A man captured in a Facebook video being accused of arranging to meet a 15-year-old girl in Lancaster is now behind bars.
But the self-described vigilante who filmed the video also is in hot water — charged with child pornagraphy.
Thomas H. Wise, 36, of Columbia, was charged Thursday with five felonies, including attempted statutory sexual assault, along with four misdemeanors. He is at Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail.
The girl was really an adult posing as a child, according to the Lancaster County district attorney's office, which declined to identify the adult.
On Friday, Justin Perry told LNP he was the adult who filmed the video. He also said he was charged Thursday with child pornography. He was released and is awaiting a preliminary hearing.
The offense date listed on Perry's criminal docket is July 20, the day after he said he filmed his encounter with Wise.
Asked why Perry was charged, city police on Friday referred all questions to district attorney’s office, which declined to confirm that Perry was the adult posing as the 15-year-old or to comment on his case.
Incident with Wise
Perry runs a Facebook page where he poses as a young girl who arranges meetings with older men. Using the name “Mr. 17540” — a reference to the ZIP code of his Leola hometown — he records videos of him meeting the men and berating them for trying to meet young girls.
Wise made sexual remarks and solicitations to the undercover adult and sent at least one lewd photo, according to charging documents. Wise attempted to meet the undercover adult at the park, according to the district attorney's office.
Perry said he did not share the video with police but “knew they saw it through Facebook.” The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office was made aware of the encounter and the Facebook Live video, according to a news release from Sheriff Chris Leppler.
The sheriff's office reported the incident to Lancaster city police and the district attorney's office.
‘I’m not the bad guy here’
On Friday, Perry said detectives asked him to go to the station to talk about Wise's case. Once there police asked to see his phone, and then told him they were charging him, according to a video he posted Thursday.
“I think maybe there has been a huge mistake somewhere down the line,” Perry told LNP Friday. “ ... I’m the guy that risks his life by trying to expose these sick people so that people can be aware and protect their children. I'm not the bad guy here.”
He said he was put in handcuffs but then allowed to leave the station.
In a news release about the charges against Wise, the district attorney’s office discouraged the public from being vigilantes:
“The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office and police departments in the county strongly advise citizens against confronting individuals they feel have or are committing crimes. Please contact your local police department in such a situation.”
Other felony charges against Wise include criminal solicitation, statutory sexual assault; criminal attempt to disseminate explicit material to a minor; criminal solicitation, photograph/film/depict on computer sex act, child; and criminal use of a communication facility.
Misdemeanor charges include criminal attempt, corruption of minors; criminal solicitation, indecent assault; tampering with/fabricate physical evidence; and criminal attempt, indecent assault.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. Aug. 15 before Magisterial District Judge Bruce A. Roth.
This story was originally published Friday, Aug. 3.