Mar 032004
 
Authors: James Baetke

A web group is combing the nation attempting to catch supposed

“wannabe pedophiles.”

The group posts personal information, pictures and electronic

messaging logs of men duped into believing they were having sexual

correspondence with young girls.

The Web site is perverted-justice.com and the Web site’s members

profiled more than 20 men from Colorado and one individual from

Fort Collins. Nearly 600 logs are in the PJ database.

Primarily in chat rooms, undercover busters pose as young girls

about 13 or 14 years old and trick men into believing they are

interested in meeting for sex.

Joe Parris, a supervisor and special agent for the Federal

Bureau of Investigation’s pressroom, said it is important to notice

that the Web site and law enforcement use different techniques in

catching those associated with pedophilia.

“The FBI is aware of the existence of Perverted Justice and what

they report to accomplish through outing people as sex predators on

the Internet,” Parris said.

The creator of the site, Xavier Von Erck, who would not confirm

this as his real name, dismissed claims that his site is illegal

and denies it is a form of entrapment. “My mom calls me this

(Xavier) but this is not what the government knows me by,” Von Erck

said. “If it were illegal I would be in jail or sued by now.”

The Web site is not affiliated with any type of child advocacy

program, nor has it been backed by any state or federal agency, Von

Erck said.

Since its creation in July 2002, Von Erck has made this site his

own. Von Erck also claims no one makes any type of monetary gain

from the site.

“I would say it is a crusade. A moral crusade,” Von Erck said,

when asked why he is putting so much time and effort into such a

controversial site.

Von Erck adamantly denies that undercover volunteers initiate

private instant messages, but admitted that they will give out

their age, location and gender in a general chat where everyone can

see the post.

“The first person to initiate conversation is the person we post

(on the Web site),” Von Erck said.

Some opponents of the site call the members behind PJ vigilantes

or witch-hunters looking to tar and feather men.

“Rick” is such an opponent to the site. Fearing harassment and

harm, Rick, a resident of Canada, requested his real name not be

published, stating he could be in real danger.

Rick believes those working for the site are taking the law into

their own hands and have no right to inappropriately expose men all

over the Internet.

“Perverted Justice is a mere club house for stalkers and sexual

role players, law school drop outs and costume sleuths,” Rick

said.

Nationally, some law enforcement office have praised the Web

site while others have condemned it for using methods not supported

by typical police tactics.

“Perverted Justice is not constrained by the Constitution, the

rules of certain procedures, the rules of probable cause and

acceptable law techniques, all of which are the safeguards that are

in place when law enforcement investigates a crime in society,”

Parris said.

Parris points out law techniques like search warrants being

reviewed or probable cause being initiated.

“We encourage the public to bring allegations of pedophilia to

local law enforcement or the FBI,” Parris said.

According to Von Erck 10 or 12 men logged on the site are

currently involved in police investigations. He also said a man

from Colorado who had been out on the street for 13 days after

being released from jail was caught trying to meet with one of PJ’s

contributors. He was later caught by the police and jailed, Von

Erck said.

Many e-mail accounts and phone numbers based on the personal

information listed on the log of those profiled have been

disconnected or cancelled.

“To me, this site is nothing more than a neighborhood watch,”

Von Erck said.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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