Herkimer BOCES Math Teacher and 2 Others Featured in Predator Trap Videos
A YouTube group known as WEB claiming to be luring-in sexual predators to eventually turn them into police have been in Herkimer for the last 2 weeks and they claim to have drawn-in 3 men seeking relationships with underage teens.
The operation, which doesn't seem to be coordinating with police, has chosen the Herkimer Walmart as one of their most recent meeting places. The channel uses fake social media accounts to attract men who are allegedly interested in meeting underage teens. The operation catalogues all communication between the alleged interested male and the vigilante posing as the 15-year-old. They set a meeting place, turn on the live-stream video cameras and wait for the "suspect" to arrive. Once they confront the alleged pedophile, the vigilante uses a code word which triggers a call to be made to local police. The live stream usually ends up in the parking lot where the subject continues to be interviewed in friendly fashion until police arrive. Evidence compiled by the YouTube group is then turned over to police.
On Monday, a video surfaced of a "Math Teacher" who said he drove an hour to meet up at the Herkimer Walmart, turned out to be a long-term substitute math teach at Herkimer BOCES. The YouTube channel lit up with comments of parents and students claiming that the man in the video was indeed, a local math teacher.
Herkimer County BOCES confirmed the story on Tuesday and said that the teacher had left work for the day and ultimately resigned later in the afternoon.
Herkimer County BOCES issued the following statement: "This morning, Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES administrators became aware of rumors and a video regarding one of our substitute teachers. We took immediate steps to assure the safety and welfare of our students. At that time, we found the substitute teacher had left work for the day. The substitute teacher later tendered a resignation and is no longer employed by Herkimer BOCES. We are not at liberty to discuss any further details because this is a personnel matter. Please know that we take this situation very seriously, and the Herkimer Police Department has started an investigation."
During the WEB operation, the teacher in the video used a fake name. WIBX has learned the name of the teacher but has decided not to use it in this story until it's determined if Herkimer Police will be filing charges.
Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory said in a statement, they are aware of the incident which was live-streamed. "We are currently working with several other agencies as we conduct a thorough investigation into the incident," said Jory. "There will be no additional information provided at this time as the investigation is ongoing," he said.
During the course of researching the YouTube channel, WIBX discovered 2 additional videos which were the result of "perpetrator stings" by the vigilantes at the Herkimer Walmart posted over the last week. In each case, the subjects communicated over social media accounts to set up a meeting at the local Walmart. Both times, the alleged perpetrators, one a set-proclaimed "banker and food truck operator" and the other a self-described "rock star," were met by the undercover vigilante, interviewed and ended with the arrival of Herkimer Police. In at least one case, the target was placed in handcuffs by police.
WIBX reached out to Herkimer Police about the risks of "vigilante type sting operations" like the ones depicted in this story, and the types of dangers that can exist for everyone involved, and comments will be forthcoming.
This is a developing story and it will be updated as more information becomes available.
It should be noted that anyone included in the videos embedded from YouTube and in this story are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The videos embedded in this story are publicly posted on YouTube.