This report airs May 3, Wednesday, 9 p.m.. It's the latest in Dateline's month-long series of undercover investigations: children at risk from grown men online. We're back in small town America, where the investigation leads us to one of the most disturbing cases we've ever found. A warning: some of what you're about to read is explicit.
GREENVILLE, OHIO — It’s was a busy three days here in Darke County, Ohio. A house, equipped with hidden cameras inside and out, has become the destination for men hoping to hook up with young teens they met online.
From their Internet chat, it’s clear that most of the men are here for one thing: sex. But as soon as they see me, they know there’s been a change of plans and their stories change as well.
Most folks who live here think that this area would be immune to this sort of activity, and think “It wouldn’t happen here.” But as we showed you last week, we find in rural America what we found in every other location— men lining up at our door, ready to keep their date for sex with a minor.
A 30-year-old, screenname “Meatrocket8,” starts chatting online with a girl posing as a 15-year-old virgin. The decoy referring to her virginity says “I bet you’re scared of that.”
“Meatrocket8” says, “Actually you find it quite attractive. I’m honored to be considered the candidate for your first time.” Later as the chat gets more graphic, he asks for her address.
Then he gets in his car and drives to our undercover house. Because we are out in the middle of nowhere, this man like most of the men we greet in Ohio, has to drive a very long distance—almost two hours.
A decoy pretending to be the young girl waves him in. The decoy is really a member of an online watchdog group, Perverted-Justice, which we hired to do what they normally do: go into chat rooms, and set up computer profiles, pretending to be young teens who are interested in sex.
‘Meatrocket8’ (on hidden camera): I feel like a dumb ass I couldn’t find the house.
Decoy: That’s okay it’s kind of weird to find cause it’s on the corner and stuff.
But instead of being greeted by a child, he meets me. Like most of the men who come in the door, this man agrees to talk. He may think I’m a cop. At first I don’t tell him who I am and of course he doesn’t know our hidden cameras are rolling.
Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent (walks in): How are you?
“Meatrocket8” or Jay Reffner: I’m doing good what can I do for you?
Turns out “meatrocket8” is Jay Reffner, a computer specialist at a university, is a married man with children.
Reffner: I got a family at home and I love them dearly you know.
Hansen: You have kids?
Hansen: How old are your kids?
Reffner: I have one daughter and 2 step sons from my wife’s previous marriage.
He says he’s not a pedophile. He’s here to kick back relax and have fun.
Hansen: Did you bring anything with you tonight?
Reffner: Such as?
Reffner: Yes, I did.
Hansen: So you were just gonna kick back and chat and just in case something happened you brought condoms?
Reffner: I just wanted to talk.
Hansen: How were you going to use the condoms in the conversations?
Reffner: I wasn’t going to use them at all.
Hansen: You gonna do balloon tricks with them?
Reffner: No, well...
Hansen: Come on, there’s only one reason typically why people bring condoms to a home.
Hansen: And that’s for protection for sex.
“Meatrocket8” starts to sweat so badly as I read from his online chat log that he asks to take his coat off.
Hansen: “I’m honored to be considered the candidate for your first…”
Reffner: Playful chat.
Hansen: Playful chat, it sounds like your excited about the fact that she’s a virgin and you might be the first man to have sex with her.
Reffner: Sir, I really wasn’t gonna do that.
Then I tell him I’m with “Dateline” and out come the cameras and Jay heads for the door.
But no one who comes to this house looking for sex with a minor will get very far. Perverted-Justice has been sending the sexually explicit online chat logs between its decoys and the potential predators to the Darke County Sheriff’s department. And because it’s a crime to show up after soliciting sex on line with a minor, “meatrocket8” gets arrested and taken in for questioning -- where his story continues.
Police officer: Do you normally wear condoms when you have sexual intercourse with your wife?
Police officer: Okay, why did you buy condoms today? Cause you intended to come here to my county?
Reffner: No because… well…
Police officer: And have sex with a 15 year old female?
