NJ man arrested after ‘Catch a Predator’-style video goes viral
A Lacey Township man was arrested Monday after being identified as the man seen in a viral video, appearing to try and meet with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Phillip Stone, 33, of Lacey Township was arrested on Monday and charged with luring and attempted sexual assault. He is being held in the Ocean County Jail pending a first court appearance.
The 8-minute YouTube video, which appeared on a channel called Minority vs. Predator, was widely circulated Sunday and had been viewed more than 139,000 times as of Tuesday morning. The video's host, who identifies himself as "Minnow," recounts going on the social media app Skout to impersonate a 14-year-old girl, then meet up with the man police have now identified as Stone. Minnow shows screenshots that appear to show the man asking about the "girl's" sexual experience then making plans to meet.
The host eventually meets the man police identified as Stone — said to be the man he baited — at a local burger restaurant, also shown in the video. As Minnow sits down at the table, he tells the other man his is not a police officer, but is doing a "psychology experiment," before engaging him in conversation.
In their conversation, the man now identified as Stone says he's "not a sicko" and that he's "supposed to be meeting up with a girl." He acknowledges the girl would have been "underage" but says he would have only engaged in consensual activity. "Is this fun for you? I don't understand," the man says. He goes on to say his mother died recently and that he's been on a "downward spiral" ever since.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said the video was investigated by his office's High Tech Crime Unit and Special Victims Unit to determine the authenticity of the video.
Stone's Facebook page states he works at Keller Williams LBI real estate as well as McVac Environmental. Keller Williams on its Facebook page wrote that Stone "is no longer affiliated with Keller Williams Realty Preferred Properties."
"Minnow" has posted more than a dozen videos in the past three months, all dealing with accused child predators.
"I'm here to shed some light and bring awareness to the amount of online child predators exist, and how easily your child could become a victim," Minnow wrote on the YouTube channel.
Billhimer in a release restated his earlier statement regarding videos such as this: leave justice to the professionals.
"Taking the law into your own hands is dangerous. We are very fortunate that no one got hurt today and we were able to take a child predator off the street,” Prosecutor Billhimer said.
Previous reporting by Erin Vogt was used in this report