Who catches the Creep Catchers?

Thanks to some self-appointed internet vigilantes, a mentally disabled young man in British Columbia will never again be able to bother the beer league hockey players for whom he kept score:

Jaxson Jacoe is 21 going on 13.

The Burnaby man doesn’t just look young. His father says he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that’s left him developmentally delayed and mentally challenged, with a pre-teen’s understanding of the world.

His family is now speaking up, saying Jacoe was humiliated and lost a job he loved after being caught up in a sting orchestrated by online groups aiming to catch sexual predators.

In late February, Jacoe decided he wanted his first girlfriend. A buddy recommended he use a dating app.

Almost immediately, Jacoe was approached online by a woman going by the name Ashley. Her posted age was 19.

“She messaged me first, saying I was cute and I want to ask you out on date,” recalls Jacoe. “And I responded back saying ‘Thank you.'”

But Ashley had a surprise. A short time later she revealed she was actually 14.

Jacoe said that was OK.

[…]

On Feb. 20, Jacoe was ambushed outside his workplace. The confrontation was caught on camera by two men who had posed as Ashley online.

“They were harassing me, they were bullying me”, he says, his voice shaking.

“They just approached me and started videotaping me and I had no idea what was going on.”

In the video, one man identifies himself as a member of the White Rock Creep Catchers.

The other says he’s Cody Hunter of the Langley Creep Busters.

They immediately challenge Jacoe.

“I’m Ashley,” says the White Rock Creep Catcher.

“You want to explain to the world, who by the way is going to see this, why you would consider a 14-year-old girl and bring her to your work of all places?” asks Hunter. “You don’t see anything wrong with that, do you?”

It’s apparent Jacoe is confused.

“Well, I didn’t know it was a guy,” he offers.

“Oh no, but that’s not the fact, it’s not that it was a guy, it was a 14-year-old child, you wanted to make her your girlfriend, right?” asks Hunter.

Hunter persists.

“Can you take me to your manager right now? Because we’re going to them whether you take us or not.”

The Creep Catcher chimes in, saying: “You work in a place full of little girls and children. It’s children, man. You’re preying on them.”

Jacoe tries to explain he doesn’t deal with children. “I’m score-keeping men’s beer league hockey,” he says.

The vigilantes are undeterred. “It doesn’t matter. There’s children here…you’re going after little girls.”

As responsible citizens, the “Creep Catchers” then took this information to the police posted the video on Facebook, with high-fives all around.  (“Did he pee his pants?” asked one fan.)  Jacoe was fired, and the vigilantes are unrepentant:

CBC News wanted to talk to the men who confronted Jacoe, identified as Douglas Perry of White Rock Creep Catchers and Cody Hunter of Langley Creep Busters on their Facebook pages.

They declined an on-camera interview.

Hunter, however, provided this explanation over Facebook messaging: “We did not see anything mentally wrong with Jax(s)on on the catch or in the chats … he knew what he was doing was wrong.”

As I noted in October, I am the parent of a child on the autism spectrum.  He’ll be a teenager before too long, and he may may want to test the stormy waters of online chatting and dating.

The overwhelming majority of people who encounter my son are understanding, but I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be those who will try to take advantage of him.  And in the age of online vigilantism, many people are actively looking for lives to destroy.  It makes them feel important and superior.

Ironically, Jacoe’s father says he was “pro-vigilante” until this happened:

“In the past, I’ve actually been…pro-vigilante,” says the 46-year-old concrete delivery driver. “I actually liked the idea of people standing up for others. Now I can see how much harm it does. It’s really that simple.”

He says his family has been devastated by the actions of the vigilantes.

“If they take out one real predator while damaging five other people’s entire lives…it’s not worth it. It’s just not.”

I want to get this on the record before, God forbid, it happens to my family.

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