A Long Beach preschool employee has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to contact an underage boy for sex after he was targeted by an online group that works to expose alleged child predators.

Robert Alden Stanley, who was previously listed as an office manager at California Heights United Methodist Children’s Center, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of a felony count of contacting a minor with the intent to commit an offense, Long Beach Police Department spokesman Brandon Fahey said Monday.

Stanley, 57, is featured on the Instagram page for a San Diego-based group called People v. Preds, which operates stings on people similar to the controversial former NBC series “To Catch a Predator.”

In a video, Stanley is seen talking to an adult decoy who accuses him of agreeing to meet with what he thought was a 14-year-old boy for sex. The group will typically pose as underage teenagers on dating apps and then lure people to locations where they record and sometimes livestream the encounter as they call police.

Fahey said Long Beach police were called to the 3500 block of Lewis Avenue at 10:38 p.m. Saturday regarding a sex crime report. Fahey said police determined that a citizen posing as a minor had initiated a text conversation with Stanley on a dating app and “both parties mutually agreed to meet at the location.”

In the video, the decoy confronts Stanley and questions him about his reasoning for allegedly wanting to meet an underage boy.

“Why? Can you not find anyone your own age?” the decoy asks.

“Yeah, I can find someone my own age,” Stanley replies, adding later that he was “curious.”

“What were you curious about with the 14-year-old,” the decoy asks.

“I was curious about what sex with a young teen is like,” he replies.

Stanley later says he did not believe he was “talking to a real kid online” and was “playing along with a joke.”


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Another video shows Long Beach police taking him into custody. Stanley was booked early Sunday at the Long Beach Jail, where his bail was set at $5,000.

A representative of California Heights United Methodist Children’s Center, which runs an after-school program as well as a preschool, could not be reached for comment.

People v. Preds is one of a growing number of gonzo groups across the country that target alleged pedophiles and post the encounters to YouTube and Instagram as thousands of viewers cheer them on.

But their actions have sparked concerns from law enforcement over safety, possibly compromised investigations and vigilante justice. One of the larger groups, called “Dads Against Predators,” raised such concerns for law enforcement in Ohio in 2020 that a police chief warned the group to stop.

The Long Beach Police Department declined to comment specifically on Stanley’s case but said it does not condone citizens taking matters into their own hands.

“Even with good intentions, vigilante acts often cause more harm than good, leading to unintended consequences such as increased acts of violence, compromising investigations, and misidentifying suspects,” the department said in a statement. “We encourage our community to work collaboratively with our highly trained officers to legally and judiciously solve crime, apprehend criminals, and help achieve justice for all victims.”

People v. Preds was founded in July 2021 and has already amassed more than 51,000 followers on YouTube, and 26,000 on Instagram. The group sells merchandise including mugs and hoodies.

A spokesperson for People v. Preds declined to identify themselves in an Instagram message with the Post, but said the group’s goal is to “save children from online predators.”

“My concern is the safety of our children in our community,” the person wrote.

People v. Preds has conducted stings on more than 160 people, including a San Diego County Sheriff’s sergeant, who is now under investigation, and a Sony Playstation executive, who was fired from his job.

The group also conducted a sting on another Long Beach man this month—identified as 50-year-old Prince Guy, who is listed as an extended member on the board for Long Beach Pride, the nonprofit that organizes the city’s annual Pride festival.

Guy was arrested on April 3 and has pleaded not guilty to one felony count of meeting with a minor for lewd purposes, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

In a video posted to the group’s YouTube page, a male decoy follows Guy into his apartment, where he immediately confronts him and begins livestreaming the encounter on an iPhone.

In the more than one-hour video, Guy pleads for the man not to call the police and says he didn’t intend to do anything, as the decoy grills him.

“You were talking to what you thought was my 14-year-old brother,” the decoy says. “I have all the evidence right here in my pocket.”

At one point, the decoy even convinces Guy to call his own cousin and allegedly confess. The cousin can be heard on speakerphone sounding confused.

“Prince, you should know better,” the man says.

“I made a mistake,” Guy says.

“It’s not a mistake, it’s a choice,” the decoy says.

At the end of the video, Long Beach police arrive and take Guy into custody after the decoy shows them evidence of their conversations on his cell phone.

Guy is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail according to jail records. Long Beach Pride didn’t immediately respond to a message.

Legal experts say charges that result from amateur sting operations raise a number of legal concerns.

John Barnett, a top Orange County criminal defense lawyer, said he’s seen an “exponential” rise in the number of people reaching out to him who say they’ve been targeted by online sting operations, and in some cases, even threatened with blackmail.

“It’s very disturbing because there are no protocols and there is no oversight so there is no way to adequately police the situation,” he said. “In police stings, the conduct is supposed to be monitored. Here, there is no motoring. They run these alleged stings by themselves and they could have tragic consequences.”

Among the concerns, Barnett said a suspect could be intellectually disabled and unable to understand their actions. The amateur operations also could impact legitimate law enforcement operations to search for online predators, he said.

“It dilutes and compromises the entire investigative process,” he said.

He said the groups could also be exposed to civil lawsuits.

That was the case for the original “To Catch a Predator” series, which was canceled in 2008 when a Texas district attorney committed suicide as police were heading to his home to serve a search warrant. The man had been accused of exchanging pictures with a “Perverted-Justice” decoy posing as a 13-year-old boy.

His sister later filed a $100 million lawsuit against NBC in a case that was eventually settled.

As for People v. Preds, the spokesperson said the group plans to continue with its operations.

“No stop in sight,” the person wrote.

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