Prank turns into arrest for 'cave man' TV idea backfires when mall objects

December 16, 1992|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Don't try this in a mall. Frank Jones did, and was arrested, handcuffed and fingerprinted before you could sing two choruses of "Jingle Bells."

On Dec. 1, Mr. Jones went to Golden Ring Mall dressed in his cave man outfit, which consisted of a leopard-skin bikini, a cape, and a bone in his hair. His aim was to sit on Santa Claus' knee while his fiancee videotaped the scene, which he intended to submit to "America's Funniest Home Videos," an ABC-TV program that appears on Sunday nights.

The mall management didn't think a bogus cave man and a fake Santa were a good mix for the customers.

"I approached Santa and was going to get my picture taken with him. But mall security showed up, and then the police," said Mr. Jones, 43. "I was told I was trespassing and to leave or get arrested. Four policemen escorted me to the door."

Unabashed, he went to the library and researched the trespass laws. He also read the U.S. Constitution and determined he was within his rights to don his cave man suit and sit on Santa's knee in a mall. Back he went, on Dec. 10.

Again he approached Santa, and again security showed up. Security officer Pat Brant asked Santa to take a break, and told Mr. Jones he was "scaring people" because of his attire. He was asked to leave, but refused, claiming First Amendment rights.

Cpl. Jack Markert of the Baltimore County police department then arrived and asked Mr. Jones if he was going to leave. When Mr. Jones said 'no,' Corporal Markert arrested him and took him to the nearby White Marsh precinct, where he was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

"They never even read me my rights or searched me," complained Mr. Jones, a fire equipment inspector for Bethlehem Steel. "Then they took my mug shot with the bone in my hair."

Thus abashed, Mr. Jones was released on his own recognizance. His trial is scheduled for April 8.

"Actually, the police were pretty nice after I told them what I was up to," Mr. Jones said. "It broke them up."

Security officer Brant said that even though Mr. Jones did not resist, he created a scene and scared children away from Santa Claus.

"What would you do if you were a mother and a cave man gets in line?" Ms. Brant asked.

Mall manager Cathie Bryant said Mr. Jones was indecently dressed.

"We have signs all around that say you have to be properly attired," she said.

"That includes a shirt. Mr. Jones wasn't wearing a shirt, he was wearing a cape, which was open, revealing his chest.

"Also, his rear was hanging out," she said.

Santa was unavailable for comment.

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