Kyle Swanson says he was inspired by Chris Hansen, of To Catch a Predator fame, to set up his own vigilante group to expose suspected pedophiles, typically by luring them to sites in St. Louis, then showing the confrontations on his YouTube channel and other social media. But, like Hansen, the 30-year-old Illinois man now has his own legal troubles, after one such "sting" went south, reports KMOV. Per charging documents, Swanson enticed a man into his car in Madison County on Jan. 12, then tried to keep him from leaving, threatening to hit him. Prosecutors say the incident prompted the man to delete possibly crucial evidence from his phone. Swanson has been indicted on unlawful restraint, obstruction of justice, and assault charges. "Having a citizenry that is observant of suspicious behavior" is vital, says Madison County State's Attorney Tom Haine, but they should leave the rest to professionals.
Haine adds in a statement to the Washington Post that Swanson's methods "can place themselves and others in danger and damage potential cases." That damage is because, despite the hundreds of arrests Swanson claims to have spurred, many of those cases have crumbled due to the tactics Swanson uses, making it hard for prosecutors to close the deal in court. "You have to run a case properly to get prosecution," Granite City police officer Mike Parkinson told the Telegraph last August. "It's merely entertainment for them. They're not doing it properly." Swanson's KTS Predator Hunters, which he formed in 2019, has also been sued by at least one of his "suspects" for defamation, while a local school slammed Swanson for having a "potentially dangerous adult" meet him in an elementary school parking lot. On Monday, Swanson's campaign—he intends to run for Madison County sheriff—called the charges against him "ridiculous." His bond has been set at $40,000. (Read more pedophile stories.)