Creep Catchers wait at court for Mountie charged with luring
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:12PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 19, 2016 3:08PM PDT
Members and supporters of a Surrey-based vigilante group spent hours outside a courthouse waiting for a Mountie to appear, but were disappointed when the officer didn't show up.
Approximately two dozen people, including the head of Surrey Creep Catchers, rallied all morning at the court, with some carrying signs and wearing masks to hide their identities.
They were there for a procedural appearance in the child luring case of Const. Dario Devic, a step in the legal process the RCMP officer was not required to attend. Demonstrators were disappointed when the Devic didn't appear in person.
Devic was caught on camera in a video posted online by Creep Catchers, a group that targets alleged pedophiles online, then exposes them on social media. The group's work is controversial, and often criticized by police who warn they could be putting themselves, and criminal investigations, at risk.
Last month, the group broadcasted Devic's face online after Creep Catchers said the officer met up with someone they say he believed was an underage girl, for sex.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The next court date is Nov. 2.
Devic was arrested as a result of an investigation spurred by the video, and he was charged with luring a child under the age of 16 and breach of trust by a public officer. The latter charge was dropped Tuesday following what the Crown called a "full review" of evidence.
He has been removed from active status as a result of the ongoing investigation.
Many gathered outside the courthouse Wednesday said they were disappointed that one of the charges had been dropped, including the head of Surrey Creep Catchers Ryan Laforge.
"We all know the luring charge is the weakest one because the evidence comes from us," Laforge told reporters at the rally.
"We're already kind of thinking that would get thrown out, and counting on the breach of trust to be the one where, at least our justice system is saying, 'Let's not let him get off scot-free.'"
Others at the rally said they worried Devic would not be held accountable.
"It's a police officer, and this is a guy supposed to be protecting our streets and protecting cities," supporter Tawny Goldrick said.
He believes police should be supporting Creep Catchers, who he said are providing a "vital public service."
Alison Kegel, a mother who attended the rally with her 11-year-old son, said she was a strong supporter of the Creep Catchers group.
"They are bringing awareness to the public of how many pedophiles are out there looking for children," she said.
"It's absolutely amazing what they're doing and I can't believe people would not be supportive of what they're doing."
Kegel said Devic's case resonated with her because the man named in the allegations is a police officer. She also added that she supports the work Creep Catchers does because she doesn't think the RCMP has enough money or time to dedicate the same amount of resources to stings like those conducted by the vigilante group.
Earlier in the case, police warned against stings like the one conducted by Surrey Creep Catchers. The warning came after the wrong police officer was identified at the time of the video.
"This is a prime example of why we ask for an investigation, due process and formal charges to be considered and approved by Crown counsel before a name is disseminated, especially on social media," Asst. Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr said at a press conference.
Officials said they have a team working "day and night" to catch sexual predators, and that their objective is to conduct an investigation, make an arrest and press charges, not to "publicly shame someone."
Police have asked anyone who has reason to believe that someone is attempting to lure children to contact local law enforcement immediately.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sheila Scott and Nafeesa Karim