- A 20-year-old male college student in the San Francisco Bay Area used Snapchat’s gender-swap filter to catch an alleged would-be child predator on Tinder, according to a report from NBC Bay Area.
- Posing as a 16-year-old girl named Esther, the student says he exchanged sexual messages with a 40-year-old man on Tinder, KiK, and Snapchat.
- After reporting the messages with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers, investigators reportedly discovered the suspect was a San Mateo police officer named Robert Davies.
- Davies was arrested on June 6 and charged with contacting a minor to commit a felony, according to police.
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A San Mateo, California, police officer has been arrested after allegedly exchanging sexual messages with a male college student posing as a 16-year-old girl on social media.
Ethan, a San Francisco Bay Area college student, says he used Snapchat’s gender-swap filter to create a fake Tinder profile for a girl named Esther. While countless people have used the filter to see if their gender-swapped pictures are popular on social media, Ethan told NBC’s Bay Area affiliate that he was inspired to try to catch a potential child predator after a friend told him she was molested as a young girl. He declined to share his last name due to fear of retaliation.
Eventually, “Esther” was messaged by a 40-year-old man on Tinder who asked if Ethan/Esther “wanted to have some fun tonight,” according to the report. Because Tinder doesn’t allow underage profiles, the Esther account was listed as 19 years old, but Ethan says he repeatedly told the man Esther was 16 when their conversation shifted to Snapchat and KiK, another messaging app. After texting back and forth with the man for about 12 hours, Ethan reported the messages to the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers hotline, according to NBC Bay Area.
After launching their own investigation, police detectives determined that the suspect was Robert Davies, a San Mateo police officer. Authorities executed search warrants on Davies’ electronic devices and mobile apps, leading to a felony warrant for his arrest. Davies was arrested on June 6 and charged with contacting a minor to commit a felony, according to police.
According to a statement from the San Mateo police, Davies was placed on paid administrative leave when the department became aware of the investigation.
“This alleged conduct, if true, is in no way a reflection of all that we stand for as a Department, and is an affront to the tenets of our department and our profession as a whole,” San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said in a statement shared on Facebook. “As San Mateo police officers, we have sworn an oath to serve and protect our communities. I can assure you that we remain steadfast to this commitment to serving our community with ‘Professionalism, Integrity, and Excellence.’”
You can watch an interview with Ethan below, or head over to NBC Bay Area for more details.