Scandal Surrounds German 'To Catch A Predator' Show
COLOGNE, Germany -- A German pedophile crime show modeled on NBC's "To Catch A Predator" has found itself as the center of a media storm after a man "outed" as a pedophile on the show has gone missing.
The show -- "Tatort Internet" -- is a vigilante format in which the hosts try to trap pedophiles trying to pick up underage girls online. In Germany, where such aggressive sensationalist-style TV reporting is rate, the show has been sharply criticized.
The critics got even louder after last week's episode, when a 61-year-old man was caught on camera trying to hook up with a 13-year-old girl. Producers digitally scrambled his face to hide his identity but he was recognized and outed by Internet bloggers, whereupon he was fired from his job at a children's home. The man then vanished. Authorities suspect he may have committed suicide.
Caritas, the charity organization that runs the home, said the show and broadcaster RTL 2 put children in danger by not informing them before the program aired. RTL 2 recorded the episode of "Tatort Internet" in May.
"One can only imagine what may have happened in those five months," said Caritas director Clemens Bieber in an interview with German daily newspaper the Suddeutsche Zeitung.
On Monday, RTL2 responded, saying they would in the future give police five days notice before broadcasting a show if the suspected pedophiles work with children or young people.
The incident has become a media event in Germany in part because of the show's host: Stephanie zu Guttenberg, the wife of German defense minister and rising political star Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. She is using the program to push for a change in German law that would make it illegal for adults to cruise the under aged online.