By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“Scaring the hell out of people is not, as far as I can determine, a crime,” he said.
Brothers Jason and Jeremy Holden, both of whom graduated from Port Angeles High School, sparked a national controversy and scared many at the park last Saturday when they plucked a 3- or 4-year-old boy from a bench in the park while wearing ski masks and sped off with the boy in a van while angered parents at the park chased after them.
“I was worried about that,” Jason Holden said about the charges in a phone interview this afternoon.
Holden said they staged and filmed the kidnapping to bring awareness of the dangers of child abduction.
“We thought we were making a movie as this positive [thing,] but we didn't think we were going to scare people like that. We didn't even think we would be doing anything that might have broken any laws,” he said.
Holden said after seeing the fear of the people at the park, he immediately had a “bad taste in my mouth from the thing.”
“Especially scaring kids like that. We weren't happy about that at all,” he said.
Charges also will not be filed against the child's mother, who allegedly allowed the fake abduction, and a third brother who might have participated, Ritchie said.
The 24-year-old Holden twins apologized on national television this morning.
City law officials investigated whether the incident would be cause to bring criminal charges against the Holden brothers for dangerous conduct or failing to obtain a temporary permit to fake the abduction in the park.
Ritchie said today that city codes don't require permits for filming and that the dangerous conduct charge would be tough to pursue since nobody was hurt.
“It's not something I'd want to take to a jury,” Ritchie said.
He compared the ersatz kidnapping to Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.”
“There were disclaimers throughout that show, and it still scared half the country,” Ritchie said.
He likely will ask the City Council to revise its codes to require permits of people who use city property for filming.
“Then if we don't prevent something like this in the future, at least we would have something to charge,” he said.
The Sequim Police Department did receive a call a few minutes before the fake kidnapping occurred to warn officers it would be taking place.
The two Holden brothers apologized for the incident to a national audience this morning on NBC's “Today” show.
“We didn't really think about what we were doing, and we didn't really think about the kids that we were endangering,” they said on the show.
They also apologized to those frightened by the incident in the comment section beneath the “Child Abduction Prevention and Awareness Video” posted on their TwinzTV YouTube channel.
The Holden brothers live in Tacoma, where they own a pawn shop.
They were on the peninsula, where they grew up, diving for geoducks when they decided to film the video at the park, Jason Holden said.
They are looking into starting a fund for missing children's charities as an act of reparation.
“They did a dumb thing and risked a whole slate of unnecessary problems, and I would hate to encourage this behavior as an awareness-raising technique,” Ritchie said.
“But they did show that child abduction scares the hell out of people.”
A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002 reported that, of the 797,500 children reported missing in a one-year period, 203,900 were abducted by family members, 58,200 were abducted by non-relatives, and 115 were classified as being taken by a stranger.
That is the most recent comprehensive study on missing children, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The State Patrol has 59 children listed on its missing children list on the website at www.wsp.wa.gov.
Those who think they have seen a missing child can call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children hotline at 800-843-5678.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.