Former school principal faces child luring charge after Creep Catchers sting

By The Canadian Press
November 26, 2016 - 6:30am

MISSION, B.C. — A charge has been laid against a man who was a school principal after a confrontation with a vigilante group at a shopping mall in Abbotsford, B.C.

Const. Ian MacDonald of Abbotsford police said Jason Obert, 37, was charged with child luring on Friday.

Obert was released on court-ordered conditions including that he not communicate with anyone under the age of 18 or go anywhere frequented by children unless accompanied by an adult, MacDonald said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Police said their investigation began on Oct. 24, after receiving video and other materials from a citizen group that calls itself Fraser Valley Creep Catchers.

MacDonald said a representative of the group met with police several days after officers became aware of a video posted online depicting a confrontation between the organization's members and a man at the food court of an Abbotsford shopping mall.

Supt. Angus Wilson of the school district in Mission said Obert was suspended as the principal of Windebank Elementary School on Oct. 23, the day after officials became aware of a video posted online by the Fraser Valley Creep Catchers.

"Schools and school districts have to be absolutely safe places for children. That comes before any of the other learning and so on that happens in schools," Wilson said.

Wilson said the district followed emergency response protocol, providing counsellors and conducting an in-house investigation.

Police have expressed concerns in the past over citizen groups such as Creep Catchers, warning members of the public not to confront alleged child predators because doing so could put people in danger and compromise official investigations.

"We still believe that policing should be left to police officers," MacDonald said.

"One thing that I understand about Creep Catchers is that as a general practice they don't look to turn evidence over to police."

An RCMP officer in B.C. was arrested and charged in September after a Surrey chapter of Creep Catchers livestreamed a sting involving a man they allege was planning to meet an underage girl.

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