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Dad confronts and videotapes stranger taking photos of children at public pool

A Galesburg man was arrested in connection with taking photos of women and kids at a local swimming pool, after one of their dads confronted him on videotape.

“I seen an older man, and he was sitting in his car taking photographs. I noticed he had put the camera on my kids,” said Jordan Allen, of Galesburg.

“I sat back and watched him take pictures of other women and other kids. At that point I approached him,” he said.

The man, now identified as 57-year-old Kerry Cox of Galesburg, Illinois, took off in his car. But Allen posted his description and a partial license plate number on Facebook,  and found out who he was almost immediately.

Allen went to Cox’s  house and demanded that the images of his girlfriend and two young children be deleted.

Cox initially denied having any photos, but Allen persisted, and eventually found several on Cox’s digital camera.

“I was so angry. When I saw the actual pictures and everybody’s kids on there, it just blows my mind,” Allen said.

Cox is also heard on the video questioning if Allen is a “churchgoer” and overly moral.

Police arrested Cox for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor; not for taking the pictures, but for alarming parents in a public place.

“It’s legal to take the pictures, but it’s not legal to alarm individuals attending that public place,” said Lt. Tom LaFollette, with the Galesburg Police Department.

Police say, if there’s no proof the photos are for anything other than personal use, no law has been broken. But, they also say Cox  was reported for similar reasons a few years ago.

“There’s some other cases, this person was a suspect in ’06 and ’07.  Same thing, taking pictures; but, again, the cases weren’t proved up that he was using them for any type of exploitation,” said Lt. LaFollette.

Allen says it may not be “illegal” but it’s “wrong.”

“He was trying to be sneaky. I mean, why would he have pictures of kids? I think if I wouldn’t have gone to his house, he wouldn’t be arrested.”

Cox was out of jail, but could not be reached for comment.

37 comments

  • Mike Ross (@eruptionchaser)

    I predict a big payday for this guy.
    “Police arrested Cox for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, not for taking the pictures, but for alarming parents in a public place.”
    Can we say unconstitutionally vague??
    “It’s legal to take the pictures, but it’s not legal to alarm individuals attending that public place,”
    So, your first amendment rights stop if someone is ‘alarmed’ or claims to be ‘alarmed’??
    Fascinating. And very very stupid. The ACLU – and the NPPA, if he’s a member – will have a field day with this.
    Oh and Mr. Allen is very silly; what’s the point of going through this charade of deleting images in the YouTube video, when Mr. Cox can just undelete them after you leave?!

    • Rick Lundeen

      With everything that goes on, it seems like each day I read about some teacher, priest or other person being arrested for going after kids or putting cameras in and spying on people, people are just on edge. I mean, why would a person be taking pictures on a regular bases of women and kids he doesn’t even know. It’s like with the Drone stuff, people are getting upset over seeing Drones with cameras buzzing around taking pictures, maybe it is innocent, maybe not. With this case in Galesburg, a whole lot of people have become very upset with this and letters are pouring into the DA’s office to do something (which is why he arrested on this smaller charge ) On the other hand, I thought that when you took pictures of people, you now had to have their consent. The guy who made the videos “Girls Gone Wild” use to just go and tape drunk women and then sell the tapes and made a fortune but he was eventually sued and now has to have written permission on record of anyone he tapes.

      • Rory Cornelius

        Rick – You do not need any consent to take pictures of people in public. Once you’ve taken the pictures, however, there are legal limits on what you can do with those pictures without first obtaining consent from the people in the photographs. The Girls Gone Wild producer was under no legal obligation to get any consent from the women he photographed in order to actually take their pictures. If they were in public when the pictures were taken, there’s nothing they can do to stop it. He DOES, however, need consent to then publish those photos on DVD, or wherever, and propagate them for commercial gain. The reason for this is because, according to law, people control the commercial rights to their own likeness. It has nothing to do with whether or not he was allowed to actually take the photos. If they were in public, he’s allowed. He was sued not for taking the photos without permission, but for causing damages to the people photographed by publishing the photos for commercial gain without their permission.

  • Ms. Johnson

    I’m just curious as to WHY an adult would be sitting in their car taking pictures of children in bathing suits? Seems a bit creepy to me. Though I’d be furious if I found out some perv had done that, it still doesn’t give the police the right to make up a reason to arrest him. If it’s not illegal to take the pictures, then no charges should have been filed!

  • JillS.

