The Fraser Valley chapter of the controversial group Creep Catchers have posted video of their latest sting operation in Abbotsford, which may have implicated a school principal in luring an underage child.
While Creep Catchers has made mistakes in the past identifying the subjects of their videos, some parents are convinced the man shown in the latest video is a Lower Mainland elementary school principal. Now, police and school officials are investigating.
The video was taken Oct. 14 in the food court at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre in Abbotsford. The man identified himself as “James,” a 33-year-old biologist.
A woman named Marie working with Fraser Valley Creep Catchers posed as a teenage girl online to lure James. She says she didn’t know the man was possibly a principal until she read Facebook posts about him.
“They use that position of trust to gain the trust of these vulnerable children,” she told Global News.
Marie has now turned over evidence to Abbotsford police, including chat logs and video.
One mother, who doesn’t want to be identified, says she has two children who attend the same school.
“A friend sent me a text that said, ‘Isn’t this the principal at your school,’ and she sent me a link to a video. I watched it and I was surprised, and yes that is.”
This isn’t the first time Creep Catchers has named high-profile individuals as the subjects of their stings.
Surrey RCMP officer Dario Devic has been taken off duty and charged with luring a child. He had also been charged with breach of trust, but last week the Crown dropped that charge.
In the wake of the suicide of a woman portrayed in a Creep Catchers’ video, Alberta police harshly criticized the group, calling them vigilantes.
“Individuals running Creep Catchers are about being judge, jury and executioner,” said acting Staff Sgt. Stephen Camp with ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) team.
ICE investigators are the experts in child sex cases. They say Creep Catchers constantly disrupt their work and have even caused predators to move on and re-offend in other provinces.
“The harm this group is causing to the public and law enforcement and injustice is just wrong,” Camp said.
While their actions are controversial, this mother supports their work.
“It can be controversial, but anything that keeps my children safer and me in the know is good for me.”
Police say they are now investigating. The school superintendent has also released a statement saying:
“The school district is aware of the video and is conducting an investigation. Due to protection of privacy legislation, the district is not able to comment any further at this time.
— With files from Grace Ke, Kendra Slugoski and Caley Ramsay
Correction: An earlier headline suggested Fraser Valley Creep Catchers had identified the man in the video as an elementary school principal. It was actually parents who made the connection. Creep Catchers say they had no idea the man’s true identity or profession at the time of their sting. We regret the implication.