How did you get involved with Perverted-Justice?
Del Harvey: A friend of mine sent me a link to the Perverted-Justice Web site in December of 2003. I joined up and in February 2004, I was made a contributor. Frag called me and asked me to be involved in the first investigation with “Dateline.” While we were there, I was asked how I felt about becoming the decoy – the person who these men actually saw. Later, I started helping out in our efforts in liasoning with law enforcement, and it just snowballed from there.
In the investigations, you speak to these men on the telephone. You play a young boy, sometimes a young girl. Sometimes these potential predators even see you. How do you get these people to believe that you’re young, and male and female?
I can do the little girl or boy voice. I know it’s not something everybody can do -- it’s a bizarre combination. I wear a hoodie if it’s cool enough outside, or I wear a loose t-shirt. I’m short and skinny, and I can pull of anything I’ve needed to so far. I tend to wear really baggy pants – males or females tend to wear that kind of thing nowadays. I usually have a hat on or a hoodie up. -- All of them have believed it.
How do you feel about being a decoy?
I never felt threatened by being one, and we always had security on site. More than that, I think these guys are cowards. But a week after one of these investigations, I still feel creeped out at the thought that anywhere from 18 to 49 men (depending on how many showed up at the house) thought that I was the child that they were there to have sex with.
Do you think these men are expecting to be exposed?
They’re not only not expecting a cop, they also aren’t expecting one in the form of a 115-lbs. female.
More from TODAY.com
'Wheel of Fortune' contestant gives Snow White an eighth dwarf
We've seen it happen time and time (and time) again: An eager "Wheel of Fortune" contestant stands before a seemingly simp...
- See why Ellie Kemper owes Conan O'Brien and Ellen DeGeneres big time
- Lauren Scruggs Kennedy: 'Life is awesome' after overcoming tragedy
- 6 cleaning shortcuts to help tackle pet hair, blinds, carpets and more
- Would you try black lipstick? KLG and Hoda weigh in on the trend
- 'Wheel of Fortune' contestant gives Snow White an eighth dwarf
Of all the groups you could volunteer with, what motivated you to help out with Perverted-Justice?
Well, one of the things that motivated me happened before I was involved with Perverted-Justice. spent a summer working at a level four psychiatric institution, a mental health state institution. I was working with the girl’s unit, girls aged 11 to 17. Easily 85 percent, if not more, of them had been molested or abused as children. So many of their issues were rooted in that. Seeing something like that motivated me. I had already worked with children as a lifeguard, as a youth advocate, but that drove me to push further. Perverted-Justice looked like a great opportunity.
So how long do you see yourself doing this type of work?
There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be with Perverted-Justice for as long as it exists.
How do you feel about criticism that you guys are working outside of proper channels?
We were called “vigilantes,” and even with all these arrests, we still are. We work with law-enforcement whenever possible. We’re not a group of untrained civilians. We have training, and we’ve also been requested to train police in several different states.
I’ve never worked with a law enforcement group that’s thought poorly of us. They see how good we are. I think they can see that we’re motivated by nothing other than the desire to help.
Does it ever bother you to be chatting with potential predators? Does it take a psychological toll at some point?
It’s certainly something that would take a toll on anybody. The people you’re talking to aren’t exactly good people, but we have strict rules and regulations within our group — if you’re chatting with someone particularly nasty, we have certified counselors who you’re welcome to talk to at any time. You can take a break, and there’s no rule or pressure to keep going.
“Del Harvey” is her Perverted-Justice alias. She opts to keep her real name private for security reasons.