    I think the police are aware it was a stretch to arrest him. I could see them doing it in hopes of “scaring him straight”. As a parent myself it wouldn’t matter if it is legal or not- if I saw a person taking pictures of my kids the way this individual did his phone would be long gone by now. I applaud the father for keeping his cool throughout the confrontation.

    • Filip Peterson

      Using the word maybe doesn’t fly in the american justice system. If he is doing that stuff, arresting people as a preventative measure isn’t okay. If you saw a man coming towards you in what I would assume(because everyone else is)is an aggressive manner you would leave as fast as you could. He’s probably just a lonely older man that like to take pictures to pass the time. If it was an older lady nobody would bat an eye.

  • Steve Dave

    It is his constitutional right to photograph anything in plain sight from a public place, with no expectation of privacy. When you’re in public you are fair game, so dress and act accordingly. This guy could be a creep, but no one knows what he is using the photos for. He could be an artist for all you know. Plus, in this age we are on camera everywhere we go! Do you accost to the grocery store manager and demand the footage of your kids while you were shopping be deleted? This is first amendment we’re talking about. It’s comments like some of these that trample the constitution so many have given their lives to protect. Not everyone with a camera is a pedophile and a terrorist people.

    • WendyWhiner

      Steve, although I pretty much agree with you, this case has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment:
      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      • Rory Cornelius

        That depends, Wendy. In a legal context, the term ‘speech’ is not strictly limited to spoken, or written, word. There is Supreme Court case law which specifically identifies ‘communicative photography’ as protected speech under the first amendment. However, there is also Supreme Court case law which specifically identifies non-communicative photography as not falling under the protections of the first amendment. The legal ruler, currently, seems to be whether the photographer took the photos with the intent of communicating some sort of message to some sort of an audience, and whether such an audience likely exists in reality, or, if the photographs were taken to document the activities of public officials on public property. If those requirements are not met, then photography, according to the SCOTUS, is not protected under the first amendment. If they are met, then it is.

  • Miller Smith

    Calling all photographers in the area! Let’s assemble outside of the swimming area with our cameras in full view and make the police arrest everyone of us, put us in jail, make us post bail so that we can have a class action lawsuit. I truly believe the police are that stupid. They are truly that’s stupid. We will have so many rears in our bag they won’t know what to do. They will end up having to slap each other for being so stupid.

  • Bob smith

    Taking pictures of other people’s kids who you don’t even know is creepy and weird. It may not be illegal, but it’s a creepy thing to do.

    • Rory Cornelius

      A lot of people do a lot of things that I don’t understand and think are weird, but are, nonetheless, not illegal. Would it be reasonable for me to offer a cash reward to anyone who could supply me with the personal details of any person I see engaging in any such activity, go to their private residence, admonish them, and demand they destroy their personal property? Laws exist for a reason. If you see someone engaging in activity that isn’t illegal, but you, personally happen to not understand, or find to be inappropriate, you have a right to your opinion and to express it – but, that’s about as far as your rights go regarding the matter.

      • MT

        Interesting that you take offense to comments that a creepy old man taking pictures of KIDS should get a beating but have no qualms for wanting to keep a gun handy for another persons right to voice their opinion.

      • Mike Ross (@eruptionchaser)

        MT, I referred – as you apparently deliberately failed to notice – to keeping a gun handy for people who want to ‘voice their opinion’ by **beating me up**. I think you’ll find that beating people up has never been considered an acceptable form of first amendment expression…

  • Nicole Jones

    I would think that most legit photographers / artists would approach a parent and ask before they just start snapping pictures of their kids in swim suits. What this guy did was creepy…and the fact that he tried to run only proves it. If he was a legit photographer he would have stated that as soon as he was approached by the father. Although legally what he did wasn’t wrong…..doesn’t make it any less strange. Maybe he takes pictures of potential victims…maybe he goes home and pleasures himself to little kids in swimsuits….who knows…..but its weird.

    • Hugh Keller

      And you would be wrong. Permission is neither required nor regularly sought.. The cops are also wrong here and if the victim (Mr Cox) decides to pursue things legally, the city will pay for the cops mistake, my guess would be around $50K after legal fees. Finally there is a fairly militant group of photographers who will be educating the idiot who threatened Cox. That will be fun to watch. Addresses and phone numbers are already out there.

      • Just want to know

        I want to know what all the “militant group of photographers” will do *if* Mr Cox has a bunch of kiddie porn on his computer….will they still go after the guy that started the process of catching him?..

