PORT TOWNSEND — A transient man charged with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation is being held in jail on $100,000 bond.
Brian Judah Michalek, 56, is charged with allegedly touching a teenage girl inappropriately at the Boiler Room in Port Townsend, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty to the gross misdemeanor charge in Jefferson County District Court on Tuesday and has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for July 11.
Several Port Townsend residents had called police in the days before the alleged incident to complain that Michalek was acting strangely, police said. They told police he was watching and photographing children, police said. Facebook posts showed his photograph and said he was approaching children.
It is not a crime to take pictures of people in public spaces. The arresting officer wrote in the report that Michalek’s actions — including taking photos of children — show he was acting with sexual motivation.
City Prosecutor Chris Ashcraft said he had asked for $50,000 bond, but District Court Judge Jill Landes doubled his request, citing concerns of public safety.
“I think it was a good decision on her part,” Ashcraft said. “Based on his history, I didn’t think he would post the $50,000.”
Ashcraft said Landes added more conditions of release than what he had asked for.
Landes ordered Michalek not to go within 500 feet of areas where children are present, not to take photos of people in public places and not to own or possess any type of digital camera, including tablets and cell phones.
Teenage girls told police that Michalek had gone to the Boiler Room, 711 Water Street, on May 30 and 31 and was trying to sneak pictures of them and that he allegedly touched one of the girls on her buttocks, according to a police report.
Michalek told police he did not intentionally touch anyone, but may have accidentally brushed past the teen.
The girl told police that there was plenty of room for Michalek to walk around her without touching her. She said the incident left her scared and shaking.
A volunteer manager who told police he saw Michalek watching the girls asked him to leave the business. The volunteer manager reported the incident June 4 as Michalek was sitting across the street at a bus stop.
Police confirmed that Michalek had posted photos of young girls around town on his Facebook page. When police approached Michalek on Monday he allowed officers to look through his tablet. Officers saw a handful of photos of one of the girls at the Boiler Room.
Michalek initially stated that his name was “Brian Watson,” but an Arkansas ID in his wallet indicated otherwise, police said.
Police said they are considering recommending another charge for providing a false statement to law enforcement.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.