By: Richard L. Smith
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office has issued a warning to vigilante watchdog groups who engage in video recording and cornering potential individuals attempting to engage in sexual assault of minors.
Prosecutor Musella said over the last few months, Bergen County has experienced several instances of a private citizen using the Internet to identify individuals attempting to lure minors into sexual activity and arranging for the arrest by law enforcement of these targeted individuals.
According to Prosecutor Musella, the scenarios and arrests are then publicized on YouTube.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and Bergen County law enforcement do not condone this vigilante activity said.
"Bergen County law enforcement strongly discourages this activity, which holds the potential for violence and injury to the individuals involved as well as innocent bystanders. -Prosecutor Mark Musella
"It also jeopardizes the due process rights of potential targets, puts private citizens in danger, and risks involving law enforcement in illegal activity," according to Prosecutor Musella.
Private citizens are advised not to involve themselves in these activities.
Prosecutor Musella said Bergen County law enforcement will file appropriate charges against individuals who violate the criminal law when pursuing these activities.
Private citizens who lure potential defendants will be called to testify -as witnesses- throughout court proceedings, as this practice ensures they are witnesses to an alleged crime.
According to Prosecutor Musella, individuals who engage in this vigilante activity may also be subject to civil liability.