His name’s Jack McClellan and by his own admission he’s a pedophile — with a twist. He doesn’t actually touch kids, he simply hangs around places where they’re known to congregate and posts the addresses and photos he’s taken there on his website. (Or at least he did; as far as I know, the site’s down now.) Creeped out beyond belief, a bunch of parents in California applied to a local court for a TRO against him and got one. But with a twist there, too — the TRO covers the entire state, not just the local area, and prohibits McClellan from “following, stalking, hitting or loitering” within 10 yards of a minor. The cops arrested him for his first violation yesterday afternoon after he was caught hanging out outside UCLA’s Infant Development Program. Patterico sides with Eugene Volokh, who says it’s a bridge too far:
[T]he breadth of the order raised some questions for 1st Amendment expert Eugene Volokh, who called it “more or less house arrest.” Volokh, a UCLA law professor, said that restricting McClellan to 10 yards away from any child in California means “you can’t go to the store, you can’t walk down the street …. He can’t go to court to challenge this. How can you be sure you can stay away from anyone 17 and younger?”…
“They have an understandable worry this guy is going to do something bad,” said Volokh. “But that’s not enough. You need at least probable cause to believe some crime has been committed.”
I must be misunderstanding what the word “loitering” means because Volokh seems to think that McClellan’s at risk of arrest if he so much as passes a kid in the street. As I read it, it means he can’t linger near them. Which, admittedly, doesn’t quite solve the conundrum — e.g., can he buy coffee at the local Starbucks if the baristas are under 18? — but it ain’t exactly house arrest either. As for the point about probable cause, any lawyers want to help answer that one? It should be noted that the TRO here was a civil harassment order, which, according to California’s court page, is available against anyone who’s “stalked, harassed, sexually assaulted, or threatened”. Arguably McClellan’s website provides proof of stalking, but only against the children of whom he’s taken photos, not every child in the state.
The most workable solution would probably be to revise the order by limiting it to places children congregate: schools, playgrounds, any site where one should reasonably expect to find two or more children. Doesn’t solve the probable cause problem but it does at least give him a little breathing room in transit. See this comment at Patterico’s site, though, arguing that maybe there is probable cause after all.
Here’s the man himself two weeks ago on Fox enjoying and yet not enjoying the attention he’s getting. If he didn’t have such a long history of following kids around I’d suspect this whole thing was a stunt to get in the papers.