I get a lot of weird stuff in the mail—most of it more funny than frightening. But about three years ago, I received a letter from a pedophile. This guy had written me many times before, mostly droning on about his hooker habit (he even had a Web site devoted to his hobby). His letters were super-creepy, and the intense, psychotic loathing he professed for the sex workers he regularly hired was so palpable, I wondered if he was a serial killer. But this particular letter was different. This time he told me he'd given up on banging pros and, instead, found himself increasingly drawn to little girls. Gulp.
He wrote, "I don't watch much adult TV anymore because I'm checking out the girls on Nick, Disney, etc. I don't consider myself a pedophile and believe that forcing my man-size penis into a girl-size vagina is an abusive and violent act. However, I see nothing wrong with loving, nurturing touch, like cuddling, kissing, massages, and stroking hair."
I remember being uncertain if I should print the letter; in fact, he followed his original note with another letter castigating me for ignoring him. I wasn't sure if he was for real, but after a lot of thought and discussion, my editors and I decided to go with it, and the column ran in the Jan. 26, 2005, issue.
The week it ran, a detective from the Seattle Police Department contacted me and asked if I knew the guy's real name or any other identifying details. After consulting with the Weekly's lawyer, I told him everything I knew, which wasn't much. I mean, I didn't know his name because he signed all his letters "Uncircumcised." (Yeah, I didn't need to know that, either.) The detective told me that they were trying to find him because they were afraid he'd already started abusing girls.
As far as they know, he hasn't. Instead, he dismantled his hooker Web site and turned it into a girl-watching blog—since shut down—complete with photo documentation mapping out his favorite child-watching spots.
In his letter to me, it seemed like he wanted help. He wrote, "The problem is that I'm afraid it might eventually progress beyond that—into Jacko-style sleepovers, showers, full-nude body contact, cunnilingus, etc. I'm aware of how harsh the laws are regarding adults fooling around with girls this young, but the power of the attraction is difficult for me to resist." Ugh.
I gave him several options for getting help and kind of forgot about it until I saw a story in The New York Times about a self-professed pedophile who'd been strong-armed out of Seattle and onto the streets of L.A. I knew instantly it was the same guy. Turns out, his name is Jack McClellan, and as I write this, he's just been released from lockup after being arrested twice in the same day for violating a restraining order that demanded he keep at least 10 yards away from children.
Once I learned his name, I did some research and found that he'd apparently made another appearance in our paper. In a letter to the editor, he argued, "Anyone who is old enough to reproduce is old enough to accept some responsibility for whom they have sex with."
McClellan has also appeared on pretty much any TV show that'll have him, has spoken to the print media extensively, and now proudly calls himself a pedophile. A label he resisted when he wrote me way back when.
No doubt McClellan is one sick bastard, but I wonder if this is just a twisted bid for attention and/or help. Note that he hasn't been accused of molesting any children, just of staring, photographing, and blogging about them. His photo has been so widely published that pretty much any parent with a television set has it memorized by now.
Legal experts say the restraining order was unrealistic, unenforceable, and unconstitutional, all of which, it seems, is true. Meanwhile, what to do? Whether or not he's a threat to children (and it sure seems like he's headed in that direction), he's obviously mentally unbalanced. Scary.
Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.