Friday, November 25, 2005

Gays help internet group in stoppping online predators

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From the Washigton Blade: Gays help expose online predators Internet group asks gays to be more vocal in stopping teen abuse By LOU CHIBBARO, JR. Friday, November 25, 2005 Gays involved with a group that conducts controversial online sting operations against adult men who solicit sex from underage teenagers of both sexes are calling on the gay community to take a more visible stand against the sexual exploitation of children and teens. Perverted Justice, the group some have criticized as vigilante, participated in a Nov. 4 nationwide broadcast of the weekly program “Dateline NBC,” which used hidden cameras to show men arriving at a house in Fairfax County, Va., for that they believed were meetings with underage teens of both sexes for sexual encounters. Instead, much to their shock and horror, they were greeted by “Dateline NBC” reporter Chris Hansen, who informed them that the “teens” between the ages of 12 and 15 with whom they thought they were about to have a sexual tryst were actually adults members of a group called Perverted Justice. Members of this nationwide Internet group say they train for and carefully carry out online sting operations to expose men seeking out underage teens for sexual encounters. The group’s leaders said they avoid illegal entrapment by waiting for the adult men to initiate a sexual assignation. Perverted Justice refers successful stings to local law enforcement authorities, who often prosecute the men involved. In a development not mentioned in the “Dateline NBC” program, two gay men and a lesbian are among the group’s 32 volunteer members and teen “impersonators.” “I have been with Perverted Justice two and a half years, and I can say that I’m treated with respect and welcomed with open arms,” said gay Michigan resident Greg Brainer. Xavier Von Erck, one of the group’s leaders, said Perverted Justice has no connection to religious right groups and considers itself non-sectarian. Von Erck, who is not gay, said the organization supports equal rights for all people, including gays, and welcomes all who supports its mission. “We don’t consider men who solicit underage males to be part of the gay community,” Von Erck said. “If you go for a 13-year-old or a 12-year-old, it’s all the same,” he said. Brainer called such predatory behavior “outrageous” and “just plain wrong,” and said he is hopeful that more gay men and lesbians will begin to speak out more openly against such behavior. He said Perverted Justice members don’t link adults who solicit sex with underage teens with the gay community, and the gay community should “get over” its fears about being tarnished by the issue of pedophilia. To read the ful article click here