Pepperdine University employee on leave after arrest

Scott Woeckel, senior analyst-instructional systems at the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law was arrested on Aug. 12by the Glendale Police Department at the Glendale Galleria shopping center. Contriubted photo.

Caruso Law School staff member caught in sting conducted by self-described ‘child advocacy’ group

Pepperdine University has placed a staff member on leave following his arrest on suspicion of soliciting a minor. The university announced the news via a Pepperdine Law Instagram page. The posting confirms the arrest of Scott Woeckel, who worked as a senior analyst-instructional systems at the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law.

The arrest was made Aug. 12 by the Glendale Police Department at the Glendale Galleria shopping center. Police were tipped off by a private group that calls itself “CC Unit” which stands for “Creep Catchers Unit,” although it is not affiliated with a national “Creep Catchers” association (CCUSA). CC Unit is a self-described “child advocacy” group that uses adults posing as minors online using sting operation tactics to expose and help apprehend online child predators. 

CC Unit claims it posed as a 13-year-old girl through an online app and that Woeckel asked for photos and was intending on meeting the underage girl in Glendale for sex. CC Unit has posted video of the arrest on its social media.

There is no word yet if Woeckel will face charges from a district attorney, though. 

Other jurisdictions, such as in Orange County, have placed a greater level of scrutiny on cases brought to their attention by groups such as CC Unit. There have been instances in Orange County where the District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges against men who were the target of these underground groups. The OC district attorney declined to press charges in a recent Fullerton case on the grounds that CC Unit does not catch criminals in the act of committing a crime, but that they entice individuals to undertake criminal activity in a nongovernment-sanctioned sting. 

CC Unit claims to be responsible for “catching” over 300 child predators in Southern California, even though law enforcement and prosecutors are reluctant to publicly support their efforts or prosecute in many cases where an adult decoy from the CC Unit was posing as a child. 

The popular television show “To Catch a Predator,” which ran from 2004-08, was cancelled after using similar tactics. The show was taken off the air after a series of controversies and criticism of the program’s methods and accusations of entrapment. Some critics of the show said it didn’t cover the news, but rather created the news.

Pepperdine wrote in a statement: “Staff member Scott Woeckel will remain on leave pending investigation. The University takes seriously such accusations and will always take appropriate action in such situations.”

This is the second case in as many months of someone connected to Pepperdine arrested on charges targeting minors for sex. The Pepperdine student newspaper The Graphic wrote that in July, according to the Los Angeles Times, Barry Fike, who previously taught at the university, was arrested on allegations of soliciting a 15-year-old girl for sex. That arrest was made following an investigation by the Ventura County Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The 67-year-old former visiting professor at the university pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. Fike had also previously taught at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village. He is not currently teaching at either of the schools according to the District Attorney’s Office.