This article originally appeared on VICE Canada
A 23-year-old Canadian man who was filmed by the ringleader of an expanding network of vigilante paedophile hunters has spoken out and said he was framed. The guy has filed a police report and said that if he had the money, he'd sue.
"I am not a paedophile," the man told CBC – Canada's version of the BBC – on Saturday April 9th. "I don't want to be framed as a paedophile, when all I did was try to meet someone who stated they were 18." He withheld his name.
The practice of posing as a child on popular dating sites and confronting men who attempt to meet supposed under-agers has been gaining traction in cities across Canada – despite obvious and vocal disapproval from local police forces. Calgary mason worker Dawson Raymond first started posting videos of these To Catch a Predator-style clashes on social media in September 2015.
The man Raymond filmed, who has no charges against him, was one of the first people shamed on Raymond's "creep catchers" website. The site has since racked up dozens more videos, and Raymond has recruited similar teams in over a dozen cities from Victoria, in British Columbia, to St. John, New Brunswick.
What happened leading up to the video is disputed, but what's captured on film goes like this: Raymond approaches the man's van in a strip mall parking lot, and tells him to roll down the window.
"You here to meet a 13-year-old girl?" Raymond asks.
"No," the man replies.
"It doesn't matter what you say," Raymond goes on. "I have all your texts, I have your license plate, authorities know who you are already."
"It doesn't matter, I haven't even said anything," the man shoots back while rolling up his window. "I haven't met her or anything." The man says he went to police the next day and turned over his online messages, phone and email account passwords.
According to CBC reports, the man confirmed he arranged a meeting, but with a woman he thought was 18 years old. It was only after two days of messaging that "Amanda" (AKA Raymond) changed her story, saying she was 13, 14 or 15 at different times.
"I thought 'OK, this is a complete joke. She's just messing around, wanting to get a reaction out of me," he told CBC. "I said, 'OK that doesn't matter. Your profile says you're 18. I'm taking you on fact that you are 18.'"
Raymond says the man's story is "a bunch of nonsense."
"I brought it up a couple times," he told VICE. "I said, 'Are you sure it's okay I'm 13?'"
The man filmed by Raymond also told CBC he's considered suing, and has consulted four different lawyers. He said he hasn't been able to find work since the video was published. But so far the up-front fees, quoted as high as €13,590, have prevented him from launching a defamation case.
But Raymond says he doubts the man will sue. "I am not worried whatsoever about that," he said. "First off, I have no money, so have fun getting money out of me. Second, if these guys sue, all that's going to do is bring more attention onto them, and that's what I want."
"So go ahead," he added, "sue the shit out of me."
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