Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter readers may remember a post I wrote back in January on my love for Duane “Dog” Chapman, the unlikely star of the A & E series “Dog: The Bounty Hunter” and a deeply faithful Christian.

The long-haired, leather-wearing, born-again Dog (God spelled backwards, of course)–along with his wife/business partner Beth, son Leland, and “blood brother” Tim Chapman (no relation)–track fugitives who have jumped bail after being bonded by Dog and Beth’s agency “Da Kine Bail Bonds.” They’re also hired by outside bond agencies to track their bail jumpers.

Now, Dog, who is known for showing compassion to those he captures, is facing legal troubles of his own. On September 14, he was arrested by federal marshals at his home in Honolulu for jumping bail in Mexico after a 2003 arrest there, related to his capture of Andrew Luster, heir to the Max Factor fortune and a convicted rapist.

Last night, A&E aired a special episode of Dog’s show entitled “The Family Speaks,” explaining the case that started it all and why Dog was arrested.

In 1996, 1997, and 2000, Luster raped three women after giving them the “date-rape drug” GHB. He even videotaped the assaults. In 2003, while on trial, Luster jumped bail and fled to Mexico. He was convicted in absentia of 86 of the 87 charges against him and sentenced to 124 years in jail.

When a then-unknown Dog heard about the case, it hit home for him as the father of four daughters and six sons, and he dedicated his own time and money to finding Luster. After following a lead to Mexico, Dog, along with Leland and Tim, spotted Luster at a bar. In last night’s special, Dog recounts the capture and says that when he found the felon, he said, “Freeze, Andrew Luster, in the name of the United States of America. Your days of raping are over.”

Dog claims that when they tried to bring Luster back over the border, Mexican police arrested all parties. Initially, Dog thought he was being “Punk’d,” set-up by the popular MTV hidden-camera show.

Because bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, Dog, Leland, and Tim were charged with “unlawful depravation of individuals” and “illegal seizure,” and faced six months to four years in jail. Luster was handed over to U.S. authorities to begin his jail sentence. After spending a week in jail, the bounty-hunting gang was set free on bail and returned to the U.S. Lawyers told them that their crimes are misdemeanors under American law, and so as long as they didn’t return to Mexico, they would never need to go back to court or do jail time. They all returned home and hadn’t heard anything further about the case–until now. Suddenly, Mexican authorities are fighting to extradite the three bounty hunters.

Many of Dog’s fans–myself included–are upset and appalled at his arrest. Although he may have broken Mexican law by capturing Luster, he has saved countless women from this sick sexual predator. We shouldn’t be concerned about the civil rights of a monster like Luster, and we should instead focus on the good that has come of his capture–namely, that women can sleep a little easier at night. We should reward Dog for his efforts, not punish him.

One of Luster’s victims, Tonja “Doe,” is trying to do just that. After Luster fled the country, his apartment was searched, and among videotapes and a supply of GHB, a “hit list” was found, documenting all of the people who were testifying against him. “Doe” was on this list and credits Dog with saving her life. Since Dog’s arrest, she has set up a website to solicit donations to help with his legal expenses: A Myspace page, has also been created, which includes a petitions to drop all charges against him, Leland, and Tim.

Dog’s family is comforted by their faith, and last night’s special showed Beth, her children, and other family members standing in a circle, praying for the release of the rest of the team. On September 16, the group was released on bail, but forced to wear electronic monitoring devices. Although the family is still concerned he will be extradited, they are trying to remain optimistic.

“[Dog] walked the walk, and showed mercy to so many people, that surely mercy will be shown on him,” said Beth.

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