Facebook group aiming to catch child predators accused of cyber bullying

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A local Facebook group that works to expose child predators could face legal trouble itself.

Its an effort started by parents in the Lansing area, working to catch child predators before they actually commit a crime, but a local attorney says the group is taking it too far.

The creator of the group 517 Child Predator Exposures says they just want to get those who could hurt their kids off the streets and leave punishment up to law enforcement, but an attorney representing someone the group exposed thinks what theyre doing is wrong and is calling them out for cyber bullying.

It starts off as just messaging online, when someone from the group 517 Child Predator Exposures poses as a teenager while messaging an adult.

“Our intent is just to expose them to their community so others will know to watch them if they’re around their children,” said the creator of the group, who wants to remain anonymous.


Then a group member sets up a meeting with the person who thinks they’re going to see the teenager. They do this all while streaming it live online.
           
“What I think they’re doing is providing a forum for cyber bullies,” said Dustyn Coontz, an attorney representing someone who the group exposed.


Before former governor Rick Snyder left office, he signed a bill making cyber bullying a crime in Michigan.


Coontz says it’s creating a platform for people to do just that, and says the group might soon be in legal trouble because of it.

“People have some unpleasant things to say about other people who they think are child predators, understandable, and sometimes they cross some lines,” said Coontz.


The creator of the group says they’re just trying to keep kids safe.

“We’re not out here trying to ruin their lives. We just want them to be held accountable for the things that they’re doing that are immoral,” said the group creator.


For those who think what the group is doing is dangerous, the creator says it’s a risk worth taking.

“If there’s only one child saved, then our mission is complete,” said the group creator.

Former governor Snyders cyber bullying law takes into effect on March 27th.

Group members also plan on appearing in court, since at least one of the people they’ve exposed was charged by police.

Stay with 6 News as this story develops.

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