But to their credit, KTUU Channel 2 was first out of the gate with the story. The incident began with a series of conversations from October 7-12, transcripts of which were posted October 15th on the website huntingapredator.com. The website describes its mission as “Teaching child predators a lesson since 2011” and posts chat transcripts between men and alleged underage girls, but provides no details about its ownership or operators, which trips a red flag. Fiorucci allegedly engaged in a conversation with someone he met on the dating site POF.com, which requires its users to be at least 18 years old.
According to a transcript posted by Huntingapredator.com, Fiorucci says that he wanted to meet the girl and fantasized about spanking and kissing her. But he also said if they did meet, he’d be a gentleman and take her out to a movie and dinner. The girl apparently sent him a photo, but it’s unclear based on Fiorucci’s reaction if the photo was graphic or sexual. There's also a recording of someone claiming to be the father of the girl confronting Fiorucci, who apologized profusely and said he made a stupid mistake. When KTUU learned of the situation, they fired Fiorucci on Friday October 19th, publishing the following statement:
“Late Friday, Channel 2 was made aware of inappropriate online communications allegedly involving one of our employees, Daniel Fiorucci. We immediately notified Anchorage police so they could investigate the matter. Channel 2 immediately ended Mr. Fiorucci’s employment.”
Anchorage Police Department spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said the department’s cyber crimes unit is now investigating, but although it’s a felony in Alaska to entice a minor to have sex or to send sexual photos, it’s not illegal to engage in a sexual conversation with a minor. Fiorucci has not responded to any media enquiries. The Alaska Court System database page for Dan Fiorucci reveals only a civil case in his past; he was one of numerous defendants in a civil suit for defamation filed by Rishi Maharaj, who was mistakenly portrayed as a sexual predator by some local media outlets.
While many Alaskans are outraged, there was one comment posted on KTVA Channel 11 that tripped another red flag:
anon said today at 5:31 PM:
The dad is the same person posing as the girl. There is no girl and there is no dad.
The commenter provides no proof of the allegation, but there's also no proof that there actually was a 14-year-old girl. There's also no proof that the "irate father" is really an irate father. When you combine this with the fact that Huntingapredator.com provides no details about its ownership or operators, as well as the fact that they demanded unacceptable conditions of reportage from KTUU to include total anonymity, a copy of the article (a link will do), mention of the website address and the fact that there is a donate box in the article, this makes me wonder if this is at best a group of private vigilantes who are launching well-intentioned stings to smoke out possible sexual predators, or at worst are a group of unscrupulous blackmailers out to destroy people. If they are on the level, they should provide more details about their operation. Even Perverted Justice operates with more transparency. Huntingapredator.com may be playing with fire. What if Fiorucci had panicked and blown his head off with a gun; there'd be some prospective liability issues.
This does not mitigate Fiorucci's own responsibility in this matter. Once the conversation began to turn sexual, Fiorucci should have immediately broken it off. Had he done so, he'd still be employed. There is NEVER any reason for an adult to knowingly have a sexual conversation with an underage person, unless the adult is functioning as a pastor or professional counselor or therapist.
But the possibility that Fiorucci may have been targeted by a sting operation is troublesome. A brief biography of Dan Fiorucci follows after the jump:
KTUU still has a bio about Fiorucci online. Dan Fiorucci was hired "sight unseen" by then-news director John Tracy back in 2003. Prior to his move to Alaska, Dan worked as a reporter in Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and even in his home state of New York. He thought Alaska would be a great new adventure. However, he eventually got tired of being separated from his family, so he moved back to the Lower 48 in 2008 to take a job as a freelance writer at the NBC-owned and operated station in Philadelphia. When stories of Alaska were national news, Dan was the Philadelphia-based reporter assigned. But in 2011, Dan decided that being the local "Alaskan expert" in a place like Philadelphia did not compare to being an Alaskan expert in a place like Anchorage. So, he contacted then-news director Steve MacDonald and got re-hired.
Fiorucci liked KTUU's old-style journalistic values, where reporters merely report the news rather than become the news. One of his professional role models was Edward Murrow; he noted that KTUU was the only place which hung a picture of Murrow on the wall. Dan said he’s covered some of the best assignments in his life: a flight over an erupting volcano, living for three days in a village above the Arctic Circle with the Gwich'in people, and a winter flight to the North Slope in to see the one of the most amazing oil fields”in North American history -- Prudhoe Bay – in all of its harsh beauty.
Too bad he's leaving on a sour note.