By David F. Rooney
The RCMP in Revelstoke and Kamloops are looking into Creep Catchers’ allegations that a Revelstoke man had attempted to lure what he thought was a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship.
“I can say there is an ongoing investigation in Kamloops regarding the occurrence and that we have a subsequent RCMP Revelstoke file to determine if there is any luring or another Criminal Code offence in Revelstoke,” Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky said in an interview on Monday, October 17.
Luring a child is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, which has this to say about it:
Luring a child
172.1 (1) Every person commits an offence who, by means of a computer system within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2), communicates with
(a) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of eighteen years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under subsection 153(1), section 155 or 163.1, subsection 212(1) or (4) or section 271, 272 or 273 with respect to that person;
(b) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 16 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 151 or 152, subsection 160(3) or 173(2) or section 280 with respect to that person; or
(c) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 14 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 281 with respect to that person.
(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 90 days.
Presumption re age
(3) Evidence that the person referred to in paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) was represented to the accused as being under the age of eighteen years, sixteen years or fourteen years, as the case may be, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the accused believed that the person was under that age.
(4) It is not a defence to a charge under paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) that the accused believed that the person referred to in that paragraph was at least eighteen years of age, sixteen years or fourteen years of age, as the case may be, unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the person.
On October 11, the Creep Catchers Kamloops chapter posted a video of the man, a 47-year-old trucker, as they confronted him in Aberdeen Mall. They escorted him outside the mall and proceeded to question him. A few minutes later he said he wanted to go home, walked to his vehicle and drove away.
The video they posted includes a log of all of the texts he had sent the ‘girl,’ who was actually an adult Creep Catchers member.
Creep Catchers Kamloops member John Catcher said in an interview that members troll through chat and dating sites posing as young girls. When they locate an adult male in Kamloops pr a nearby community who is actually seeking sex with an underage girl they… strike. They gather evidence in the form of explicit text messages and photos from their mark, then set up a public meeting place. And, when he appears, they confront the man. Their videos are posted immediately to the Videme video service and they encourage people to let their victims know that their behaviour is beyond the bounds.
He acknowledged that there have sometimes been unintended consequences. In Alberta in August a woman who was targeted by Creep Catchers Edmonton committed suicide after being identified online. Friends and family members said she was mentally ill.
Catcher said he and members of his group research the predators they encounter as thoroughly as possible to avoid situations like that.
The fact that an RCMP officer in Surrey has been charged with luring in connection with a recent Creep Catchers video had done nothing to undermine the organization’s credibility. Nor has it been hurt by the Kelowna chapter’s video of a BC Interior sheriff caught in August. There are plenty of people who believe that child sex offenders get off easy in this country. That enrages many people.
“The RCMP is always aware of things that are posted to Facebook (and other social media),” Grabinsky said.
“Creep Catchers has been vocal, recently. They have conducted their projects on a few people and it has attracted a lot of attention. We found out about it on the 11th and we immediately opened a file and started our investigation with Kamloops… At this point we are gathering information and determining our next steps.
“I am not a supporter of vigilante activity. Police exist for a reason. They’re trained… They have support… If we were doing something like this we’d probably use undercover officers that are trained.
“The days when you take somebody who has done something bad out back behind the barn and never tell the police doesn’t work anymore.”
He said police need to know what happens in our community because then they can track it thoroughly, whereas vigilante activity may feel satisfying, but it’s basically a one-off.
“We live in a small town,” he said. “And in a small town some things are just dealt with. When the neighbour’s child does something you don’t necessarily call the police. You talk the parents and you talk to the child and work it out. At a certain level that has value. But if somebody’s conducting himself in a completely inappropriate way as far as society’s concerned, the best people to deal with that I believe — I know! — are the police.”