Police urge against vigilantism in wake of Newark prep school guidance counselor case
New details have emerged on the investigation that led to the arrest of a now-former guidance counselor at St. Benedict's Prep.
Police say the case started with an online message between former counselor Didier Jean-Baptiste and someone he believed to be a 14-year-old boy. According to police, sexually explicit messages were exchanged on the app Grindr between Jean-Baptist and the person posing as the teen.
Police say the messages from a person known online as Hunter XK - Predator Catcher New Jersey led to a meet up in Harrison earlier this week. The meet was caught on camera showing a person who appears to be Jean-Baptiste. The video was then posted on Hunter XK's Facebook and YouTube page.
Police are cautioning people against vigilantism. Law enforcement officials say actions like this could jeopardize existing investigations or ultimately their safety.
"Innocent victims could ultimately become the ones prosecuted because they go about things in a matter they are not allowed to by law," says Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna. "I can tell you in my opinion there's just a general frustration by honest people relative to a lot of criminal activities that are occurring not only in the cyber world but in areas of stolen cars and as certainly as law enforcement we are always concerned people are going to take matters into their own hands."
Thomas Shea, the program director of Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Program at Seton Hall, says people can sign onto any dark web child predator site right and you can immediately talk to someone. Shea says it is extremely prevalent in society
Jean-Baptiste has been charged with attempted luring and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on a summons and is due back in court Oct. 24.