Reffner: I just don’t, I’ve never done that before.
After the interrogation he’s photographed, fingerprinted and put behind bars awaiting a hearing before a judge.
In Ohio, in order for prosecutors to file the most serious charges, a police officer needs to be involved in the online chat or phone conversation.
Since in this case, Perverted-Justice members are the decoys, the sheriff’s department temporarily deputized the Perverted-Justice volunteers who were in our house.
Our investigation in Ohio gets pretty crowded, with men showing up at the same time, forcing law enforcement to do double duty.
In order to keep the potential sex predators from showing up at our undercover house at the same time, we set up a schedule. Decoys from Perverted-Justice make the dates about a half hour apart. But sometimes the men don’t arrive on time and run into each other.
One potential predator goes in the back door.
Kevin Westerbeck (hidden camera): hello, hello…
Decoy: Come in, I gotta finish getting changed okay?
Decoy: I got to finish getting changed okay?
Westerbeck: I’ll watch.
Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent (walking out): Hey how are you?
While he’s being interviewed, another man pulls into our driveway. So we ask the first man to go upstairs and head out the front door where the Darke County sheriff’s men are waiting for him.
In the meantime, another potential predator is walking into the house.
Roger Brummitt: Where you at?
Decoy: I just whacked the crap out of my toe, I’m gonna go get a band aid before I bleed on the rug.
At the back door, another team of detectives moves in.
Decoy: Hang out at the bar for a second okay?
Brummitt: Say what?
Decoy: I’ll be right back down if I bleed on the carpet I’m gonna get shot.
Brummitt: Man, this is a nice place.
Roger Brummitt, is a 45-year-old truck driver, screenname “roger4450.” He drove more than 90 miles to meet a girl who said she was 13. Online, he asked the girl if she’s ever given oral sex. She says yes and he says “Well, if I was there you could do me.”
Chris Hansen (walks in): Did you have a hard time finding the place?
Hansen: Why don’t you have a seat on that stool for me please, right there, go ahead sit?
Brummitt: No I’m leaving.
Hansen: Well you got to know a couple of things before you go sir.
He takes off out the back door where detectives are waiting.
Something happens in this small town that we weren’t expecting. Several men from the local area who had been chatting online about sex with decoys posing as young teens suddenly change their minds about coming to the house...and detective mike burns is convinced there’s been a leak.
Det. Mike Burns: We’re a small community. For the most part, everybody knows everybody.
Hansen: Do you think some locals might have dodged a bullet because word got out?
Det. Burns: I don’t have a doubt that that happened. We know that we were chatting with people from our area and in close surrounding area. The chats had been fine up until a certain point. It appeared that they were making arrangements to come here and meet. And suddenly nothing.
Since all the local men drop out, everyone else planning to come to our undercover house has to drive long distances.
One man drove almost 50 miles, more than an hour, to meet a young boy.
43-year-old Kenneth Brinkman, screenname “junglemania20050,” meets a boy online who said he was 14 and willing to have sex with him. “Junglemania20050” is really chatting with a Perverted-Justice decoy.
He types: “I can not believe that I am actually thinking about (blank) your (blank).”
Del from Perverted-Justice is posing as the young boy.
Del the decoy: Hey Kenneth.
Kenneth Brinkman: Yeah,
Del: I really appreciate you coming out here man
Brinkman: Okay, cool.
Hansen: How are you sir?
Hansen: Why don’t you do me a favor and have a seat on the stool right on the other side of the bar there. That’s good have a seat. Did you get yourself all comfortable?
“Junglemania” appears to get uncomfortable when I read some of what he said online.
Hansen: Have you ever asked someone to blank you off. You talk about…
Brinkman: Well I don’t deny that there was sexual…
Hansen: You talk about penis size here – you say
Brinkman: Oh God.
Hansen: "You better not be getting me in to trouble, that’s not good."
Brinkman: Look what’s happened here, even though I haven’t done anything with the guy…
Hansen (still reading from chat log): "So you have that dark hair do you have any body hair?"
