls. I applaud Dateline…they’ve done more good in this area than anyone and have tremendously helped the police.
    As far as I’m concerned, the predators are all trash, regardless of their background and NONE are upstanding citizens. They all belong in jail. And, as we know, sexual predators cannot be rehabilitated. And, unfortunately, they get out of jail pretty quickly. Dateline should spin off a group just dedicated to this so that they could do this 24/7/365. Even then, you’ll still have too many trash walking the streets.
    What Dateline is doing is NOT entrapment. These pieces of trash should not be engaging in any sexual conversations with underaged girls…period.
    It’s amazing that when they’re each interviewed by Dateline, they all say that they weren’t planning to do anything but talk, even when Chris Hanson reads them the sexually explicit transcripts. Yet, the police always find condoms, beer, etc. in their cars/trucks.
    I can only hope that each piece of trash commits suicide as soon as possible…it’s the only way we can prevent them from repeating this horrific crime.
    Kudos to Dateline!

  9. TV worthy? That doesn’t make a bit of difference. Half the shows on TV are more “Dumpster Worthy” than TV worthy. (The point is they are “Advertiser Worthy”.) And I don’t give a hoot if it’s entrapment or not. I don’t even care if it’s downright illegal. This show is nabbing pedophiles and whatever it takes to get those sick, dangerous and perverted people far, far away from our children is worth it. I say that one guy who committed suicide is (as goes the joke “What do you call a swimming pool half filled with dead lawyers?”) a good start.

  10. excellent post and great points. like you, i watch the show and am always fascinated by it, and even more shocked when the poor shmuck shows up and says he has watched the show before! i have always said that it looks like entrapement and would be interested to see if these “13 year olds” are actually the ones dropping the bait. if they are, and the guy goes over, sure he has problems, but your right repman, the bait might be coming to close to entrapment.

  11. Great points, Stacy. If you have a chance, read the front page story in today Times. It lists a number of “over-the-line” transgressions that the Perverted-Justice people take to lure the internet predators to the teen’s homes in the first place. I agree that the adults are at fault and should pay. But, the tactics by Dateline and Perverted-Justice are questionable. And, as you said, how many times can we watch these guys be trapped (or entrapped as the case may be) before it all becomes a big ratings yawn?

  12. I do see your point about entrapment, but keep in mind these men all have to be looking for some sort of interaction with underage participants in the first place. If this were, say, a prostitution set-up (i.e. the actors were prostitutes just trying to catch cheating men), I would agree that it crosses the line. But, there is something wrong with a man who is looking for anything–a chat, phone or in-person relationship–with a minor, period.
    I think another interesting reputation issue is to consider is whether or not Dateline is minimalizing its journalistic integrity (if it had any in the first place) for continuing the series at this point. It’s no longer newsworthy or new—it’s spoofed on SNL, and the show needs to come up with fresh content. That doesn’t mean these stings shouldn’t still happen, but I don’t think they’re TV-worthy.