Why don’t you just take a seat over here? It’s hard to think of the people on ‘To Catch a Predator” leading normal lives with friends and family. But some of them do, and sometimes they hear about it in the worst way possible.
Here, friends and relatives of people caught red handed by Chris Hansen share their stories. Check out the sources at the bottom for more.
1. Oy gevalt…
One of the rabbis from my synagogue was caught on To Catch a Predator. I remember him being a nice, friendly guy, and my family always said hello to him after Shabbat services.
I was only 10 when the scandal broke. I remember my parents ushering my sister and me out of the kitchen so they could watch the episode, but they told me an abridged version of what had happened. He never seemed “off” to me, but then again, he was trying to have sex with a boy, and I’m a girl. What’s also horrible is that he officiated plenty of weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, so I’m sure those memories are tainted for a ton of people.
2. Caught at the office.
A few years ago my company hired this guy and he was working in my department, he was in his late 20s and very friendly. He was a little odd and I never liked him personally, he gave me a weird vibe and I felt he was hiding something and trying too hard.
Anyways, three years ago he gets fired after they caught him watching hard core porn and using the company’s back up system to make more copies. They only noticed because he attached a porn movie (by accident) to a report that was going to be sent to a client. After he was gone the company decided to dig a little deeper and long and behold the dude not only was a registered predator but he was also caught in that TV show. We don’t know what happened to him but last I heard he was pushed out of his apartment because he was not supposed to be living near a school. So yeah..
3. Waiting for the ball to drop.
When I was a senior in high school, one of my teachers wound up being on the show. He was a great teacher, everyone loved him. He never gave off any creepy vibes to me personally.
Then one week, he started being really strange. Not really teaching, just assigning us things and just sitting at his desk doing nothing. Then the news broke about what happened, and we had a substitute teacher for the rest of the year.
It was really hard to watch that episode. I mean, EVERYONE from school did. But it was weird to see him in that situation because he really was one of my favourite teachers
4. To catch an Elvis impersonator.
It’s a stretch to call us friends, but a classmate. We were paired off in our senior seminar, our theses were the most similar so he was my partner. Just meant that every couple weeks we had to proof/give feedback for half an hour of class time.
Dude gave me the willies. Did the impossibly styled Rockabilly thing, was a walking Henry Winkler impression decades after the Fonze. Just odd. I was the type of 22 year old who looks 12. He’d do the intense eye contact, superficially sincere compliment thing to me. Stuff like “You’ve got the most innocent face. Really, I mean that” in a creepy, way too seriously hushed voice. His written notes on my thesis tended toward “We should talk about this after class.” Yeah, no. (Story continues…)
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A couple years later Dateline came to town and curiosity got the better of me. I remember them teasing with a Rockabilly biker type in the preview and it hit me. Found my old notes during the commercial break. Names matched. Can’t remember much of what happened on the show: he tried to compensate the humiliation with cockiness; talked about having a girlfriend; tried downing chips and drinks with Chris Hansen like it was no big deal.
That’s all I remember about that. I was shocked. Not that he’d get caught on Dateline, but more about seeing someone I knew on television. Also felt really, really, really bad for him. Worse than secondhand embarrassment, this was just plain old mortification. Let me stress: I did not like the guy, but in no way did I want to see his life ruined for entertainment. Never watched it since.
5. Babysitting nightmare.
I babysat the children of a Dad who was caught by the Canadian version. I saw it on youtube a few years ago. I wouldn’t have been sure it was him(he had a new haircut) except they mentioned his city, his job, and the number of children he had and their genders.
It was a pretty big shock, the kid he was caught with was a girl about the age I had been when I took care of his kids. I have never been thankful for being an ugly teenager until then. I still think about his kids and hope to god he didn’t hurt any of them. I hope he never got to hurt any kid. It was a really freaky moment because my memories of him would never have indicated that he would be able to do something like that. Shows you how wrong about people you can be.
6. The sins of the father.
I wasn’t his friend, but I was friends with his son. His son went to middle school with me and everyone in our whole community knew exactly what happened way before the episode actually aired. (I’ve actually never seen the episode myself).
The guy (let’s call him Ryan) was so embarrassed by what his dad did and was getting teased so relentlessly he stopped coming to school for a couple years and the re-emerged in ninth grade and by that time people were more mature and even though people would occasionally mention it nobody gave him too hard of a time about it. He was dating a girl in my P.E class and she said he has no relationship with his dad at all and his family has considered changing their last name, which is kind of sad that they were that haunted by this situation.
Also, people have said that his mom tried to commit suicide but idk if that’s true. Overall, from being a friend to someone in that situation I’d say that while it probably has lowered the amount of people booking up with kids, it also puts a huge burden of family members of these people when they are innocent.
I mean yeah, Ryan turned out okay but he missed like all of middle school and can never get those experiences back and if it’s true his mom tried to off herself I’m sure that’s something that weighed heavy on their family. It probably would have been way easier to cope if the whole world hasn’t witnessed their tragedy.
