‘Predator catcher’ malicious prosecution lawsuit dismissed | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

A federal judge found Kingston police did not violate Musa Harris’s rights during 2019 arrest

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — A federal judge on Friday threw out a well-known “predator catcher’s” lawsuit against a Luzerne County police department and found its officers did not violate his rights by arresting him more than three years ago.

Kingston police had probable cause to arrest Musa Harris — known online as the “Luzerne County predator catcher” — while investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle in 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion ruled.

The judge likewise wrote he did “not find, and Plaintiff does not point to, evidence suggesting that the police acted maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing Plaintiff to justice when they initiated charges against him.”

“Moreover, Plaintiff has not identified evidence suggesting that his prosecution was motivated by an improper purpose,” Mannion wrote.

Harris, 44, has garnered notoriety in the region during the last several years by publishing videos that see Harris assume the online persona of a child to expose would-be abusers. During his career as a “predator catcher,” Harris claims to have outed more than 600 people, including a school administrator and an elected official.

Harris, meanwhile, has dealt with his own share of legal woes.

In September 2019, while parked on a street in Pringle, police officers tasked with investigating a “suspicious vehicle” approached him, according to court filings.

They said they smelled marijuana. Harris, who had a medical marijuana license, refused to get out of his car and speak with them. An officer reached inside the window while Harris tried to shut it. 

Harris ended up under arrest. A jury in 2021 acquitted him on all charges — obstructing justice, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia — and Harris brought a federal lawsuit claiming he had been wrongfully arrested and maliciously prosecuted.

In his ruling, Mannion found that the police had probable cause to arrest Harris on the charges and they did not violate his constitutional rights. 

Police have brought charges against some of the predator catcher’s targets by using evidence provided by Harris. Some state lawmakers — including Rep. Jim Haddock, of Pittston Township — proposed legislation in September that would broaden the unlawful contact with minor statute to allow anyone to pose as a minor to catch potential predators. 

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