Group aiming to expose child predators could face legal issues

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - It's an idea that pretty much everyone can get behind: exposing men who intend to have sexual relations with underage girls. 

However, as local defense attorney Mike Nichols explains, a man meeting up with who he was told was a 15-year-old girl doesn't necessarily prove he intended to do anything wrong. 

"You know if it were my client I would say, well, my client knew exactly who you were and what you were doing," Nichols said. 

Nichols says that's just one issue with what the Facebook group "517 Child Predator Exposures" is doing. 

He added that the group of mid-Michigan parents is also opening themselves up to a civil case if the person they're confronting isn't who they were talking to online, or if the person didn't do anything wrong. 

"One is defamation, especially if the person is not guilty, two is invasion of privacy, three is what we call false light where you're portraying somebody in a false light that they otherwise were not conducting themselves, or things that they were saying," Nichols said. 

Now, that's not to say that every person the group confronts is going to be innocent. Some may have bad intentions, or may have already done something against the law. 

But Nichols says catching those people is a job better left to the professionals. 

"We do have people who are experts at investigating crimes and developing cases, and they're called police officers," Nichols said. "They have badges, they have certifications, they have training. I would leave it to them." 

6 News also reached out to the "517 Child Predator Exposures" page for comment on this story. 

A member of the group responded, saying they are meeting with several law enforcement agencies in the weeks ahead to discuss their legal boundaries. 

That person added that the group members have no desire to engage in any physical confrontation with the men who contact them, their only goal is to expose that person's intentions to protect the communities they live in. 

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