7. The person you least suspect.
Back in my college days I was good friends with someone that was caught in one of their sting operations. We drifted apart after we graduated though. Well, actually, we drifted apart and then he dropped off the face of the planet. I only found out about it in like 2013 when I was watching To Catch a Predator on Youtube.
It was really shocking because it was completely unexpected. He had never indicated to me that he liked young girls, hell, I remember him being into older women. I even fixed his laptop a few times for extra money, and I never found any pictures of underaged girls. (Story continues…)
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In all the years I knew him he seemed completely normal, he had a girlfriend that was his own age too. His social life was pretty good, definitely not an outcast. I remember one Halloween, me, him and some other friends dressed up as The Clash. Then he got really drunk and started to sing it, even though he was dressed up as Paul Simonon, not Joe Strummer.
He’s probably out of prison now, but I haven’t bothered to re-establish contact. I mean, it would just be so bizarre, the topic would be brought up eventually.
8. Deep under-cover.
I know an undercover cop who is the one who goes into parks, etc… and draws in these types of people. The man looks like he’s under 18 somehow.
He said it’s sickening doing his job and having to go along with it until the law has been broken and the arrest can be made.
It takes forever for charges to usually stick on people because normally deals are offered and it is pleaded down to disorderly conduct instead of a sexual charge.
Believe it or not when it comes time for court it is very common for the man’s wife to try to fist fight him because she is in denial that her husband was arrested for something like that.
He also said it’s not so uncommon for the husband to be arrested multiple times for the same thing and the wife still try to fight him…that’s how strong the denial is. He has also caught so many powerful people in elected positions and they usually get right off the hook.
9. Finding out in the worst way.
He was one my dad’s friends. Nice guy, had kids of his own. When I knew him he worked in a machine shop but his true passion was teaching. He later moved across the country to take a teaching job.
We didn’t know anything about it until the episode had aired and it quickly got around that he was on it. I’m not really sure if charges were filed or if he ever saw a judge. I do know that he lost his entire family and his job. No idea what became of him after that.
I kind of felt bad for him. I know what he did was wrong and I can’t honestly believe he would do something so stupid. He never had a creepy vibe or anything. It never made any sense. So many mixed emotions…
10. Using your intuition.
I was in Scouts since kindergarten with this girl, so I knew her and her sisters well. Her mom was always really nice and quiet when she would pick her daughter up from troop meetings. I met her dad a few times and nothing seemed off about him to me. I mean, I was only a kid at the time so my frame of reference for creeps wasn’t too big. (Story continues…)
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When I was in 7th or 8th grade our leader sent all the parents a news article. Apparently that girl’s father (who at the time was a school administrator… pretty high up on the Board of Education) was involved in a sting operation, during which he chatted online with several detectives who were posing as underage girls. He transmitted images of his private parts and engaged in graphic sex talk. He was sentenced to about 10 or so years in prison and has years of probation after that. His kids ended up transferring to a different district after that school year.
11. Awkward talk at the water cooler.
My friend went to the school where that high school teacher worked when he got busted on the show. It was one of the southern California episodes.
She actually had him for a class, and apparently the school didn’t find out until a day or two so he actually went to work the next day. She said he was somber and weird all period, and then just never returned.
12. Peter Pan syndrome.
He wasn’t on TV, but a guy I went to school with my whole life, who literally lived 6 houses up from mine, was just let out of jail. He’s my age (24), and hung with the 13-year-old girls at the mall. He would buy them alcohol and stay at motels with them.
I never thought the dude was creepy, just maybe awkward or kinda weird. Everyone else thought he was creepy though (at least that’s what everyone said when they were talking about it.) But after high school, he suddenly became a “musician” and dressing all punk, while hanging out with girls 10 years younger than him. He wasn’t cool in high school, but I imagine he was the coolest damn guy in the world for buying those girls booze and singing in a screamo duet.
One of the girls eventually confessed to her dad about him. He served only a 150-day sentence in jail for a whole bunch of sex offences, despite the parents of the girls saying that was too short.
13. The tooth is hard to hear.
About 10 years ago a local orthodontist got caught sending explicit texts to his younger clients, particularly this one young teen girl. He sent many many photos and was eventually found out when he also got caught on one of the local news stations’ variation of ‘To Catch a Predator’. Not much happened to him throughout all this. Maybe they settled out of court or charges were never pressed. (Story continues…)
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Anyways, the dude is actually the father of a child in a mom group that my own daughter is a part of. The mother of this child (they aren’t married) is actually good friends with my wife. He isn’t allowed in our home because I think he’s a creep, but I hear that was all in his past.
14. I don’t even want to imagine the nicknames…
When I was just outta High School by I think a year or two. A friend of ours wasn’t on To Catch a Predator, but the local News basically did the same thing. The ‘set-up’ was a bit hazy as that wasn’t what we all focused on at the time. But basically friend was setup for sex with a minor. He was I think 18 or 19, and she was around 15, 14. Either way he shows up, news is there, I don’t think police were involved in this. Try to talk to him, he of course runs. Afterwards because of the news posting some information posted that shouldn’t have, he ended up suing and winning some money.