    • Mike Ross (@eruptionchaser)

      Nicole, I’m a pro camerman. You appear to have some misapprehensions.

      Sometimes talking to the subject is right and professional.

      Often it isn’t. Some of the greatest images of the photographic arts are candids, captured without the permission or knowledge of the subject. And, sad to say, these days too many people have funny ideas; they think they have a *right* not to be photographed; to avoid confrontation it’s often better not to ask permission, and instead to shoot discreetly from a distance with a long lens. If I was approached by someone belligerently objecting to photography I might well beat a hasty tactical retreat, exactly as Mr. Cox did.

    • PX4

      To be clear, I cannot speak towards the actions of the man in question. I dont know him and I won’t justify his actions either way. Having said that, a photographer will not get consent from hundreds of people before taking pictures. If, while they are taking pictures, one stands out as useful or particularly striking, they will seek out permission to use the photograph. Most photographers will take thousands of photographs for every one that is marketable. As far as trying to deal with an angry and irate father, do you really think he’s going to listen to rationalization while threatening violence?

      • Davin Gray

        While phones take fairly good pictures, I would hardly call myself a photographer using one.

  • voiceoftruth19

    If i saw someone taking pictures of my wife and daughter I would of broke there fingers and beat there face in between there ears. You do not have a right to take pictures of me or my family, if i catch you doing it either you will get the a** beating of a life time or I will sue the ever living sh*t out of you. I have had several “photographers” take pictures of me in public and every time I have forced them to delete the pictures. Me or my family being in public does not give you the right to take pictures of me or my family.

    • Really?

      Actually it does. It’s been determined that being in public, you have no expectation to privacy (hence the paparazzi). While I don’t agree with Mr. Cox’s actions, they are completly legal. You are stating that you have the right to take the law into your own hands and become the judge, jury, and executioner for any individual taking your picture? And contrary to your last statement, being in public does give anyone the right to take pictures of both you and your family, and if you’ve left the privacy of your house today, chances are it’s alread been done.

    • FREE PHOTOS

      I would like to take your picture. Please tell me a convenient public place for you. Feel free to bring your family and friends.

    • Rory Cornelius

      Right, VOICEOFTRYTH19. Metering out physical violence in retaliation for a perfectly legal action because it’s an action that you don’t personally like is entirely reasonable… but it’s the photographer here who is the messed up danger to society…. sure. YOU’RE the reasonable, level headed, non-threatening, non-dangerous, sane one. Riiiiight.

      And, actually, yes. You, or your family, being in public most certainly does give anyone the right to take pictures of you or your family. That’s the law. The burden is not on the rest of society to restrict their entirely non-damaging activity in order to cater to your delicate sensibilities and irrational fears. If you have a problem with your picture being taken while out in public YOU have a burden to not willingly travel openly in places where you know beforehand that such things might occur, or to move to a private place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, or to cover yourself and your family in something which obscures your identities.

      Try ‘forcing’ me to destroy my legally obtained personal property some time. See how that works out for you.

    • PX4

      I’m a photographer who has on occasion taken pictures in public to round out my portfolio. At fairs, beaches, or the park. I don’t profit from these photos so taking them is perfectly legal. I’m also a legal CHL holder who’s prepared to defend himself if necessary. Not everything or everyone has ulterior motives. Photography is not a crime.

    • Hugh Keller

      Another phony internet tough guy who does not have a clue about the law. Clearly most of us do not believe you in the slightest.

  • Just want to know

    I want to know what all the “militant group of photographers” will do *if* Mr Cox has a bunch of kiddie porn on his computer….will they still go after the guy that started the process of catching him?

    • Hugh Keller

      They will take pictures legally, tell J Allen to go **** himself as they stand outside his house taking pictures, and sue the police department when they step out of line. Its not their first rodeo and local yokels in Galesburg are in for a rude awakening if it happens.

    • Rory Cornelius

      I would assume that they would – while also advocating that Mr. Cox is duly and justly punished within the letter of the law for his illegal actions – and not for his entirely legal ones. Do you have any more apples and oranges you’d care to toss about?

  • Angel

    Okay the ones defending him by calling him a photographer, okay is he still one when he goes home and masturbate to those same pictures? How would you feel if they were your kids he was doing this with. What happened if he was to sharing these pictures with his freak friends that like looking at kids? Are you okay with that? Just because you can go to Bestbuy and get a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. However being weird and taking stranger pictures of kids you don’t know does make you a creep.

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