A man confronted in a Carberry parking lot by a self-described "predator hunter," who accused him of setting up a meeting to have sex with an underage girl, says he’s seeking legal advice.
He denies the allegation levelled at him in a video posted on Facebook by his unknown accuser and calls it "media shaming."
"It’s just not right … They shouldn’t be doing that type of thing because it’s media shaming," the Brandon man told The Brandon Sun in an interview on Thursday.
The newspaper isn’t naming the man, nor providing a link to the video filmed during the confrontation in Carberry, because it could fuel the risk of vigilantism.
The video — which appears to have been posted on April 28, and as of Thursday had 29,000 views — is posted on the Canadian Predator Hunters Facebook page.
The profile pic for the group features the slogan: "Face it buddy! You’re screwed!"
The video, approximately 11 minutes long, was recorded by the "hunter" using a cellphone. In the video, he tells the subject that he’s broadcasting the confrontation via Facebook Live.
The video begins with the hunter’s shadow cast on the gravel of what appears to be a parking lot as he walks up to a parked pickup truck.
"First catch in Manitoba everybody … 41-year-old coming to meet a 15-year-old," the hunter states.
He approaches a man sat in the driver’s seat of the pickup who appears to be looking at his own cellphone.
The hunter accuses the driver of coming to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex, which the driver denies.
"Yeah you did, you were talking to me the whole time … I have your picture, and I have your messages," the hunter responds. "You came to have sex with a 15-year-old girl and you’re 41."
Other than that, the hunter doesn’t really present any evidence he has to back up his accusation.
The pickup driver later told The Brandon Sun that he had agreed to meet a person he was exchanging messages with on the PlentyOfFish dating website.
During the video, the hunter tells the pickup driver that he’s there to get pedophiles help and protect children.
"We’re called the Canadian Predator Hunters, I don’t know if you’ve heard of us, that’s who we are. We’re a non-violent group. We’re here to help people. We don’t want to get cops involved. We’re here to help."
The man in the driver’s seat is wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. But the hunter uses the man’s name, and his identity is easily confirmed with his profile pic on Facebook.
Twice, the hunter records the licence plate number of the truck, at one point reading out the letters and numbers and noting the truck is a Ford.
The Brandon Sun sent a message requesting an interview to Canadian Predator Hunters via Facebook, but didn’t receive a response by press time.
However, in the video, the hunter sates that the group is new in Manitoba and mainly based in Saskatchewan.
He tells the man in the truck to contact the mobile crisis unit, presumably the mental health service operated by Westman Crisis Services, to get help.
The hunter then demands the subject provide proof that he has completed that task, but doesn’t specify what type of proof and points out himself that the mobile crisis unit won’t provide him with the subject’s private information.
The hunter can’t provide the crisis unit’s phone number when asked. He also doesn’t specify what will happen if he doesn’t get proof, except that he knows the name of the man in the truck and will contact him if he doesn’t get it.
At times, the hunter seems to be responding to comments from viewers that included requests that he beat up the man in the truck.
"I’m not going to punch him guys. We’re non-violent, we’re not here for that," he responds.
He pitches a question on behalf of the Facebook Live audience — people want to know what was going through the head of the man in the truck.
"I don’t know," the man in the pickup responds.
At times, the man in the truck is quiet. At one point, he agrees with the hunter that what they are doing is a good thing.
At another point he seems to agree with the hunter’s accusation.
"I can see you’re upset, man," the hunter says.
"No, I am, I am upset at myself because it was a stupid thing to do," the man in the pickup says.
The video ends with the hunter walking away and the subject of the video driving away.
Some of the comments posted on Facebook suggest the man in the truck is a pedophile and call for his castration and violence.
"I live about 100 ft away, wish we knew about this when it was happening cause this man deserves to be tied by his ankles and dragged straight to the cop shop," one comment read.
At least one person questions the approach.
"I don’t think this group has any business doing what they are doing without police directing. This is encouraging vigilante justice and I’m sure they think they are doing good, but their efforts are misguided."
The man in the truck also says that the video doesn’t give the full story.
He says he was exchanging messages on PlentyOfFish with a person he believed to be female, and then communicated with the person using a phone app.
He says he asked the person’s age, and was provided three different answers at different points —26 or 28, 15, and then 37.
When the person told him he was 15, he didn’t believe it and that’s when the age of 37 was provided.
In the end, he expected to meet a 37-year-old woman to "hang out" and perhaps things would lead to sex.
The man says it was the other person who suggested a meeting and set the place and time.
He told the person online he would be in a pickup truck, but didn’t give a make or description. His was the only vehicle at the meeting point at the time.
He says he doesn’t know how the hunter got his name. His real age is 33, and doesn’t know where the hunter got 41 years from.
He denies outright that he thought he was meeting a 15-year-old, and says he’s not a pedophile.
He says his comments, in which he seems to acknowledge the hunter’s accusation, were made because he was caught off guard.
While he is worried about his reputation, and a little for his safety, he says the video hasn’t affected him otherwise.
He’s deleted his PlentyOfFish and other social media accounts, but he’s not taking precautions against violence.
"I know what I didn’t do, and my friends and family are all behind me," he said, adding nobody has asked him about the footage and he hasn’t received threats.
Finding child predators should be left to the police, he said.
As the incident happened in Carberry, it’s RCMP who would investigate.
A message requesting information wasn’t returned by the force, so it can’t be confirmed whether they’re looking into any aspect of the case.
The Brandon Police Service, which is aware of the video, frowns on such confrontations.
A media liaison officer said there’s potential for violence on either party’s part in such cases, and police are trained to deal with such situations. It doesn’t support vigilantism.
"Don’t bypass police in order to take action into your own hands," BPS Sgt. David Andrew said. "Potential investigations could be jeopardized as a result."