All our friends were….Shocked isn’t the right word, and neither is surprised. I can say we lit him up about it for a year or two. It was always mean jokes towards him for it, but in the way guys rib each other. I think the age difference between him and her was in an area where it wasn’t complete and utter disgust. But it also could be we were barely adults and our moral compass wasn’t great. As well as we just left High School and the age of the girl would of been a class mate. I’m not sure, and I’m not trying to make excuses. But we basically just made horrible fun of him for a year or so. I kinda actually forgot it even happened.
15. News travels fast.
They weren’t on television, but I knew two guys who got caught in a similar type of situation about 8 years ago. There was a police sting type situation going on for a few weeks in our area where they had a cop posing as a 15 year old girl in online chat rooms who would convince guys to come over where cops would be waiting to arrest them.
One guy was about 30 years old, married, one of the biggest jerks I’ve ever met, and was terrible to his wife. My friends and I were friends with his wife, but it was one of those situations where if we found out her husband would be around, people would find excuses not to be there.
The other guy was in his early 20’s, one of the nicest guys you ever met — the kind of guy who never gets the girl because he’s too sweet, and had been single for a couple of years. Everyone loved him, all the girls in our circle of friends would always talk about how sweet he was, but didn’t date him if they were single because he was perpetually friend-zoned. He was actually caught with the most damning evidence, I thought, because he was doing stuff over a webcam for the cop and that was reported over the news.
When the news came out (it was on local television — complete with mug shots) that both of them had been arrested (separately over a few days, unbeknownst to each other — they barely acquaintances with each other) in the same sting operation it really caused a strange rift in our friends. (Story continues…)
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Everyone was happy the jerk got caught. His wife was torn apart, but most people thought it was for the best since she’d finally leave the guy. He lost his job, and had to leave town to live with his parents because everyone suddenly had all the justification in the world to hate the guy, online social media accounts vanished. He completely disappeared socially from our entire city and nobody, aside from his wife, cared the least bit. She’s happily marred to a doctor now with a young child, they’re doing great — no clue what happened to him after that.
The other guy, the nice one, had sympathy from everyone. Nobody ever thought that he was into children. Most people assumed, as did I, that he was such a sweet, caring guy who had gone so long without anyone reciprocating that once he fell for this undercover cop’s story and was willing to overlook her “age” in exchange for companionship. Most of his old friends are still friends with him today and he’s in a very long-term relationship with a good friend of mine who is fully aware of his history. It was a really tough year or two for him when he wasn’t sure how the court case would turn out — never knowing if he’d be going to jail. There were dozens of people caught in this sting so his lawyer delayed repeatedly to see where precedent was going to be, legally, for this case. Turns out one of the later cases finally found a way around a conviction and he was able to use the same defence.
16. Not the person you remember.
When I was in middle school I was friends with a kid my own age down the street. We would hang out occasionally, he had a lot of video games and we used to play together a lot. He had two younger sisters and seemed like a normal guy, a bit shy and overweight. We went to different high schools and I didn’t see him much during that time and I moved away after graduation.
A couple years back I heard he was caught in a “to catch a predator” type sting. He wasn’t on the show, but he was busted for solicitation of a minor and was part of a group of men that were busted during the sting. I remember being linked to the story and they had his picture in the paper with the others that were arrested.
It is pretty wild to think back on hanging out with him, but we were just kids. Who knows when he developed those tenancies, but it does make me wonder if his sisters were ok. I had no contact with him for well over 13 years when the arrest happened, so it didn’t really effect me much.
17. More red flags than a ski competition.
I don’t know anyone from that show, but I do know what it’s like to find out someone you trusted had those kinds of problems. I found some my backup drive after moving out, and realized it was from backing up his computer for him.
In retrospect, I actually should have had an inkling. His girlfriends tended to either look or act younger, even though they were all well into adulthood (and he had an explicit crush on meI was in my 20s but when I’m happy I act like a five year old). He talked a lot about how he’d like to live in a co-op type situation with all ages, but in particular kids running around.
When I later looked up the term pedophilia, I learned that often pedophiles (not to be confused with sexual offenders) are in a way more childlike themselves, and have actual differences in their brains which is correlated with their interest in prepubescents. This person definitely fit the description of being unusually childlike himself, for someone about 50 years old.
I was very good friends with my housemate. We worked on projects together, and cooked and ate together (the household was me and 7 men, but in particular a few of us were close). He was an artist and drew pictures for/with me. I helped another housemate with building things for him, and for the household. We spent a few years in that relatively close relationship, and we were closely involved with each others’ lives.
I was bothered enough by the implications and research that I did report my friend to the police. I have no reason to think he’s ever even been alone with a child, much less done anything inappropriate to a child; and actually I think he’s aware of his issues and strives to find what he’s looking for in adult women.
I think on “To Catch a Predator” it’s not necessarily pedophiles being caught, but opportunistic people going after a fetish or taboo. Not that I think that makes it okay or anything, just that there’s an important distinction there.