Method[ edit ] Show host Chris Hansen clarified in an interview with NPR News that the subjects confronted on the show should be labelled properly as potential sexual predators and not as pedophiles, which is a specially-defined clinical subclass of human psychosexuality.
Hansen stated, "Pedophiles have a very specific definition, people who are interested in prepubescent sex. Perverted-Justice volunteers build profiles identified as underage individuals on social networking websites, and enter chat rooms as decoys. They set up adults to message or email the decoy and begin a dialogue. If the conversation turns sexual in nature the content in question initiated by the adult , the decoy will not discourage this, nor outright encourage it.
This also can help the Perverted-Justice team in collecting incriminating evidence against the alleged offender. Such evidence could include engaging in sexual conversations, sending the decoy pornography or child pornography, and committing other acts.
The decoy eventually leads the visitors to believe they are home alone and invites the visitors to come to their house or to an agreed-upon location, where the visitor is seeking sexual activity from the decoy. When the visitors arrive at the house, the decoy finds a reason to leave the room within seconds of meeting the visitor, at which point the visitors are confronted by Hansen who instructs them to "have a seat" and states that he "needs" to talk to them.
Hansen questions each one at length about their intentions. Some leave immediately upon seeing Hansen, because they recognize that he is clearly not a teenager, or they have seen him in previous Dateline investigations. Hansen, without initially identifying himself, interviews the suspects about their intentions, and also reads aloud some of the graphic portions of the chat to inform them that the logs were indeed recorded.
Those who have not seen Hansen's Dateline investigations before often assume he is either the child's father or a member of a law enforcement agency. After a few minutes of questioning, Hansen identifies himself as a Dateline NBC correspondent and informs the visitor that the entire interview has been recorded on hidden camera as part of the Dateline NBC story. Then, Dateline crew members with large cameras and microphones reveal themselves, and the person is offered a chance to make a final statement before being asked to leave.
The first two investigations did not include law enforcement officers on site, and individuals caught in the sting were allowed to leave voluntarily, though Dateline would provide all video and transcripts to law enforcement and suspects would eventually be arrested.
Arrests are sometimes made in a dramatic fashion by multiple officers who, with Taser drawn, ambush the suspect and command him to lie face-down on the ground before being handcuffed. In the Fort Myers investigation, a police officer in camouflage sometimes arrested the perpetrators as they left the sting house.
Tasers are sometimes shown being used to subdue fleeing  or merely unresponsive  individuals. Some investigations also show booking procedures and bail hearings.
During interviews, suspects often claim not to have any idea how old the supposed minor is, even when confronted by Hansen with chat logs showing the decoy clearly identifying him or herself as underage. In some jurisdictions, online solicitation with the belief that the other person is below the age of consent is a crime, regardless of whether the other person actually is.
The operation was set up in a home in Bethpage, New York to which 18 men came over two-and-a-half days after making an appointment for sex with a minor. Among the men caught were rabbi David Kaye and elementary-school teacher Steven Bennof, both of whom lost their jobs after taping. The operation was located at a house on Riverboat Drive in Riverside, California and was the first done in cooperation with local law enforcement officials.
During this sting, 50 men were arrested over three days and charged with felonies —so many that three arrived almost simultaneously, and law enforcement, at one point, ran out of personnel.
One other person arrested was charged with a misdemeanor. The men arrested included a criminal investigator working for the Department of Homeland Security who was later fired and, for the first time, two men who claimed to have seen previous Dateline investigations of online perpetrators trying to have sex with minors.
Greenville, Ohio[ edit ] The fourth investigation aired in two one-hour-long parts during April and May as the first half of a month-long series of To Catch a Predator specials. The operation was based in Greenville, Ohio. The location of the undercover house meant that potential predators from the larger surrounding cities of Indianapolis , Columbus , and Cincinnati had to drive upwards of an hour and a half to reach the operation.
Among the men caught were one who had been slated to start a prison sentence for a different charge of solicitation in four days and a 6th grade school teacher who had also been chatting with an Indiana police officer posing as a teenage girl. Due to Ohio state requirements for evidence in sting operations, three Perverted-Justice members were temporarily deputized for the length of the operation.
It was also the first Dateline investigation in which Perverted-Justice was paid a consulting fee. Fort Myers, Florida[ edit ] As with the Ohio investigation, the fifth investigation was aired in two one-hour-long parts in May , forming the second half of the month-long series of To Catch a Predator specials. The operation was done in a house at Caloosa Drive in Fort Myers, Florida and saw 24 men arrested in three days.
Among the more notable moments in the investigation was the arrest of a man who had brought along his five-year-old son to the house, creating a challenge for arresting officers as well as Hansen who did not want to traumatize the boy. Hansen told him immediately that he was on Dateline without attempting to interview him, and police had the difficult task of arresting the father and removing the child without exposing him to the arrest.
Another man had asked a decoy posing as a year-old if she was willing to have oral sex with a cat and perform sex acts involving Cool Whip. She replied that she would do so on the condition that he would strip naked after entering the house. He did so and was immediately confronted by Hansen. He was the second featured predator to strip naked in the house to date. Like the first one, Hansen gave him a towel to cover himself with.
Hansen also had to go look for a bottle of water for the man when he asked for one in which case Hansen made one of his typical humorous comments: Another man arrived at almost 4am, but refused to enter the house, trying to talk the girl into getting in his car with him. After pleading with her for over 30 minutes, he gave up and walked to his car where he was arrested. Another man confessed that he was "guilty of whatever's there" referring to the transcript and, when asked what should happen to him by Hansen, said that he should receive the death penalty.
