Attorney speaks out against Facebook group aimed to catch child predators

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – After a Facebook group accuses an Eaton County man of being a child predator and then exposes him online, his attorney is speaking out tonight in hopes to clear his client’s name.

41-year-old Kevin Devenbaugh was arrested in October for using a computer to commit a crime and for accosting children for immoral purposes.

This all started in July when a Facebook group called “517 Child Predator Exposure” posed online as a 15-year-old girl and met up with Devenbaugh.

People from the group say they’re just trying to bring awareness to child predators in the community, but Devenbaugh’s attorney says they need to stop what they’re doing before someone gets hurt.

“I think their intentions are probably good, but I don’t think it has any place in our criminal justice system,” said Devenbaugh’s attorney Dustyn Coontz.

Lansing Police arrested Devenbaugh  last month after following up on the Facebook groups actions and now he may face up to 20 years in prison for a new charge: child sexually abusive activity.

“There’s no actual victim,” said Coontz.

Coontz says if Devenbaugh actually had sexual relations with a minor, he would be charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct and face up to 15 years in prison.

“Now he’s facing 20 years, but if he had actually done something with an actual minor it would be up to 15 years,” said Coontz.

Which Coontz says isn’t fair.

“I don’t think any reasonable person should think that my client is guiltier then someone who would actually accomplish the goal of having relations with a minor,” said Coontz.

Coontz doesn’t think the Facebook group, “517 Child Predator Exposure,” should have taken the matter into its own hands in the first place.

6 News reached out to the group for comment and it said in part: “We intend to continue our movement and operate within our legal rights. We simply want to do what we can as parents and help protect our youth from online predators.”   

But Coontz doesn’t think what the group is doing is right and wants it shut down.

“We don’t want to trust in vigilantes, sure we want civilians when they see something say something, but we don’t want them going out and catching people,” said Coontz.

Devenbaugh was in court today for a hearing. His attorney says if he goes to trial, a jury could only hold him responsible for two of the three counts against him.

Stay with 6 News as this case develops.

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