Wednesday, June 7 2006
DATELINE: TO CATCH A PREDATOR --(8:00PM-9:00PM) --(TV-14)
Two years ago "Dateline" began its breakthrough reporting on online sexual predators, revealing a national epidemic. Over the course of three reports, the dramatic hidden camera investigations have exposed almost ninety men. Now, Chris Hansen is back with another series of reports on men who target young teenagers online. After chatting online about sex and then making a date, dozens of men show up at "Dateline's" undercover houses. Like the previous investigation, police arrest potential predators caught on camera. In addition, Hansen will participate in a live blog during the first installment, offering anecdotes, behind-the-scenes information and answers to viewer questions, available at ww.Dateline.MSNBC.com.
Hansen and NBC News set up their hidden camera investigations at homes in Greenville, Ohio and Ft. Myers, Fla. Members of a group called Perverted Justice, an Internet watchdog group and consultants to "Dateline NBC," pretended to be 12-15 year old children chatting online. Within hours, adults solicited the undercover operatives for sex. Some sent graphic sexual images to what they believed were minors. Soon, many of those same men actually show up at the house for a rendezvous with the child. For these investigations, Perverted Justice teamed up with local law enforcement. After a potential predator was confronted by Hansen and left the house, detectives who had been in contact with Perverted Justice arrested the men.
Most of the men confronted by Hansen claim their intentions were innocent. Some of the most alarming cases involve prominent members of the community: an elementary school teacher, a fireman and church youth group counselor. Demonstrating how widespread the problem is, the hidden camera investigation in Ohio exposed 18 men in three days, and the hidden camera investigation in Florida exposed 24 men in three days. In both locations some men drove for hours to get to the house.
MSNBC.com will post blogs, full reports and video from "Dateline's" "To Catch a Predator" series and other reports aired on Internet safety at www.Dateline.MSNBC.com. Also available online will be a number of resources for parents including tips to keep kids and teenagers of different ages safe online, links to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including their "cyber tip line," and a link to the national sex offender registry. As a starting point to keep kids safe online, MSNBC.com offers an Internet safety contract. With pledges for both parents and kids, this contract encourages families to discuss Internet safety, and agree to abide by these rules when using the Internet.
David Corvo is the executive producer of "Dateline NBC."