Yeah, I mean those are normal chat things.
Hansen: It’s normal chat things with a 15-year-old?
The 43-year-old insists he had no intention of having sex with the boy.
Hansen: You ask him if he’s horny and they say “I wish you weren’t so far away.” What conclusion can I draw from this?
Brinkman: I totally understand.
Hansen: What do you do for a living?
Brinkman: I manage an auto department for a major oil company for 25 years.
Hansen: It’s a big job
Brinkman: Absolutely, I’m f—ing scared to death.
It’s time to tell him what he just walked into. When our cameras come out, he heads out the door and he gets arrested.
The parade of potential Internet sex predators continues. One man who walked down our driveway is a 27-year-old deli worker Jeffrey Stacey, screenname “singletxguyforfun.” He’s been chatting online about having oral and anal sex with a girl he thinks is 15. He asks the girl if she will be naked when he shows up.
Decoy (hidden camera): I’m gonna go get ready ok?
Jeffrey Stacey: Okay.
Decoy: Wait at the bar for like 5 minutes and then follow me up.
When I come out and confront him...
Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent (walks out): What’s you plan for tonight?
Stacey: Nothing really.
...Like so many others, he says he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Hansen: You ask her if she’s horny?
Stacey: What’s wrong with that?
Hansen: You ask if she does anal.
Stacey: It’s a question.
Hansen: I know but you’re asking a question to someone who identified herself as an underage girl.
Stacey: It’s just talking. The Internet and real life are two different things. What’s there in the Internet doesn’t mean that’s what I think.
Hansen: Well, that would be easier to believe Jeff if you didn’t show up here tonight, where you thought a young girl was home alone.
Stacey: I mean I knew she was alone but that doesn’t mean much to me.
Hansen: You’re an adult and she’s a child.
Hansen: There are laws protecting children.
Hansen: Do you get why, teen girls at a certain age cannot give consent, legally?
When I tell him who I am, he has nothing more to say.
Rob Kline: Hello?
Decoy: Hey you’re early, let me finish getting ready. I’ll be upstairs in the first bedroom okay?
Decoy: And what are you gonna do?
Kline: I don’t know. It took me forever to find this place.
He’s 20-year-old Robb Kline, screenname “rkline05,” an army reservist. He had a sexually graphic chat with someone he thought was 13 and a virgin. He types “So you want this old guy doing you in your house on your bed or wherever?” and “Well, if I show up and you’re already naked waiting for me on your bed, then it might be hard to be just a friend.”
Hansen: How you doing?
Kline: All right.
As I start to question him, he seems to get flustered and comes up with this...
Kline: I was actually going to stop here to let her know that I wasn’t gonna be here because I have to go meet other people.
Hansen: Wait a minute, you came here to tell her that you weren’t going to come here?
Hansen: Do you see why that doesn’t make sense?
Kline: No that I wasn’t gonna come here for awhile because I was on my way somewhere else.
But as you’ll hear when I read from his chat log, he didn’t seem flustered while talking online with the 13 year old decoy.
Hansen: "So would you like to watch a movie with me with your hand down my pants. Or just no pants we could just be naked all day.” How does this look Robb?
And when he finds out he’s going to be on national television—he reaches over, shakes my hand and keeps on talking.
Kline: I didn’t see anything wrong with making a new friend but then it didn’t turn out...
Hansen: This is talking about having a 13-year-old waiting naked for you.
Kline: But that’s not what I wanted to do—I thought long and hard about it and other things came up and that’s not what I wanted to do.
Hansen: So you had this moral awakening?
Hansen: And you decided even after all this and all the explicit chat you’re not gonna have sex with this girl.
Hansen: Do you see why that is hard for me to believe?
Kline: I can see why it’s hard to believe. I can see it myself why it’s hard to believe.
Hansen: So why should I believe you?
When he gets up to leave, he has no idea what’s waiting for him outside.
