'DATELINE NBC' HIDDEN CAMERA INVESTIGATION EXPOSES ONLINE SEXUAL PREDATORS � FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
NEW YORK -� September 23, 2004 -� In a revealing hour-long report, "Dateline NBC" correspondent Chris Hansen investigates an epidemic spreading throughout America - sexual predators trolling Internet chat rooms in pursuit of children. The broadcast airs on Friday, Sept. 24 (8:00 PM, ET).
In just two and a half days, "Dateline NBC's" hidden camera investigation, with the help of online watchdog group, Perverted Justice, confronts more than a dozen men who arrive at a house expecting to meet a young teen for a potential sexual encounter they have arranged on-line, giving viewers a glimpse at how widespread the problem is. Potential predators who turn up at Dateline's undercover house in a middle class neighborhood include, "Eddie," a television producer who claims he was at Dateline's house doing research and "Dark Hero," a man who told Hansen he was schizophrenic. Dateline later learned he had a criminal history.
One of the most alarming cases involves a New York City firefighter who now faces federal charges of using the Internet to attempt to solicit a minor for sex and attempting to transmit obscene material to someone under 16. He admits to correspondent Chris Hansen that he engaged in an online chat with someone posing as a 14 year-old-girl but denies he intended to send her lewd images of himself via a web cam. He pleaded not guilty in federal court.
When the firefighter did not show up at Dateline's undercover house, Hansen decided to approach him about his behavior outside the firehouse. Below are excerpts from the startling confrontation:
Re: His intentions on following up with his planned date.
Hansen: The reality is this, you had a conversation with somebody who said they were fourteen years old, it was a very explicit conversation, sexual conversation. You got in your car and you drove by the house where she said she was home alone with no parents.
Hansen: You said that you have every intent of showing up at this house except that you saw a marked police car parked next door.
Firefighter: ...before I saw the marked police car I made the decision not to stop. I really did.
Re: His lewd performance on the web cam in front of someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl:
Hansen: And then afterwards you turned on the web cam and transmitted this picture...exposing yourself...
Firefighter: ...That was not transmit...For the record I was talking to another person at the time, I did not intend for her to see that...Somebody else was viewing that at the time.
Re: His conduct:
Hansen: Is this appropriate behavior for a New York City firefighter? ...For any adult to have this kind of a conversation...with somebody says they are a fourteen-year-old girl home alone?
Firefighter: ...I made a mistake at the time. I made the judgment call to correct that mistake.
Hansen: Is there anything else you want to say about this...?
Firefighter: Yeah, I think...people ought to use their heads, people should know better, um, I made a mistake.
The report also includes reactions from parents and children about its findings and gives parents advice about how to protect their children from this pervasive danger. David Corvo is the executive producer of "Dateline NBC."