A registered Lower Township sex offender was ordered held pending his case’s outcome Monday after he allegedly tried to meet up with a teenage boy.
John Deangelis, 56, was arrested July 26, after an investigation into a video circulating on social media, authorities have said.
“Despite his previous state prison sentence of 15 years, he quite clearly and convincingly continues to pose a threat to the community,” Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue said in his ruling.
Deangelis was convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a person older than 13 but younger than 16 in 1995, with a victim who was his nephew, according to information released in court Monday. He maxed out of that sentence in 2003, according to Department of Corrections Records.
Resident Robert Davis said he didn’t know he was talking to a registered Megan’s Law offender when he took video of Deangelis allegedly waiting for a teen he met through the app Grindr, categorized by the state as a homosexual meet-up dating app similar to Tinder.
But the 15-year-old he thought he was talking to was actually Davis, who then videoed his encounter with Deangelis at the meeting spot.
On the app, Deangelis called himself “Josh” and had a profile picture showing only his chest, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michelle DeWeese told the judge.
She said Deangelis admitted that it was his profile, which was taken down after Davis confronted him.
While the state is waiting for a full transcript of the conversation from Grindr, DeWeese read from the chat provided by Davis.
After a brief introduction, “Josh” asks “What are you in to?”
“Hiking, traveling,” is the reply.
“I’m into playing around and doing some sexual stuff,” says the defendant, according to Davis.
Deangelis then allegedly asks, “Do you want to meet up?”
“You know, I’m only 15,” comes the reply.
“I’m OK with that,” Deangelis allegedly says. “What do you like.”
“You know, I’m 15,” he says again. “I’m gonna be 16.”
“Yeah, that’s OK,” comes the alleged response.
“In addition,” DeWeese told the judge, ” the defendant indicated he was horny and he wanted to play around.”
Defense attorney Laura Gambardello said there were some concerns about the alleged conversation and video, along with Davis’ intentions.
She said the resident admitted being inspired to go after predators due to a YouTube channel by POPSquad, a Connecticut-based movement that stands for Prey on Predators.
“It was a new project I’m starting,” Davis told BreakingAC. “But the cops won’t let me do it again.”
The judge said there was a legitimate point and that there “are people who want to gain notoriety through viral videos.”
“But that doesn’t erase what happened,” Donohue added.
A spokesman for POP said they do not condone someone going into this on their own.
“The primary reason is that it must be executed perfectly from all angles in order to render convictions,” said Bryan Young. “We are glad a predator is behind bars, but there is a lot more to conducting these operations and post operations that must be handled effectively. Any slip from an individual or group attempting to do this is counterproductive and will hurt progress that has been made by POPsquad thus far.”
Deangelis was in court last Wednesday, but DeWeese asked for more time to look over the evidence in the case.