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Judge: Perverted Justice Founder 'Solicited Child Molestation'

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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The pudgy, pasty, and exceedingly creepy founder of Perverted Justice, the online vigilante group that NBC News pays to lure in gap-toothed perverts for Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator," narrowly escaped a taste of his own medicine last week. On August 10, a judge in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, issued a previously unreported order finding that "there is probable cause to believe that Xavier Von Erck solicited ... child molestation, statutory rape, or attempted child molestation or attempted statutory rape."

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Sadly, it's not quite as deliciously ironic as it sounds: There's no evidence (yet) that Von Erck is a secret pedophile. The case stems from a rather novel legal theory pursued by Robert E. White, whose son Robert Gerald White was arrested for attempted child molestation and attempted statutory rape after a Dateline sting in Harris County, Georgia, last year. The elder White thinks that Von Erck, by posing as a 15-year-old girl during online chats with his son, actually solicited the younger White into showing up at the Dateline house for sex. And in Georgia, solicitation is a crime.

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Robert E. White's attorney, Gary Gerrard, went to a Georgia state judge last month seeking a warrant for Von Erck's arrest for criminal solicitation, and the judge, by and large, agreed: He issued an order stating that "there is probable cause to believe that Xavier Von Erck communicated with Robert Gerald White with intent that Robert Gerald White would engage in conduct constituting a felony." In other words, Von Erck wanted the younger White to break the law and tried to get him to do so, behavior that is usually considered criminal in Georgia. But the judge declined to issue the warrant, finding that there was no way the younger White could have actually committed the crime that Von Erck was soliciting him to commit—there was, after all, no 15-year-old girl to molest.

But it might not be that simple. Gerrard and other sources familiar with Georgia criminal law say the judge plainly got it wrong.



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