'The Dr Phil Show' uncovers new form of vigilantism by 'pedophile hunters' who 'honeytrap' child molesters and publicly shame them
Authorities are unhappy with this phenomenon. In a statement to the daytime show, police said these vigilantes are making it more difficult for law enforcement by making these offenders more paranoid. Criminologists view this phenomenon as “a new expression of the town-square execution,”
Wednesday’s episode of ‘The Dr. Phil Show’ featured a unique phenomenon. Vigilante “pedophile-hunters” are a thing. Dr. Phil described it as a “controversial form of vigilantism that law enforcement is just not in favor of.”
What these hunters, who are regular citizens, do is they bait potential child molesters to arrive at a certain location. They then catch them on camera and post their details online. One of these so-called pedophile-hunters is a man called Tony.
A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Tony founded the “Team Loyalty Makes You Family” group on Facebook. A plumber by day, Tony live-streams his encounters with people who he believes are child molesters.
Speaking on the show, he said, “Law enforcement is a joke when it comes to this.” He added, “There’s a problem with the system.” Tony further said that he loves his nightly escapades. “I love doing what I do. It’s almost like being a superhero,” he said.
But he isn’t the only one. There’s also 30-year-old Josh. Another victim of child sexual abuse, Josh says he is willing to risk his own life to save someone else. “I’ve been threatened before, and I’ll be threatened again, I’m sure, but the predators’ threats and my wife’s concerns are not going to stop me,” the father of three said. “I would rather die than see another kid molested.”
Josh is supposedly the founder of the now-defunct “Predator Hunters USA” Facebook group. We see one of Josh’s stings on the show, where he catches a man who he had “honey-trapped”. The man had allegedly been under the impression that he was talking to a 13-year-old and he had come to have sex with her.
Authorities are not happy with this vigilantism. In a letter issued to the show, Captain Greg McLean from the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit of the Post Falls, Idaho, police said of another such “pedophile hunter” Jesse, the founder of the online group “Hunted & Confronted” that, “Jesse does not have the skills or ability to successfully build a case against alleged predators.”
He added, “We have a multi-jurisdictional department of trained professionals who specialize in this very complex area of the law. Jesse is making it more difficult for law enforcement by making these offenders more paranoid.”
According to a 2019 report in Quartz, criminologists view this phenomenon as “a new expression of the town-square execution,” noting that it is a product of a host of influences such as reality TV and tabloid culture, amplified of course by the internet. The report also added that this global phenomenon has led to a number of suicides in several countries, adding that the hunters’ efforts can be counterproductive, endangering ongoing investigations.
'Dr. Phil' airs weekdays on various stations at 3 p.m. ET.