A Sequim man charged in the Net Nanny child-sex sting must serve 60 days in jail on an unrelated March 22 road-rage incident during which he brandished a handgun at a couple, a District Court judge decided last week.
On May 25, Judge Pro-tem Larry Freedman sentenced Clinton Caldwell, 67, to the maximum 364 days for unlawful display of a weapon, suspending 304 days and ordering Caldwell to begin serving his sentence July 11.
Caldwell said his actions were justified.
Caldwell immediately filed notice that he is appealing the guilty conviction, which a six-person jury rendered May 16 after hearing his and the couple’s testimony.
Caldwell told Freedman on May 25 that a status hearing on two charges of attempted child rape scheduled for last Thursday was delayed to await his sentencing.
That hearing has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. May 31 in Clallam County Superior Court.
A trial has been set for June 25 on the child-sex charges against Caldwell, who was among a dozen suspected child predators arrested in late March in Jefferson County.
The March 22 confrontation between Caldwell and a married couple who passed him on U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles occurred four days before Caldwell was arrested on the felony charges.
The couple said Caldwell made an obscene gesture as they passed him, which they said they returned, before he followed them.
They saiid when they stopped, he stopped behind them, and while sitting in his truck raised a handgun — without pointing it at them — as they approached his vehicle.
Caldwell said the couple made the obscene gesture first.
He said he followed them to get their license plate, claiming he raised his gun when he thought he saw the husband put a gun in his back pocket while walking toward him.
Caldwell drove away after the man’s wife started taking cell phone photos of Caldwell’s license plate, which led to Caldwell’s arrest without incident.
“I firmly believe I was acting in self-defense,” Caldwell told Freedman.
At the same time, he said that on reflection, he shouldn’t have followed the couple.
“After all this, yeah, I wished I would have just kept on going, but I’m an old man, and I was raised a certain way.
“The guy almost caused me to wreck my car, and I felt somebody should know about it, whether anything could be done about it or not, I don’t know.”
To find Caldwell guilty, the jury had to decide that Caldwell did not act in self-defense when he raised his gun.
“They had to explicitly consider that,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Snipe said.
Snipe recommended that Caldwell should be sentenced to 180 days in jail.
Whether Caldwell’s gun was loaded or not did not matter, Snipe said.
“The effect was the same.”
Port Angeles attorney Stephanie Hyatt, representing Caldwell, said Caldwell does not have a violent criminal history and has a physical ailment that would make it difficult for him to serve time in jail.
She said he should receive a deferred sentence or be sentenced to community service.
Freedman said Caldwell’s account of what happened when the couple’s vehicle passed Caldwell’s truck was credible, “but you created the situation that could have ended up with people getting killed.”
Caldwell was the aggressor, Freedman said.
When the husband confronted Caldwell,” you were not in a threatened position at that point,” Freedman said.
He said situations such as those that occurred March 22 can escalate if a person brandishing a weapon — Freedman used himself as an example — confronts someone with a concealed carry permit.
“People with guns have a great responsibility,” Freedman said.
“The problem with brandishiing is that it can go so far beyond that by the circumstances created at the time.”
Caldwell told Freedman that he takes lorazapam, an anti-anxiety medication that he said he cannot obtain in jail.
He receives $750 a month from the Social Security disability program and receives food stamps, according to court records.
Caldwell, who owns his $163,000 residence, according to county records, has posted $100,000 bail on the attempted child-rape charges and $50,000 bail on a felony harassment charge, which alleges he threatened to harm a family member he blamed for his Net Nanny arrest.
Paul Gottlieb is a Senior Staff Writer with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.