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Oklahoma predator catchers now in legal trouble

CANADIAN COUNTY, Okla. - Oklahoma Predator Prevention said they are trying to keep children safe but, now, two men who said they try to expose child predators are now in legal hot water.

We have all seen the network shows where criminals are set up online then busted in person when they think they are meeting up with an underage child. Oklahoma Predator Prevention is doing that on their own in the metro.

But, now, one of the alleged predators is fighting back.

"Basically, we bust child predators," said Russell Goodwin.

Goodwin and Jeremy Thomas started Oklahoma Predator Prevention just over a year ago. Online, they pose as 13-, 14- and 15-year-old girls. Older men engage with them. The two then try to set up in person meetings and confront the person.

"These are grown men that are preying on our children right here. Parents need to know it can happen to them." Thomas said.

Thomas and Goodwin are not involved in law enforcement. The two post the videos on their Facebook page.

OPP has gotten hundreds of thousands of views on some. They said most of the feedback from the public has been positive, but...

"Anything you do, you are going to do some type of negativity that comes along with it; I'd say it's 97 good, 3 percent bad," Goodwin said.

Some of that bad is now winding up as a civil case in Canadian County court. Records show a man is suing the two for $10,000, claiming defamation of character.

According to documents, the plaintiff has not been arrest by any law enforcement agency and there are no charges pending.

The suit stems from an incident in September when the OPP set up a sting in for the man in Yukon.

On their Facebook page, Goodwin and Thomas showed text messages they said were sent from the man in question, confirming he thought the girl he was texting was underage.

OPP said the texts go on to show the man sent sexually suggestive messages before the meet up.

The suit claims the videos of the plaintiff have cause him financial loss, damage to his reputation and emotional injury. The plaintiff even claims the defendants personally called his employer, wife and ex-wife to further spread allegations that the plaintiff is a sexual predator.

"He has admitted to knowing that she was 14. He's admitted to agreeing meeting up, and they are trying to sue us and get money for defamation and slander when everything we said happened happened and we devalued his ability in society and his reputation," Thomas said.

"So, you are telling me this guy can go out and prey on children, and get away with it and then try to get a judgement against us, get some money from us; nah, nah, nah, that's not how it works," Goodwin said.

We reached out to the plaintiff's attorney; she told News 4 that she didn't want to comment on the case, especially since a judge issued a gag order on the case on Monday.

Because of that order, OPP has started to take video associated with that case off its site.

Thomas and Goodwin said they are now seeking donations for legal council to help them in the lawsuit.

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