During our three day investigation, 17 men come to the house hoping to meet a young teen home alone and all 17 are arrested.
There is one potential predator however who never makes it to the house.
He’s 52-year-old Glenn Mitchell, screenname “user194547,” a home health care worker. He’s been chatting online with someone posing as a 14-year-old boy in an AOL gay chat room. Five minutes into the chat, Mitchell says “You wanna meet sometime?” The decoy says he’s home alone and they make a date. Then the man calls to get directions.
Based on his chat log, there’s no doubt why this man is driving from Indianapolis— almost two hours— to meet a teen.
User194547 (chat log): I wanna do stuff with u—if u wanna
GreatEscapeOhio (decoy): come over
User194547: I (bleeped) and (bleeped) and kiss—guys
User194547: tongue kiss at that
And he continues his sexual solicitation on the phone...
Decoy: He wants to engage in sex acts repeatedly, he wants to treat the boy like his main woman, he wants to take care of the boy.
Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent: And he thinks you’re a 14-year-old boy?
And amazingly, Mitchell tells the decoy he’s met teenagers before.
User194547 (chat log): i meet a kid from---cincy
User194547: he was ---16
...User194547: we su#@ and fu#@ and kiss
Decoy: He admitted on the phone with me that he’d already had sex with another 15-year-old boy. He said that he really enjoyed younger men in general.
But as he gets close to the house he gets lost and finds himself driving the wrong way down a highway. When Mitchell gets pulled over by a police officer he calls Del, who he thinks is a teenager.
Frag from Perverted-Justice alerts the sheriff’s men staked out across the street about what’s happening. So the sheriff’s men outside the house radio the officer making the traffic stop and tell him what’s going on, and to let Mitchell go on his way.
Frag: They said this was the softest stop in the world. And he didn't get a ticket—no nothing.
But after the encounter with police, Mitchell says he’s too scared and going home.
Detective Burns from the Darke County Sheriff's office puts out an alert. Mitchell is tracked down in Indiana and arrested and charged with attempted unlawful sexual contact with a minor—a felony.
While Mitchell is in an Indiana jail, detectives from Darke County, Ohio convince a judge, based on Mitchell’s online chat, and his attempt to drive to our undercover house, to grant them a search warrant. The sheriff’s men go to Mitchell’s home the next day.
Det. Mike Burns: We have found material in the residence that does look like he’s been involved in some type of illegal activity with minors.
Mitchell has refused to be extradited to Ohio, so for now Darke County detectives have not questioned him.
In the meantime, all the other men arrested in our investigation are facing questioning by detectives.
Remember “meatrocket8,” the family man who said he’d be honored to take the virginity of a 15-year-old? Cops were somewhat surprised at his behavior, given what they found out about his family.
Police officer: Do you normally walk around with condoms in our pocket?
Jay Reffner: Well, not everyday no.
Police officer: Your mom’s a city prosecutor and your dad’s a cop, you should probably have a little bit more common sense about things that we’re doing out here tonight, okay?
Reffner: Well yeah, couples with the fact that I’m a data communications guy, you know.
He tells the detectives he drove two and a half hours to watch TV and break the boredom—not have sex with a virgin. And he explains further why he’s not that kind of guy.
Reffner: It’s the God’s honest truth. I just don’t play around on my wife.
“Junglemania20050” came to meet a 14 year-old-boy. He said online he was thinking about giving him oral sex.
Police officer: I’ll read you some more of your chat “Junglemania: so do you have a nice cock?”
Kenneth Brinkman: Well, what we were talking about prior to that?
Police officer: It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about prior to it. You’re asking him something sexually explicit, correct?
“Junglemania” insists he wasn’t going to have sex with the boy.
Brinkman: I know what my intentions are but…
Police officer: So do I.
Police officer: Well, it’s pretty obvious Ken.
Brinkman: No, it’s not. Not to me. I know what I am.
Police officer: And what is that?
Brinkman: I’m a man with a good heart, the kid was lonely bored and that’s all it was.
