Prosecutor: Resident's undercover video helps nap suspected child predator

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Authorities say an Ocean County man faces luring charges after he was captured in an online child predator sting conducted by a private citizen.

Phillip Stone was also charged Monday with attempted sexual assault. The charges came a day after a video was posted on YouTube that showed an exchange on the social media app SKOUT in which the 33-year-old Lacey man tried to arrange a sexual encounter with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

The “teenager” was actually Rashawn Bass, an adult male who told News 12 New Jersey that he decided to conduct the sting after watching the television show “To Catch a Predator.” Bass arranged to meet Stone at a Lacey Township hamburger restaurant – an encounter Bass recorded.

Bass says that he understood what he did was incredibly dangerous.

“That’s an understatement and borderline stupid…but had a real 14-year-old showed up, we wouldn’t be having this conversation and [Stone] wouldn’t be where he is right now,” Bass says.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office says that while they appreciate the public watching out for crimes, they do not recommend that private citizens take the law into their own hands.

“We appreciate the help, but the people we have doing these investigations are highly-trained professionals. They work in that field all the time,” says Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

The prosecutor says that now is a good time for parents to go over online safety with their children. They say that if they see that a child has the SKOUT app on their devices, it should be deleted.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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