A Photo Teacher |

“Why Did You Have Your Camera With You?”

Posted in PHOT 167 by Paul Turounet on September 23, 2008


Police mugshot of Jack McClellan, 2007 © AP/Santa Monica Police Department


Self-proclaimed pedophile Jack McClellan had been arrested in 2007 near the Infant Development Program building on the University of California, Los Angeles campus for breaking a recently issued a temporary restraining order requiring him to stay away from anyone under the age of 18. In addition, he was told not to photograph children nor post photographs of them without parental consent on the Internet. After a television interview, which took place in a parking lot on the UCLA campus, McClellan was arrested a second time for trespassing.

Since arriving in Los Angeles from Washington state, McClellan had been granting interviews, discussing his attraction to little girls (LG’s) and the website he had been posting the photographs on. McClellan had been posting photographs of little girls he had in taken in public places he would stake out, including parks and fast-food restaurants. While police in Washington had been monitoring his website for a couple of years, they found no evidence of any criminal activity. The host-server recently took the website down off the Internet.


KTLA Reporter Chip Yost – Why did you have your camera with you?

McClellan – Umm, I always carry it with me because I don’t want it getting ripped off. There weren’t…

Yost – Were you taking pictures of kids with it?

McClellan – No, there weren’t even any batteries in it…umm…as the police probably noted, so no.


It was believed the temporary restraining order would not be able to withstand constitutional challenges as it could be seen as too restrictive of his freedom of speech and movement. According to California law, a temporary restraining order issued by a California court can be challenged on constitutional grounds during any criminal contempt case. While the idea of advocating pedophilia (defined as an adult who has a preferential or exclusive sexual attraction by adults to prepubescent youths) is incredibly disturbing, it is not against the law nor is it against the law to take photographs of children in public places without parental consent.

Click here to read more on the legal dilemma of McClellan’s temporary restraining order.


Consider and respond to the following:

  1. How should such a situation be handled as it raises significant issues regarding the personal safety of children in public places in relationship to the constitutional rights of an individuals freedom of expression, including taking photographs of children in these very same public places?
  2. Because McClellan is a self-proclaimed pedophile, does this give society the right to infringe upon his constitutional rights?
  3. What do you consider “off-limits” to photograph within a public context?



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