Brinkman: So that’s why you asked him how big his penis was?
Another man said online he hoped a 13-year-old virgin would be waiting in her bed naked when he arrived.
Police officer: When we go seize your computer at the residence, is there going to be any pornographic material on there from juveniles or small children?
Robb Kline: As far as I know, no.
As far as he knows… but then he says if they do find something, it’s because someone else has been using his computer.
Police officer: Child porn?
Kline: Uh… there’s been one instance where I found some of that and some I don’t know if it was like bestiality or something and I had to delete that.
While just about every man interrogated denies he was looking for sex with a minor, “singletxguyforfun” seems to admit it.
Police officer: Why don’t you tell me what kind of trouble you’re in?
Jeffrey Stacey: Probably jail.
Police officer: Now what did you do wrong?
Stacey: I showed up to solicit a minor.
Police officer: For what?
Stacey: Sex, I guess.
Then, “singletxguyforfun” says he was really only going to talk with the teenager—so the detective asks him again:
Stacey: I was just coming to meet, and what happens, happens. That’s the way I look at it.
Police officer: Ok, so there was the possibility that that could have happened.
Stacey: Could have.
When the 27-year-old finds out he’s going to jail, he threatens to kill himself.
Stacey: Well, I did something horrible and I’m just going to kill myself.
Police officer: Well you don’t want to do that.
When the detective takes off the handcuffs so the man can sign his statement, he grabs the pen and makes a half-hearted attempt to stab himself.
Police officer: Was it a threat so that we would back off, so that we would feel sorry for him? I don’t know exactly.
What is clear says the detective is that this man and the others like him have backed themselves into a corner and are looking for a way out.
Frag from Perverted-Justice has just learned something astonishing about the next man heading for our house: He’s had just been convicted of attempting to solicit sex with a child.
Frag, Perverted-Justice: So right before he has to go to jail next Thursday, he wants to come over and have sex with a minor, or try.
Kevin Westerbeck’s screenname, ironically, is “changeforthebetter2006.” He’s a budget analyst for the military. He’s been chatting with someone posing as a 13 year old virgin, “cornydestiny4ever.”
changeforthebetter2006 (chat log): would you get naked?
cornydestiny4ever: culd we turn up the heat so i dont get cold?
cornydestiny4ever: lol kewl
changeforthebetter2006: have sex?
cornydestiny4ever: wuld it b fun?
He asks the girl if he can stay the night. But as the online chat progresses, he worries that this is a setup. He asks the girl if she’s a cop. “Cornydestiny4ever,” one of many Perverted-Justice members around the country working during this investigation says, “no way.”
Later in the chat under a different screenname “Kevin West,” he admits what we already know about him...
changeforthebetter2006 (chat log): I did something stupid less than a year ago
changeforthebetter2006: I went to court Friday about it
cornydestiny4ever: wat u do?
changeforthebetter2006: My attorney and I plea bargained
changeforthebetter2006: This next Thursday, I go to jail for it for it for 11 months
changeforthebetter2006: I got busted sliciting
Amazingly, he was admitting to someone he thinks is a child, that he was arrested for doing exactly the same thing he’s doing with her.
Online, he tells the girl he’s 27, but the man walking down our driveway is really 47.
Decoy (on hidden camera): Come on in, I gotta finish getting changed okay?
"changeforthebetter2006" or Kevin Westerbeck: Huh.
Del: I gotta finish getting changed okay?
Westerbeck: I’ll watch you.
But he won’t get the chance to watch our decoy finish getting dressed... instead he’ll meet me.
Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent (walks out): Hey how are you?
Hansen: Why don’t you do me a favor and have a seat right over on that stool please?
Hansen: What’s going on?
Westerbeck: Nothing much, how you doing?
Hansen: Good, how are you?
Hansen: Go ahead why don’t you have a seat?
It takes him a second to get on the stool because he’s under five feet tall.
Hansen: Who asked you to come over?
