Man nabbed in ‘video vigilante' sting gets probation for ‘shameful' behavior

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A man nabbed in a video vigilante sting targeting sex predators apologized for his “shameful’’ behavior before being sentenced Tuesday, Nov. 8, to probation for attempted accosting of children for immoral purposes.

“What I did was shameful; it’s never going to happen again,’’ a contrite Jacob Ian Cassiday told Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston.

Cassiday, 25, in September pleaded guilty to a reduced accosting charge stemming from an encounter with what he thought was an underage girl.

He used the Internet to arrange a Feb. 14 meeting at Leonard Street and Alpine Avenue NW, court records show. It wasn’t a girl, but 23-year-old Zach Sweers who showed up, video camera in hand.

More: Man who sued video vigilante gets probation for attempted accosting of children

More: Prosecutor asks vigilante to stop luring men looking for child sex

Earlier: GRPD: 7 arrested after man poses as child to try exposing predators

“The victim in this case wasn’t really a victim at all, but a grown man pretending to be a 15-year-old girl,’’ defense attorney Valerie Foster told the judge.

Johnston, noting Cassiday’s otherwise crime-free past, sentenced him to two years’ probation and ordered Cassiday to perform 120 hours of community service. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender. Cassiday faced up to two years in prison.

In exchange for his September guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the original accosting charge, a four-year felony, and agreed not to charge him with using a computer to commit a crime.

Five of the seven cases are now resolved.  Dan Richard Barnes, who, at 69 is the oldest of the seven defendants, has a plea hearing scheduled for Thursday. Jered Scott Andrus, 38, is scheduled to go to trial in mid-January.

Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth in early May sent Sweers a letter that basically told him to knock it off.

“My office will not authorize any criminal charges based on your ‘YouTube encounters’ beyond those that have already been charged,’’ Forsyth wrote in the May 4 letter.

“There are several reasons for this decision, but they all spring from a concern for your safety and that of the community,’’ Forsyth wrote.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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