"Dark Side of the Net"

Rob Nickel spent 14 years as a detective, over half of which was with the child pornography division. "The undercover work I did was meeting with pedophiles, talking with them day in and day out, see how they think, see how they act. What I learned is most parents didn't have a clue of what their children were doing online, which put them in direct danger with online predators."

Rob sits before a computer in a hotel room in Las Vegas. "What I'm going to do is just enter some chat rooms that are frequented by pedophiles and see if I can't build a connection with a local person, to see if we can make a meeting, and if we're successful, this will show

the public the dark side of the Net like they've never seen before."


Rob looks over a list of chat rooms, some of which are populated with 50 or 60 people, and settles on one called "Dad & Daughter Sex." Within five minutes he finds somebody from Las Vegas. "I'm actually on with a person by the name of ShadowMaster who was involved with two of his daughters. He's also talking to me now about wanting to continue that with other kids." Rob asks ShadowMaster,

"What was your daughter like? OK, we've got a graphic response. 'She was sweet, and I laid her on my lap with her legs on my shoulders, her *** in my mouth, holding her pretty little ***** in my hand.' He's asking me if I touch my girls, and I said, 'No, not yet.' And then I'm asking him how he got the courage to touch his. And he said, 'She and I were alone, and she was sitting on my lap wiggling, and I was getting h*** so I pulled off her panties ... '"

ShadowMaster keeps the conversation going for nearly four hours.

"My goal on this assignment right now is to build a rapport with him," Rob explains. "It's the same thing they do with children they meet on the Net: chit chat, make them feel more comfortable. The same way they do it with the kids, I do it with the pedophiles."

Rob tells ShadowMaster that he has three daughters: 9-year-old Jules, 7-year-old Shannon and 4-year-old Megan, and he discusses the possibility of coming to Las Vegas again with them. "And he was interested in being daycare for the girls," says Rob. "He's up for it."

Four days later, Rob stands in the middle of the hotel room, lifting his shirt so a technician can adjust a microphone taped to his chest. He is being wired to capture both audio and video. "You won't know where the camera is on me, and I'll have two shirts on, so it should hide everything quite nicely," he says.

Rob uses his computer to tell ShadowMaster that he's just returned from playing tennis, that he's going to have a shower, and that he will be out to pick him up shortly.

ShadowMaster says, "Sounds good."

"We're all ready to go. I've got the hidden camera on and, as you can tell, you can't see where it is, can't see anything on me, so we're ready to rock," says Rob.

On his way to meet ShadowMaster, Rob explains that a back-up team is in place in case the situation goes bad. Heading up the surveillance team is former FBI agent Harold Copus.

"You always get a little bit nervous," says Rob.
You just don't know if he's got any weapons on him. Is he a vigilante? You just never know what's going to happen."

Harold explains that his team will have cars positioned to the north, south and east of Rob, all within surveillance range. "We're worried about his safety," he says.

"One of the worst things about going to meet a pedophile is you have to talk the talk, and you have to get into the role," says Rob. "Some of the things I'm going to have to say are quite rude. But you have to get dirty to get the dirty, so they say."

As Rob pulls up to ShadowMaster's house, Harold's team has him in sight. Rob goes directly to the front door, where ShadowMaster greets him. Rob invites him to lunch. Harold and his team follow by car.

Rob tells his new friend that he'd like to step outside for a cigarette. Once outside, hidden cameras capture their conversation.

Rob: Well, you consider yourself a pedophile because you like kids, right? Like, I don't know, I figure I am because that's my sexual interest.

ShadowMaster: Well, the thing is, I have eclectic interests, so you know, it's not strictly pedophile.
Rob: No, you get into the bondage and stuff like that.
ShadowMaster: And the older girls and stuff ... And also ... if it's female, looks decent ...

Rob: It's good for the taking. Like a 6-year-old p*** in your mouth. You're a lucky, lucky man.
ShadowMaster: She was a licky, licky girl.

Aware of how shocking his own end of the conversation might sound to anyone outside of law enforcement, Rob explains, "When you meet them in person, you have to be one of them, and this is how they speak."

Rob: So, your best advice to break her in is maybe get Shannon [fictitious daughter] doing it first.
ShadowMaster: Well, either that, or when you bring her down, you know, just snuggle her, cuddle her, hold her, touch her. You know, get her used to being touched if you don't do it a lot now, you know? I mean, being a dad " just because she's 9 doesn't mean you can't hug her and hold her and, you know.
Rob: Yeah, what if she says, "Dad, why are you getting h***?" Like, I'm trying to think of everything that " she could just go to Kim and, even if she likes it, she could still go to my wife and say, "Daddy's pee pee went h***." I don't know what she'd say.

ShadowMaster: Well, you know, "Because you're a very pretty little girl and you make Daddy feel good."
Rob: Yeah, I guess. I like your idea about getting my 7-year-old there, Shannon.
ShadowMaster: Mmm hmm. It's kind of like the sibling rivalry thing?

Rob: The way you're doing it, I should be doing it.
ShadowMaster: "I'm older than you. Why are you getting to do this, and I can't?"
Rob: But how do I make sure they don't tell?
ShadowMaster: Promise. Make them promise not to.
Rob: That's true. She keeps her promises.
ShadowMaster: As long as they keep their word. And that's all I had to do with mine. It's "This is between you and Daddy. Don't tell anybody."
Rob: That's what you told your two girls?
ShadowMaster: Uh huh.

Rob: Seriously, what would you get down here for ...
ShadowMaster: Twenty years.
Rob: You'd get 20 years for doing your daughter?
ShadowMaster: Uh, huh.
Rob: What do you call it? San Quentin...
ShadowMaster: San Quentin Quail.
Rob: So, that's what young stuff is?
ShadowMaster: Uh huh.
Rob: Never heard that one before, but I like that.
ShadowMaster: Because it will send you to jail in a heartbeat. And pedophiles in prison, you don't want to be one.
Rob: I just, I'm paranoid of getting caught.
ShadowMaster: Well, I don't blame you. S***, that's only healthy. Be paranoid. But, like I said, snuggle with Jules. What does she wear to bed?
Rob: Usually just panties.
ShadowMaster: Tell her, "Come to bed."
Rob: "We're in Vegas. It's hot."
ShadowMaster: Yeah, "It's hot here. Just take off your T-shirt. You can sleep in your panties."

Back in his studio, Dr. Phil asks Rob, "Do you just want to go shower for like

two hours after being around this kind of slime-ball scuzzbag?"

"Pretty much, but you have to understand, doing it for seven years you get kind of desensitized to it because I had to play the role," says Rob. "Sitting across from them, what's going through my head is, I can't believe this guy is actually talking like this. I can't believe there are people out there like this, but the fact is, there are. There's a ton of people out there like that."


"And what he is basically doing is coaching you on how he did it, and how you should do it," says

Dr. Phil, "how to desensitize them, how to swear them to secrecy, how to do all of the things that you have to do in order to make it happen and get away with it."

"And get away with it," says Rob. "That's the big thing. And that's one of their major concerns. You heard him on the video saying, 'You know, I could get 20 years for this, but you know if they complain when I'm dead, I can't do time when I'm in the grave.' So he's very understanding about what he's up against and what could happen."