Hansen: How did you meet Destany?
Westerbeck: On the computer she said hi and stuff.
“Changeforthebetter2006” tells me he was just coming over to say hi to the 13-year-old and that he wasn’t the one talking about sex— the girl was.
Hansen: She says, “I like kissing,” you say “Would you get naked?” “I just don’t want to get cold she says,” you say “Have sex?” Now a moment ago you told me this wasn’t a sexually-oriented conversation.
Westerbeck: I was just talking.
Hansen: Just talking. You say, “I’m big,” she says “Really then how?” Then you give the dimensions of your penis. That’s not sexual?
Westerbeck: That’s just bs talk.
Hansen: Just b.s. talk.
Westerbeck: To me it was.
And he continues to insist he had no plans for sex after all. He says, he didn’t bring condoms. But we were curious about something else... while he was walking in our house, our cameras spotted a bag in his car.
Hansen: What’s in the black bag that’s out in your car?
Westerbeck: That’s my briefcase.
Hansen: And what’s in it?
Westerbeck: There’s just my date timekeeper, my Bible.
Hansen: Your Bible?
Hansen: You’re a religious fella are you?
Westerbeck: Yes, I am.
Like several other men we’ve met here in rural Ohio, Westerbeck talks about God.
Hansen: What makes you so religious?
Westerbeck: Because I have faith in God.
Hansen: And didn’t your faith in God suggest to you that you shouldn’t come over here and hang out with a 13-year-old girl after a sexually charged conversation over the Internet?
Westerbeck: That’s why I turned around the first time and then she called me. I thought well, I’ll just go over there and say hi and be done with it and go home.
But the “changeforthebetter2006” does admit he’s been caught trying to meet a teen for sex before.
Hansen: What did they say you did?
Westerbeck: They said I came out to meet some girl I guess.
Hansen: So let me get this straight, you were accused of doing the very same thing that you were out for tonight.
Westerbeck: There was no intent of this…
Hansen: You pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor for sex.
Westerbeck: It was a plea.
Hansen: You pleaded guilty.
Hansen: And you got sentenced for that plea right?
Westerbeck: That’s correct.
Hansen: 11 months?
Westerbeck is already scheduled to begin serving that time. In fact, he’s supposed to report to the jail in four days.
Westerbeck: I’m stupid, I’m weak. It’s just… I had no intention of having sex with her.
Then Westerbeck admits he’s heard about Dateline’s investigations.
Hansen: Have you ever seen Dateline NBC?
Westerbeck: Um… I know of it yeah.
Hansen: Have you seen our stories on computer predators?
Westerbeck: I’m familiar with them.
Hansen: You are? Well, this is one of them.
It gets crowded outside our undercover house. Truck driver Roger Brummitt showed up while Westerbeck was inside. So we send Westerbeck out the front door, where he is arrested and taken in for questioning.
Police officer: I understand you’re going to prison already for the same charge, is that correct?
Westerbeck: That’s correct.
Police officer: How much time do you have?
Westerbeck: Eleven months.
Police officer: Eleven months? And when do you go to prison?
The detectives ask Westerbeck why they admitted to the decoy that he was going to jail. Was he trying to get her sympathy and have one last sexual encounter before he went to jail?
Police officer: Not one for the road.
Westerbeck: I know exactly what you’re saying. I know exactly what you’re saying. And that was not my intent. I learned the first time.
Police officer: Obviously not.
Westerbeck: Well I wasn’t coming in for—
Police officer: You’re chatting with a 13-year-old female about your penis size on the Internet. And you drove about what an hour and a half to meet a 13-year-old female in the middle of the night who you knew her parents weren’t home. Was that correct?
Westerbeck: That’s correct.
After the interrogation is over, Westerbeck is taken to the jail and is processed, just like all the others.
Unbelievably, we find out later there’s even more to Westerbeck’s criminal past, and not just for soliciting sex with a minor, but for rape. His victim was a young female relative.
