ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VIR. (WSLS 10) – A Rockbridge County teen produced his own episode of “To Catch a Predator” in his yard. His friends online are now praising him, but the prosecutor says what he did was dangerous and criminal.
“We lured a pedophile to my house. He’s about to come in and we’re about to beat the (expletive) out of him.” said the teen in a video posted to Facebook on Sunday.
The teen posted a second video that showed him beating up a man in his yard.
“Once Mr. Bobbitt got out of the car and walked across the yard he was jumped and battered there,” said Capt. Tony McFaddin with the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office identifies the assault victim as Elijah Bobbitt, a convicted sex offender. McFaddin told WSLS 10 that Bobbitt had been talking with two teenage boys online, possibly posing as a girl, and those talks turned sexual. Bobbitt was not supposed to be talking to anyone online.
“One of the conditions of the agreement, which was incorporated in the court’s order, was that he have absolutely no use of the internet for social purposes,” said Rockbridge County/Lexington Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Billias.
Billias put Bobbitt in jail last year for carnal knowledge of another boy.
“Bobbitt had been supplying this young man who he met through Facebook with alcohol and attempted to have oral sex with the boy,” said Billias.
After getting out of the hospital, Bobbitt came into the sheriff’s office to talk to investigators. He’s in jail for violating his probation. Bobbitt has more than 13 years in prison hanging over his head on just that violation alone.
Meanwhile on social media, some are hailing the teen as a vigilante hero. The prosecutor says he’s not.
“Had they just come to law enforcement when this information was available and told us this was going on, they would be absolutely in the clear and come out of this on the side of right,” said Billias. “In this case, they’ve made themselves also criminal defendants by engaging in criminal behavior. Regardless of the situation.”
Billias plans to charge that teen and anyone else they find out was involved. He’ll also ask the judge to send Bobbitt to prison for the entire length of his previously suspended sentence. Bobbitt will also face new charges related to online solicitation.
McFaddin said investigators know who took the fight video.
We spoke with the father of the teen in the videos. He said his son believes what he did was right and that he was too embarrassed to go to police once he realized he was talking to a man and not a girl.