Another duped his sister into driving him to the sting house and waiting for him in the car while he intended to have sex with a year-old girl. This is the individual who pulled his shirt over his head and said, "I don't want to be on the news, dawg" to which Hansen replies, "It's a little late for that, dawg.
Twenty of the 24 men were convicted of using the Internet to solicit a child for sex and some were also convicted of sending harmful material to a child, as some of them emailed pornographic pictures to the decoys. Because these are sex crimes, the 20 convicted men have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Most of them were also put on sex offender probation. Notable arrests included a military staff sergeant who on his knees pleaded with Hansen not to "destroy" his life, a devout Christian man whose MySpace page claimed "Jesus Rocks" and that God was his hero, and one man who had said that he had seen the show "about three times on TV already".
Several months later, that man was rearrested when he exposed himself to a young girl at a public pool. Petaluma, California[ edit ] From August 25 to August 27, , Perverted-Justice and Dateline worked with law enforcement in Petaluma, California to arrest 29 men in three days. One suspect was later released due to lack of evidence. The confrontations took place in the backyard, which was the first time taping took place outdoors; all of the previous interviews took place in a kitchen or living room.
Several political cartoons  published in the wake of the scandal explicitly referenced To Catch a Predator by name. Given the proximity of the sting house to Silicon Valley, the investigation saw several computer engineers arrested, one of whom declared to the police that he was a well-respected man in society with a Ph.
Among the more notable arrests was that of a medical doctor who was the vice-president of a major cancer research corporation and later had his medical license revoked. Another claimed to be an active-duty Marine Corps sniper who, in his chat, said: Police intervened immediately before any confrontation with Hansen and found a shotgun in the individual's truck. In January , Lt. Matthew Stapleton of the Petaluma Police Department credited the sting operation with scaring potential predators away from Petaluma.
Referring to later decoy operations by local police, Stapleton said, "As soon as they found out that we were from the Petaluma area, they completely cut off communication with us. The Long Beach investigation featured a man who had previously been encountered in the Riverside operation nearly a year earlier, a post-production video editor for Nickelodeon , a software engineer who worked for the United States Department of Defense , and a man soliciting a decoy posing as an year-old Dateline's youngest fictitious age for a decoy to date.
This installment also featured a man who met his decoy at nearby Wardlow Park after refusing to meet her at the house. This man had brought the decoy an MP3 player to give her after they had sex and got pulled over for speeding on the way to the meeting. Some predators were ushered out through the back door when it appeared that another predator was on his way to the house, in order to avoid tipping off the next visitor.
During some of the encounters in Long Beach, there appeared to be security breaches involving the decoy playing the part of the young teen: Typically, the decoy is instructed not to have any physical contact with predators, and Hansen usually walks right in when they make a sudden move or request any physical contact such as a hug or a kiss. During this investigation, the presence of the Dateline sting operation in town was leaked online through a Craigslist internet posting.
Nonetheless, this segment aired on January 30 and February 6, There were 25 men who arrived at the location on Mandeville Drive over four days, with law enforcement investigating additional suspects. The predators included a former church music director and a former police officer in his 60s.
Most notably, these additional suspects, who conducted chats but did not arrive at the undercover house, included Kaufman County assistant district attorney Louis W. Others countered that these predators were already in the area or close by and that this sting revealed them to be sex offenders. This investigation aired on February 13 and February 20, This marks the first segment in which local law enforcement has declined an invitation to prosecute suspects involved in the show.
On September 5, , Dateline aired the results of the forensic report on Conradt's computer. According to the report, Conradt's "CDs, laptop computers and cell phone all contained pornographic material—some included child pornography.
Aware that potential predators might be reluctant to show up at a house primarily due to repeated Dateline investigations, the crew set up a second location at the beach directly across the street from the house.
This second location was also rigged with cameras and microphones and had police hiding in a bunker below the deck. Some of the men arrested included a retired truck driver who claimed that he lied during his chat log about wanting to have sex with the underage girl because he is no longer able to achieve an erection, a Taekwondo instructor who masturbated on webcam for the decoy with whom he chatted, and a sheriff's deputy from Alabama who was arrested in a vehicle containing an "arsenal" of weapons.
In one case, two potential predators arrived within five minutes of each other, resulting in Hansen conducting the first dual interview of predators who had each made separate appointments for sex.
This investigation aired on February 27 and March 6, As in the Flagler Beach investigation, a second meeting location was also set up at a nearby beach for those who were reluctant to show up at the sting house. The female decoy assuming the role of the young teen was played by the year-old daughter of the homeowner who rented out the beachfront house to Dateline.
It should be noted that this property is strictly used as a summer rental, and neither the decoy nor her father actually live in the home.
For the first time in the TCAP series, "Casey" gave an on-camera interview on what it is like to play a decoy. Those arrested included a school bus driver, a court administrator, a senior web developer, a bodybuilder, United States Air Force mechanic Ernest C. Timmons who died from liver failure while awaiting trial , a former firefighter, and a registered sex offender from Pennsylvania who once molested a young girl he had met online.
As in previous episodes, most of the men denied an intent to have sex with the teen, yet brought gifts, condoms, and lubricants with them. This installment of To Catch a Predator featured a man who became so ill while being interviewed by Chris Hansen that he passed out and crashed head-first into the bottom section of a counter. After being treated for his injuries, which were not serious, he was arrested. Another man seemed pleasantly surprised at meeting Hansen, shaking his hand before leaving, knowing that he would be arrested immediately afterward.
In addition, a man caught in the sting mentioned on-air that he was a religious watcher of To Catch A Predator. He had heard Chris Hansen on the Opie and Anthony radio talk show.
He went on to mention he was "really funny.