It was busier than usual at Swift Current Provincial Court Monday.
More than 20 Creep Catchers were present to support the president of Swift Current’s chapter, David Swanson, who is charged with causing a disturbance.
Creep Catchers pose as young girls online and engage in conversation with alleged “creeps” asking to meet up. They then film the encounter to shame the person on social media.
In a Facebook video posted June 7, Swanson met up with Aaron Francis, the alleged creep.
In the video, he and Francis exchange swear words and Francis pushes Swanson down to the ground.
Francis was charged with assault and causing a disturbance. He was sentenced June 27 to nine months probation and a 10-year firearms ban.
Swanson pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of causing a disturbance, and the trial is set for October 5.
“This isn’t right,” said Greg Slammington, with the Calgary Chapter.
“We’re providing a public service and our president (Swanson) got attacked by a man we believe to be a threat to society.”
Slammington was asked if the Francis’ behaviour was predictable when the catchers try to trap people.
“These guys are baiting little girls on the internet,” he said. “It’s disgusting, it’s not right, and we shouldn’t be charged with anything ever.”
While police have spoken out against people taking matters into their own hands, Slammington said he’s received a measure of praise from officers for the Creep Catchers’ efforts.
“Off the record, the police love us,” he said. “They’re fist bumping us, giving us the thumbs up, and they love what we are doing.”
Slammington said police just can’t condone the behaviour publicly.
“They’d be sending us into a potential danger zone and they can’t do that,” he said. “We aren’t vigilantes and the police will agree with us off the record with that statement.”
Wife of accused speaks out
Kimber Francis is now in the process of divorcing her husband, Aaron, after seeing the video alleging the man was attempting to engage with young girls he met online.
“I was one of the last people to find out,” she said. “I was sick in bed with tonsillitis when he called me from getting out of jail after the assault; he wouldn’t go into many details.”
Francis said she couldn’t even watch the whole video at first.
“I was sick to my stomach,” she said. “His stuff was immediately on the front lawn”
Now, the mother said she won’t let their three young kids visit the accused without family members around.
“No matter my feelings on him, it’s still their dad,” Kimber said. “They love him and still look up to him, but they’re too young to understand what’s going on.”
The couple has been together for 12 years. Francis said she just couldn’t continue after the allegations.
“If this is happening, any woman shouldn’t stand behind their husband,” Kimber said.
While she feels strongly about finding out the truth, Francis is cautious about the Creep Catchers’ methods.
“I’m thankful in my case to find out,” Kimber said. “However, there is a huge chance that if these Creep Catchers continue, more violence is going to happen because people are desperate when they’re caught in a bind.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.