Creep Catchers claim to help protect children from sexual predators. But some say they are predators themselves, after a woman caught in one of their stings killed herself.
The sting, captured on video that was posted online, saw Creep Catchers member John Doep confront the woman at her Edmonton home.
He accused Katelynn McKnight of trying to lure a young girl for sex. Less than a month later, on Sept. 7, McKnight, who was 27, took her own life.
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Cathy Dunn doesn’t know for sure if the video prompted her daughter’s suicide – Katelynn had attempted suicide before. But the 27-year-old was obviously upset about it.
Dunn decried Creep Catchers’ methods.
“How can you deal with people and assume that they are guilty, and create such a mental turmoil when you really don’t have any proof?”
RL Dakin said one of her family members, who has a mental illness, also ended up in a sting video so she launched an anti-Creep Catchers Facebook page. Dakin said she spoke with McKnight on Aug. 17, the day a Creep Catcher top 10 compilation video was posted. Katelynn McKnight came in the number one spot.
The original video was posted in April.
“She spoke about that video, questioned the tactics and said even if the video is taken down, the damage is done. She said her death would be honourable and bring change.”
Dakin thinks Creep Catchers targets vulnerable, sometimes mentally ill, people, like McKnight to attract more traffic to their website.
Police are also raising red flags about Creep Catchers, calling them vigilantes.
“Individuals running Creep Catchers are about being judge, jury and executioner,” said Acting Staff Sgt. Stephen Camp with ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation team.
ICE investigators are the experts in child sex cases. They say Creep Catchers constantly disrupt their work and have even caused predators to move on and re-offend in other provinces.
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“The harm this group is causing to the public and law enforcement and injustice is just wrong,” Camp said.
Creep Catchers said McKnight was not targeted by the group, and claim to have chat logs between McKnight and a member posing as an underage girl. They would not release them to Global News and said they removed them from the Creep Catchers website out of respect for her family.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: The article posted on Sept. 28 stated the original video was posted in August. It was corrected on Sept. 29 to say the original video was posted in April and the compilation video was posted in August.