Vigilante Facebook group helps Greeley police nab sex offender

GREELEY, Colo. -- A vigilante Facebook group is nabbing child sex predators in states such as Colorado.

Jesse Weeks is the founder of the group Hunted and Confronted. The 28-year-old is a truck driver from Idaho and formed the group in July after hearing about a similar group while watching television.

"It was an idea I had watched and I had heard of and I thought it was excellent. I wanted to do it," he said.

The group and its "decoys" started communicating with people on online dating sites, posing as underage teens.

That's how they met Travis Benson, a 30-year-old man living in Greeley. Benson agreed to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old girl at a Greeley convenience store.

The group says Benson made it clear he planned to have sex with the girl.

However, no girl showed up. Instead, Benson was met by Weeks and the Greeley Police Department.

"I personally feel like he would have given us his Social Security number if we asked," Weeks said. "I don't think he understood the gravity of the situation of trying to have sexual relations with a minor."

Jefferson County's Child Sex Offender Investigations Unit is an agency that apprehends child sex predators in Colorado.

Deputies in that unit advise against doing what Hunted and Confronted does, arguing it could put innocent citizens at risk of committing a crime.

If a sex offender were to send a group member child porn, Weeks and others could be charged committing a crime.

However, that's something Weeks says he's not worried about.

"The second that would happen I would go right to the police station and turn myself in. I would hope they would understand I tried to do my best by coming to them the second it came into my phone," Weeks said.

In just more than a month, Hunted and Confronted has helped identify more than 20 child sex predators nationwide.

Benson is charged with promotion of obscenity to a minor and attempted sexual assault on a minor.

He'd already been convicted twice of failing to register as a sexual offender and served eight years in a Wyoming prison for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl when he was 18.

AlertMe