Video: Non-government group catches 100 sex predators

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updated 4/6/2006 8:42:40 PM ET 2006-04-07T00:42:40

An official at the Department of Homeland Security was caught in a child sex sting.  Brian J. Doyle, the fourth ranking spokesman in DHS, was put on unpaid leave after being charged with soliciting sex from a child.  Authorities say he initiated sexual conversations online with an undercover cop he believed was a 14-year-old girl.  Doyle was arrested Tuesday while he was online.

But the story of how he got caught raises questions.  Tucker got answers from Xavier Von Erck, the director of operations of an organization called Perverted Justice that seeks to bring creeps like that to justice. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, "THE SITUATION":  I think a lot of our viewers may be confused as to where Mr. Doyle was, or was reputed or alleged to be, online when he was talking to this girl.  If you're an older child molester looking for a child, where do you go?

VON ERCK:  You would go to chat rooms such as on Yahoo!Chat or you would go to a social networking site such as MySpace.com or LiveJournal.com and try to find profiles of what you think are underage children. 

CARLSON:  And then you e-mail those children and say, let's meet?

VAN ERCK:  It depends on the tactic of the individual.  There's a myriad of different ways that predators try to get real children to meet them.  Sometimes they say, straight out, “Let's meet, let's have sex.  Let's do it.”  Others are a little bit more cautious and will try to befriend the kid, do some research on what they think is a child and use that to befriend and then turn it to sex later. 

CARLSON:  You just named two pretty well known sites, Yahoo! and MySpace.com.  These are big operations, part of big corporations.  They must be aware, as you are, that this is going on, on their sites.  What are they doing to stop it?

VAN ERCK:  Yahoo! recently has closed down all their teen rooms and is trying to keep teens out of their chat services.  But still, they don't have any moderators, and they can still do more. 

MySpace is actually trying to play catch-up now with a staff that tries to eliminate predators from their services. 

But there's also other sites out there that are just as dangerous, such as LiveJournal, which does not have any policies restricting pedophiles from their web site.  And in fact, they've said so publicly.

CARLSON:  They have said out loud, pedophiles are welcome to use this site.  Not prohibited from it. 

VAN ERCK:  Nothing in their terms of service restricts them. 

CARLSON:  Wow.  That's a little bit over the top. 

So how do the police or you, who work on this, as well, stumble upon, and apprehend child molesters trying to pick up kids?

VAN ERCK:  It's really akin to fishing.  You know, you go to a boat, on a lake, and you put your hook out.  And then, you know, fish will come by and come for it.  It's pretty much the same way online. 

You go online into a chat room, or on a social networking site, and you put your social profile up.  You just wait.  And you will get bites.  You will get older men who will contact you trying to see if you're willing to be with them. 

CARLSON:  Every time?  If you put up a profile of a 14-year-old girl and didn't say, “I'm open to having a relationship with an older man,” just a straight-forward 14-year-old girl web page, whatever that looks like, do you think you would actually get creeps coming on to you?

VAN ERCK:  Oh, yes, you'd get dozens of creeps coming on to you.  Just recently in January in California, we had 51 individuals show up over three days to be arrested after soliciting our profiles and chat rooms.  All we have to do is go into a chat room and sit.  We will get predators soliciting us, usually instantly.  And you'll usually get more than one. 

CARLSON:  I'm just a little stunned as to why more people aren't doing something about this?  I mean, these web sites are owned by people.  It seems to me they're maybe not complicit, but they have some role in this. 

If I'm a bartender and I serve a guy who's obviously drunk, and he goes and crashes into his car into a school and kills people, I'm partly liable for that.  That's not the case online?

VAN ERCK:  It's not the case online.  There's different court precedent that hold chat servers and people who own web sites not accountable for the actions of users on their web sites, as long as they have a terms of service agreement.  So there's really no lawsuit liability yet for these businesses that have these chat rooms open or web sites open to predators. 

CARLSON:  You said that on one site that 51 people were driven to a house where they were arrested.  About mow many get arrested every year for trying to pick up kids online?

VAN ERCK:  It's in the hundreds.  So far this year, my organization, PervertedJustice.com, has had about 100 people arrested from January 1 to today for soliciting children online.  And that's just us.  That doesn't include local law enforcement and, as you've seen in Florida, with you know, the Department of Homeland Security press secretary. 

CARLSON:  Does it seem to be making any dent in the weirdo community?

VANERCK:  No, there's not enough teeth in the laws against them to put them in the jail for a long time.  For example, three of the 51 individuals who showed up and were arrested were back in the rooms within a month, soliciting us again, because they were awaiting trial, their bail was too low.  And they were out.  And they got right back on the computer and tried to find a real kid. 

Additionally, two weekends ago in Ohio, a 47-year-old man showed up to have sex with what he thought was one of our decoys.  Turns out he was sentenced two days before to 11 months in jail.  They gave him a week to take care of his personal affairs, and he decided to find a kid rather than take care of his personal affairs. 

CARLSON:  I'm pretty libertarian about almost everything, especially regulation of anything, but you know, they're wrecking the Internet for people who have children.  And it's just disgusting.  I hope someone does something about it. 

Thank you for doing something about it.

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