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Bloggers track pedophile to Oregon

THE NATION

Police can't do much about him; McClellan hasn't broken any laws.

September 07, 2007|Tomas Alex Tizon | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Jack McClellan, the self-labeled pedophile who was hounded out of Southern California last month, has eluded criminal prosecution, but he has not been able to shake off the public's watchful eye.

A nationwide web of bloggers who have been tracking his movements told police this week that McClellan had moved to the Portland, Ore., area. The 45-year-old is a native of Arlington, Wash.

"Most of us thought he was going to end up in the Northwest," said Jo Roy, who runs her blog Southern Sass on Crime (southernsassoncrime.com) out of her Michigan home. Roy has been exchanging information with at least a dozen other anti-pedophilia bloggers, who get tips via the phone and Internet. Some infiltrate pedophile chat rooms.

"We want people to know he's out there," said Robert Bush of Southern California, whose blog is called American and Proud (americanandproud.net).

Another California blog, Warriors for Innocence (www .warriorsforinnocence.org), first alerted police and the media of McClellan's move to Portland.

The website operator cited Anthony Zinnanti as the source of the information. Zinnanti, one of two Santa Clarita attorneys who went to court to keep McClellan away from children, has reportedly been in contact with McClellan's parents, but he would not disclose details. He did confirm the Warriors for Innocence information.

According to Portland's daily newspaper, the Oregonian, which contacted McClellan, McClellan said he would no longer photograph children because he now saw it "from the parents' side." McClellan said he chose Portland because of its reputation as a "haven for offbeat people," the paper reported.

Portland police said they hadn't confirmed McClellan's whereabouts. Even if they had, officers wouldn't be able to do anything because McClellan hasn't broken any laws. He is not a registered sex offender and has no obligation to check in with police.

"We don't keep an eye on people just because they're eccentric," said Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. "If we did, we'd be keeping an eye on half the citizens of Portland."

McClellan came to the attention of authorities this year because of Portland-based Perverted-Justice.com.

That group had been monitoring a website McClellan created on which he posted photographs of children in public places and discussed the best local places to watch "LGs" -- little girls. He called himself a "GL," or girl lover.

In March, McClellan told the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald: "I think I'm just the tip of the iceberg of this thing. I think there are a lot of men that have this attraction to little girls."

McClellan's website, Seattle Tacoma Everett Girl Love, was shut down by his Internet provider after a few months, and he moved to the Los Angeles area, where he lived in his car. McClellan reportedly receives a monthly disability check.

In August, he was arrested near a child care center at UCLA for allegedly violating an injunction that barred him from coming near minors. Zinnanti and the other Santa Clarita lawyer had secured the restraining order on behalf of their daughters and other children, but it was later found to be unlawful.

Prosecutors later dropped the charges against McClellan, but a judge ordered him to permanently stay away from places where children gather.

The judge also barred McClellan from contacting, videotaping or photographing children, or publishing their photographs without written consent from a parent.

"I have to leave the state, really; I can't live here under this Orwellian protocol," McClellan told a Los Angeles television station Aug. 26. He did not say where he was going or what he planned to do.

McClellan has said that he created his website as a form of therapy and that he would not do anything illegal.

He has never been charged with a sex crime and has no known criminal history, though police in Snohomish County, where Arlington is, had been aware of him and his website.

"Sues," a Warriors for Innocence blogger who has been tracking McClellan, claims to have infiltrated pedophile message boards he uses. Sues said McClellan or someone posing as him had recently posted about his activities, such as attending the Oregon State Fair. Sues is convinced the postings are authentic.

"The owners of the message board say they actually spoke to Jack and verified that it was him posting," Sues said.

Such networking among bloggers, said Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson, is a modern form of what townspeople used to do: They're watching "the stranger" in their community.

Now the community covers a much larger area, and their communication is electronic.

"The problem with Jack McClellan is that he hasn't committed any sexual crimes, but he makes some of us nervous," Levenson said. "Since society can't commit him or put him in jail, we take other steps."

tomas.alex.tizon@latimes.com

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