March 4, 2004
Crisis rocks ROH
Robert Feinstein has stepped down today as a partner in Ring Of Honor Inc. and President of RF Video Inc.
"It is with deep regret that I step down as partner of Ring Of Honor Inc. and President of RF Video Inc.," said Feinstein in a statement issued to the media. "Due to recent allegations that have been lodged against me it is in the best interest of both companies that until these allegations are resolved that I step down to avoid tarnishing the excellent reputation that has been built over the years of both companies."
A noted wrestling personality in Philadelphia, Feinstein was allegedly the target of a media sting focusing on adults who cruise Internet chat rooms attempting to contact underage individuals for sexual encounters. NBC 10 (WCAU-TV), a network affiliate in Philadelphia and Perverted-Justice.com joined together on the "Group Media Bust". NBC 10 rented a decoy house while Perverted-Justice.com worked chatrooms as underage individuals. Adults who expressed interest in meeting the minors for sex were then directed to the house where the NBC 10 film crew was waiting to catch them on camera.
Perverted-Justice.com claims that a contributor ("Jay Alternative") contacted the site asking for information on Ring Of Honor due to an individual messaging him on a Philadelphia AOL gay chatroom who represented himself as a wrestler. The conversations "Jay Alternative" had with the "wrestler" ID'd as "RFWrestling", lasted two days and included two phone calls. "Jay Alternative" protrayed himself as a 14-year-old boy.
NBC 10 in Philadelphia aired a story last night showing a man who they identified as Feinstein arriving at the set-up house and then leaving the scene at the sight of the news crew. NBC 10 made the identifacation based on video analysis and the licence plate number on the car. At this time, no charges have been filed against Feinstein.
The Philadephia Inquirer also reports that residents in Newtown Township where the target house was located have demanded that local authorities investigate NBC 10's decision to operate the pedophile sting in their there. The house in question is near an elementary school.
Police Chief Lee Hunter called the station's actions "highly dangerous, totally unethical and immoral". Hunter told Inquirer reporter Marc Schogol that the Delaware County District Attorney's office are indeed probing the case to see whether any criminal charges may apply. Some residents are pondering civil legal action of their own if no criminal charges are brought about in the case.
NBC 10 news director Chris Blackman defended the station's actions. He stated that saying that the community was not identified and that since the sting is over, no more pedophiles would be lured there.
In a statement on the station's site, NBC 10 said of the situation: "Child predators on the Internet are a huge problem, and NBC 10 helped raise public awareness of this issue. In covering this story, NBC 10 believes that no one was put in danger and the station conducted itself responsibly. We have listened to and reported on the community's concerns about this story, and we are open to continuing a dialogue."
"The men that showed up were not random pedophiles - they came for specific rendezvous with a fictitious 14-year-old boy or girl they'd established an online relationship with," Blackman told The Inquirer. "They didn't show up to prowl the neighborhood. NBC 10 did not return phone calls made by SLAM! Wrestling.
In a public statement, Perverted-Justice.com maintained that their investigation was not an indicment on the wrestling business as a whole.
"Perverted-Justice.com is not anti-wrestling in any form. This situation is not a "black eye" on wrestling, or indicative of the average wrestler or wrestling promoter," stated the site, calling for Feinstein to seek counseling and apologize.
A spokesperson for Ring Of Honor Inc. and President of RF Video Inc. told SLAM! Wrestling that all ROH events and everyday RF Video operations will continue as normal.