Stories posted are written by National news Journalists, not by this blog
Our Blog Tips

Web-savvy moms stalk pedophile

6-17-2007 California:
Mom-based Internet sites that usually focus on tame topics like finding an affordable nanny or buying ballet shoes have latched on to a more serious issue: Getting rid of an admitted pedophile who recently moved to the Los Angeles area.

Users of Web sites including Peachhead, Moms Club and Booby Brigade are using a high-tech form of vigilante justice to try to exile a man named Jack McClellan, a self-proclaimed pedophile with a Web site of his own.

"I can't think of a topic that has been as heated as this," said Linda Perry, who launched in 1997. "There have been lots of incidents of people coming together, but I can't think of an example of where it was fighting an evil."

It all started a few weeks ago when Jane Thompson, a member of a Yahoo! group called Booby Brigade, discovered that her toddler son had caught McClellan's eye.

Under pressure from Mothers Against Sexual Predators in Seattle, McClellan moved from Washington state to Los Angeles and relaunched his Web site, which had been shut down in the Pacific Northwest. It lists outdoor venues for watching children and rates them, based on how many kids are present.

It was one such posting, about a group of "cuties" dancing onstage at the Lummis Day Festival in Highland Park on June 3, that caught Thompson's attention. Her son was among the youngsters described by McClellan.

After getting over her initial shock and horror, Thompson sprang into action, posting a message on the Booby Brigade bulletin board that asked members to come up with ways to fight back.

"I didn't even know this person existed until 10 days ago," Thompson said. "Someone posted a link to an article, and normally it's the kind of thing I would have just deleted, but some intuitive voice said, `Check this out.' I read it and said, `Holy cow, this guy's talking about my kid!"'

In the days since she posted her appeal, members of Peachhead, Moms Club and Booby Brigade have set up a donation site, started circulating fliers with McClelland's photo at parks and other public areas, and launched a phone campaign to notify local police and schools of McClellan's presence.

Information such as the make and model of his car is being sent from moms groups in Seattle, then posted on local Web groups.

Admitted attraction

Ron Tebo, a Web master and concerned father in New York, set up, a frequently updated "anti-Jack McClellan" site that includes information from online groups and from McClellan's own site.

According to Tebo's site, McClellan has been seen in recent days in Burbank and at the Santa Clarita Lanes bowling alley.

McClellan could not be reached for comment. But in an earlier interview with Fox News, he said he's attracted to girls ages 3 to 11, and gets a sexual high from being around them.

And in an interview this week with KCAL-TV (Channel 9), he said, "It really isn't just a sexual thing, it's really the whole ambiance of being around children that I enjoy."

When asked whether he is a pedophile, he said, "I didn't even consider myself one till a couple years ago. I started reading some of this stuff on the Internet and it resonated with me."

Thompson said her goal is to get legislation passed that would protect a child's image on the Internet, even if the image is not in itself illegal.

Other angry parents have suggested hiring a private investigator to follow McClellan and even resorting to violence.

Pattie Fitzgerald, the founder of Safely Ever After, a Santa Monica company that runs safety workshops for kids and parents, said anger is understandable, but that a more calculated response would do more good.

"I've been watching it on Peachhead. Last week it started to get, `Let's get the torches and burn the village down.' I understand that, but you have to do some other things to protect your kids.

"For every Jack McClellan out there, there's five others in your neighborhood that you don't know anything about," she said.

Fighting back

Instead of focusing all the attention on a publicity-hungry person like McClellan, she said, parents should teach their kids some basic preventive skills.

In her workshops, Fitzgerald teaches kids key phrases to help them respond during an encounter with what she calls a "tricky" person.

First, kids are told to always "check first" with the responsible adult in charge before going anywhere or doing anything with another person. The minute someone asks them something that's against the rules, they should "cut the conversation" and run to the safe grown-up in charge.

Telling kids not to talk to strangers is probably worse than doing nothing, she said, because "kids think a stranger is a scary man with a green face and a scary cape who looks like the boogeyman." If someone looks nice, then they aren't considered a stranger by kids, she said.

Beyond teaching such skills and keeping kids safe in all the common-sense ways, there isn't much that can be done about McClellan.

"He likes to go to the edge," said Lt. Thomas Sirkel of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Special Victims Bureau. "As soon as he goes over it one iota, we will respond."

Sirkel said the department knows about McClellan and is working with other law enforcement agencies to track him. However, authorities currently don't know his whereabouts.

But even if they did, there's not much that can be done, because McClellan has never been arrested or convicted of breaking the law.

"The fact that he hasn't been caught yet is what has people's hands tied," Thompson said.

"The flagrant manner with which he goes about exposing his desires is a slap in the face to every loving parent and every law enforcement officer." ..more.. by BARBARA CORREA

No comments: