Chris Hansen appeared on the Coptales and Cocktails podcast and told the story about how he helped catch a Michigan police officer in a child predator sting.
The journalist of To Catch a Predator fame previously spoke about part-time cop Todd Barraco in an announcement in March joined by Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, but Hansen took a decidedly more informal tone with Coptales hosts Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin and ICU nurse Howard Doss.
“So he’s getting shitty with me,” Hansen said on the new episode. “I mean he’s just indignant. He’s turning around. [Doing an impression of Barraco.] ‘Turn all those cameras off.’ And ordering me what to do. I said, ‘Look, you’re not running the show here.’ And there’s cameras over here, cameras over here, and cameras over here. And now the big cameras come on.”
In this account, Barraco denied wrongdoing, but Hansen confronted him with chatlogs between the officer and a person who was ostensibly a 15-year-old. Hansen also said he confronted Barraco with lubricant the officer brought with him.
Hansen indicated that he did not know but guessed at the time this person was in law enforcement.
“I said, ‘That’s going to be a cop, a school administer, somebody in a position of authority,’ as I mentioned earlier.” Law enforcement found three loaded guns, “creds,” and handcuffs in Barraco’s vehicle, Hansen said.
It turned about that Barraco was indeed in a position of authority. He was a part-time officer with the Vassar Police Department in Michigan. Officials fired Barraco when he was charged with child sexually abusive material, communicating with another to commit a crime, and accosting for immoral purposes, according to WEYI.
“This morning we were informed that Todd Barraco (a part-time employee) was arrested and charged by the Genesee Co Sheriff’s Office (Ghost Team),” Chief Benjamin Guile said at the time. “Upon learning of the details of his arrest Mr. Barraco’s employment with the Vassar Police Department has been terminated.”
Hansen had worked with the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team [G.H.O.S.T.] as part of an undercover operation. As in his old show To Catch a Predator, Hansen confronted suspects who showed up to a residence allegedly under the impression that there were going to engage in illicit sexual activity with juveniles as young as 13, 14, or 15. Hansen and Swanson said in March that in Barraco’s case, the officer thought he was going to meet a 15-year-old.
“When he left I said to your crew, ‘I will bet you money this guy is a teacher, a principal, a cop or a clergyman or somebody in authority,'” Hansen told Swanson at the time, citing the suspect’s “sense of indignation.”
Barraco worked for police departments and school districts since 2009, according to WJRT.
He reportedly resigned as a middle and high school principal in Merrill, Michigan, in 2016 after facing allegations, including grabbing and threatening a child, and also being drunk on school property. The school district had been moving to fire him. He later spent about a year with the Akron-Fairgrove School district, with Superintendent Diane Foster telling the outlet she did not know of the issues in Merrill.
Barraco previously served as a juvenile probation officer in the Lapeer County Family Court, and also worked with the Marine City Police Department, Oxford Police Department, Mayville Police Department, and Memphis Police Department, according to MLive.
“And now people are coming out of the woodwork to me about stuff [Barraco] has done before,” Hansen told Coptales. “Why he was fired from a previous agency. He was also a school administrator in charge of kids. I had the supervisor of a small town say that he went to her home and harassed her because she fired him.”
The supervisor claimed that Barraco later pulled her over and wrote her a ticket for going 30 mph over the speed limit “just to jam her up,” Hansen said.
An attorney of record for Barraco did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request of comment.
You can listen to the full episode below. You can also listen to Coptales and Cocktails on Spotify.
[Screenshot of Hansen via Law&Crime Network; booking photo of Barraco via Genesee County Sheriff’s Office]
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