Local TV anchor on leave after being busted on video allegedly trying to hook up with underage boy

Warning: Adult Content

A New York television anchor was caught on video Saturday after allegedly traveling three hours in order to meet a 15-year-old boy whom he had told, “I wanna cuddle.”

Zach Wheeler, the anchor and news director for the NBC affiliate WETM-TV covering Corning, Big Flats, Elkland, Elmira, Savona and Watkins Glen, was confronted at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store after he had agreed to meet with a person he believed to be a 15-year-old boy.

In what they report to be their twenty-third catch, the group called 607 Predator Hunters filmed the entire encounter and posted it unedited to their social media accounts.

After a montage of other such confrontations, the video begins with a narrator stating, “Sunday evening around 5:00 pm, Zach came to meet what he thought was a 15-year-old boy. Shocked upon our team’s arrival, we followed up with some questions to find out exactly what his intentions were.”

Offering up a bevy of continually changing excuses for his actions that ranged from believing he was meeting an 18-year-old to actually doing his own report into pedophile activity, Wheeler played the victim throughout the entirety of the encounter.

“Why do you guys do this to gay and lesbian people?” he asked at one point as he was leaving the store. “This is what’s happening in the culture, cancel culture. This is what’s happening,” he later said, after being confronted with the slew of lewd and sexual messages he had exchanged with the member of Predator Hunters who had acted as a minor.

“You said, ‘Look at your beautiful eyes,’ ‘I think we’d hit it off honestly,’ ‘You’re into thick, chubbier guys,’ ‘Any shirtless pics?’…’I wanna cuddle,'” the member of the group rattled off as he scrolled through the chat that Wheeler reportedly engaged in. “Who would say that to a minor if, now you’re trying to say you were here to just help him and drop him off?”

After stating that the act of luring a minor to a sexual encounter was a felony, they clarified some of the comments Wheeler was alleged to have made, “‘How many guys have you had sex with?’ ‘Do you like getting head?’… That was all you I was just reading.”

“I will help you guys find more predators, if you want,” Wheeler stated, as he attempted a number of ways to negotiate his way out of trouble. “I know you think I’m some sick predator, but I’m really not.”

“Do you need money?” he asked suggesting he may have been trying to bribe them into not posting the video or reporting him to the authorities after having claimed. “I wasn’t even going to come here, because I knew it was you guys.”

Since the encounter was posted Sunday, Wheeler’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have been shut down and he is no longer listed on WETM’s website. They posted their own statement on Facebook about the recent video.

“WETM has been made aware of a video posted to YouTube regarding one of our employees,” they wrote. “The local group that posted the video claims that the employee engaged in inappropriate behavior. WETM management is looking into the questions raised by the video, and the employee will remain off the air until the situation is resolved. No charges have been filed in connection with the video.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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