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U.S. Justice System Reckons With Spike in Vigilante Predator ‘Stings’

There is a renewed wave of ‘vigilante justice’ targeting predators across the country, the Washington Post reports. According to a Post analysis, “at least 160 groups have been ‘catching predators’ in the United States,’ and one online tracker, Preds Exposed, claims to have counted nearly a thousand amateur stings of sexual predators. Self-described predator catchers argue that they are “raising awareness about online safety, empowering survivors to speak up and making potential child abusers think twice before lurking online.” 

And while police and prosecutors have long warned of the potential dangers of this kind of self-directed justice, with some of the most recent vigilante stings allegedly resulting in the defamation of innocent people, sexual assault of female supporters and near death experiences, they have been increasingly willing to file charges against their targets, in what Bryan Harper, commander of Indiana’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force, described to the Post as “behind-the-scenes condoning.”

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