From a Dispatch story by Erin Musgrave:
A local man has hired an attorney and plans to sue a watchdog Internet organization after the group accused him of soliciting sex with an underage girl over the Web, and sent flyers to his neighborhood claiming he was a pedophile.
Perverted-Justice.com, a volunteer organization that surfs the Web attempting to expose possible pedophiles, posted a conversation from a Yahoo chat room of a person they said is a Hollister resident communicating sexually explicit comments and sending lewd photos of himself to a volunteer posing as a 13-year-old girl.
The chat occurred in May and later was posted on the group’s Web site.
The man obtained Oakland-based attorney Dennis Roberts more than a week ago. He said his client is innocent and plans to sue the organization.
“It’s a damn outrage - the most outrageous thing I’ve heard in a long time,” Roberts said. “This is not the police - it’s a group of ‘well-meaning’ people who march to their own drum and think it’s a good thing to destroy people’s lives. It’s vigilante justice, and I hope they have a lot of money.”
...Steven Allemand, who lives in the area, said he was advised of the matter when a man delivering flyers informed him.
While he refused to comment on their conversation, he said the way the information was distributed was not right.
“I told him that without verifying the facts I think sending it out is wrong, because I don’t know if it’s true or not,” Allemand said. “He’s been here for a few years and I haven’t had any problems with him.”
A neighbor with three young children, who asked to remain anonymous, said she monitors her children much more closely since she heard the allegations.
‘‘It did make me a little nervous - for the protection of my children,’’ she said. ‘‘If they play outside I feel like I need to be out there.’’
Perverted-Justice.com chooses not to inform law enforcement about their “busts” because they don’t want to inundate already overstrained departments, said Perverted-Justice.com site administrator Harvey.
Harvey refused to give her real name because of safety issues, she said.
The site has 24 main contributors who pose as young children, concoct profiles, post pictures and then sit in Internet chat rooms, waiting for someone to strike up a conversation, she said.....