Sgt. David Adkins, New Lebanon, Ohio police department: She was staying with him for the weekend, that he improperly touched her in a way that would amount to rape under Ohio Law.
Sgt. David Adkins of the New Lebanon Ohio police department has been investigating Westerbeck for the last year and a half. He says the sexual abuse happened when the girl was visiting Westerbeck. Her exact age at the time is not clear, but we know she was younger than 13 years old.
Sgt. Adkins: It was late at night. There was a thunderstorm. She was scared of the storm, so she went to his room because she wanted the comfort of an adult because of the storm. And ultimately, he pretty much violated that trust and confidence that he had.
Westerbeck admitted he sexually abused the young girl to a counselor, saying he had performed oral sex on her and that she had touched his penis while they were in bed together. But it took more than two years battling in court for Sgt. Adkins to obtain those records.
Sgt. Adkins: The whole time that I’m dealing with obtaining for these records and not able to charge him, I’m thinking to myself, “What if he does this to some other child?”
And knowing Westerbeck was in fact, caught soliciting other minors, he can’t help wondering if there are other victims out there.
Sgt. Adkins: I would say chances are slim that he’s only done this two times. Obviously, there’s something he can’t control there. I mean, he knew for a fact that I was after him for a year and a half.
Since he was caught in our investigation he has spent a lot of time in court. Just four days after the sting, he went before a judge in the first case involving the solicitation charge, to determine his status as a sex offender.
The judge was informed that Westerbeck was caught in our sting.
Judge (in court): In this case, you’ve made it very clear, Mr. Westerbeck, as to whether or not you’ll commit future offenses. This court will make a finding beyond reasonable doubt that you are likely to commit future crimes based on the evidence before the court today. With that determination, the court will make a finding that you are a sexual predator.
And last week he pleaded guilty to raping the young family relative, a child under the age of 13.
Westerbeck, like all the other men caught in our investigation, will appear before a judge to answer the charge of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor here in Darke County, Ohio.
On a Monday morning in Greenville Ohio’s Criminal Court, Dateline checked in on the 17 men arrested after they left our undercover house.
They’ve been sitting in jail over the weekend waiting for a judge to set bail. They’re almost unrecognizable in their prison stripes.
Jay Reffner made plans online to take the virginity of a 15-year-old. In court, his mother, a prosecutor from another county, is representing him.
Since the first court appearance, a grand jury has indicted all 17 men and charged them with attempting unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. All pleaded not guilty. Except Alonzo Wade, who plead “no contest” and is awaiting sentencing.
For many of these men, the trip from chatting about sex online, to shuffling through the criminal justice system has been a long one.
Robert Weiss, the clinical director of a sexual addiction treatment center in Los Angeles explains the thought process through the eyes of a predator.
Robert Weiss, clinical director of a sexual addiction treatment center: I didn’t wake up one morning and say “I’m gonna do this today.” They woke up five months ago or five years ago and said, “Boy, this looks kinda good to me.” And evolved down a road of eventually landing at that door.
But Weiss says not all these potential predators are alike. Some can be treated and some cannot. The first step for the kind of men caught in our investigation, Weiss says, is to admit they are sex offenders: and that’s sometimes a tall order.
Weiss: These guys need to say and understand that they have the potential to harm a child.
Weiss has taken a particular interest in our investigations because his clinic is now treating some of the men caught in our last investigation.
Weiss: It’s interesting watching the show and seeing guy after guy say, “I’m stupid, I’m so stupid, I’m an idiot.” Well, they feel stupid. They feel like idiots. But an idiot would not be able to carry out that degree of sophisticated planning and acting out. None of them are idiots. And that’s the good news. Because in treatment, they can be challenged—their thinking can be challenged.
For now, the fate of those men caught in our Ohio investigation is in the courts’ hands. But there are other sex predators in other states who are still on the loose.
Florida is a state with one of the highest number of registered sex offenders. Next week, we’ll head south where we’ll set up another undercover house. Wednesday, May 10, 9 p.m.
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