The wandering pedophile

Jack McClellan has been convicted of no crime, but he's become a pariah and an outcast, unwelcome in the Northwest. He loves to blog about his fantasies of little girls, but in reality he is molesting all of us.
Crosscut archive image.

Jack McClellan.

Jack McClellan has been convicted of no crime, but he's become a pariah and an outcast, unwelcome in the Northwest. He loves to blog about his fantasies of little girls, but in reality he is molesting all of us.

Creepy pedophile blogger Jack McClellan is back in the news. The former Washington resident gained fame in Los Angeles earlier this year for a Web site that documented his attraction to and his public stalking of young girls. Not that he ever touches them, he claims. McClellan just likes to watch – and advises other pedophiles where the good viewing is. After being run out of Washington and L.A., he showed up in Portland, where reports are that he has been hounded out of town by Portland transit police:

Jack McClellan, the pedophile blogger who moved from Southern California to Portland this summer, says he won't be spending the winter in rainy Oregon. McClellan said the treatment he received last week from Portland's transit police forced him to return to the Los Angeles area. ... In choosing to move to Portland, he cited its reputation as a "haven for offbeat people." But in a cell phone interview Monday with The Oregonian, McClellan said he's done with the city.

Apparently, Tri-Met security found McClellan was violating transit policy by riding all day. He said he was just trying to stay warm; the cops remembered that McClellan had said transit is a good place to look for girls. They also said he'd admitted on his Web site to drug use (taking magic mushrooms), so they banned him from the system for 60 days.

Some Portland civil libertarians are concerned with his treatment, but Tri-Met says if he was unhappy, he could have appealed their decision. They also note they'd received complaints about him from concerned citizens who have seen him riding the system.

One bizarre aspect to the McClellan case: He's a pedophile who wants to be caught. The New York Times in an article last July referred to his "exhibitionistic blogging." He's never been convicted of a sex crime. The molesting he does is all in his head.

When I was editor of Seattle Weekly, McClellan and I crossed paths, sort of. He wrote a series of anonymous letters to the paper's Dategirl sex columnist, and she has written about their creepy exchanges. McClellan used to run a Web site about Northwest prostitutes, but his interests turned to "the younger kind." Under the guise of seeking advice, he mostly seemed to be enjoying inhabiting the pedophile archetype. As Dategirl wrote last summer:

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.

Ironically, it was a column I wrote about sex, torture, and using technology to incriminate oneself that motivated McClellan to write Seattle Weekly under his own name in 2004. I had no idea who he was.

The piece focused on the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and good people (like all-American GIs) who do evil things. I tied that behavior to the Neil Goldschmidt sex scandal. Goldschmidt, the popular former Democratic governor of Oregon and onetime Portland mayor, had been for decades covering up the fact that he'd had a sexual relationship with his family's babysitter, starting when she was 14. The public exposure of that and the story of its aftermath and the devastation in the victim's life subsequently won Williamette Week a Pulitzer Prize. I criticized Goldschmidt's characterization of that relationship as an "affair" when it really was a rape – statutory rape.

McClellan took exception to my characterization. In his letter to the editor, he said that the age of consent in Canada is 14:

Anyone who is old enough to reproduce is old enough to accept some responsibility for whom they have sex with.

In other words, if a girl is fertile, even at age 9, she's fair game. Consent or power differentials don't come into play, it's simply a matter of biology.

The theme of my original column – especially as it related to Abu Ghraib – was the role of personal technology in abuse cases. Why was it that these soldiers seemed to take pleasure in documenting the humiliation of their victims? Did the ability to take photographs with their cell phones contribute to an escalation of events? Here was my take at the time:

We live in a culture that thrives on the ritual humiliation of reality TV. We're so obsessed with personal communication that our telephones travel everywhere and record every precious thing we do – "Look, Ma! I'm sodomizing an Iraqi!" By obsessively self-promoting ourselves into celebrityhood–in real time via the Internet, camcorders, mobile phones, and digital handheld personal assistants–we've become the Information Age's compulsive media masturbators. We just can't keep our paws off ourselves. In this environment, leaving incriminating evidence is inevitable.

Unbeknownst to me then but clear to me now, that's just what Jack McClellan is doing. He's created a kind of celebrityhood out of his own self-documented pedophilic obsessions. It's a form of ritual humiliation and self-flagellation. Instead of getting off on keeping secrets, he's getting off by becoming a pariah and making us all sick to our stomachs.

Dategirl got it half right: The "sick bastard" is not seeking help, but he does crave attention. And we have to give it to him because of the harm he could do if he one day crossed the line he enjoys tiptoeing up to.

It's not just self-abuse. He's using technology to abuse us all.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.