Here is an important update in the story of Patrick McLaw, the Maryland teacher who was the subject of a very strange investigation last week. Local reporting claimed that McLaw was suspended from his job and forced to undergo a mental evaluation, all because he wrote novels about a fictional mass shooting set 900 years in the future.
That report left out key details, according to a source who is knowledgeable about the situation. McLaw's novels were not the initial or prime factor that led to his suspension. Rather, McLaw submitted a letter to officials at the Dorchester County school district where he worked that raised concerns about his mental health. Wicomico County health department personnel then stepped in.
Officials have several other concerns about McLaw, apart from his letter. He was formerly accused of harassment, and may face charges for a separate allegation of wrongdoing. Privacy laws are keeping everyone vague about the details, since nothing is official yet.
The Los Angeles Times corroborates:
Concerns about McLaw were raised after he sent a four-page letter to officials in Dorchester County. Those concerns brought together authorities from multiple jurisdictions, including health authorities.
McLaw's attorney, David Moore, tells The Times that his client was taken in for a mental health evaluation. "He is receiving treatment," Moore said.
Because of HIPPA regulations mandating privacy around healthcare issues, he was unable to say whether McLaw has been released.
McLaw's letter was of primary concern to healthcare officials, [Wiccomico County Attorney Matt] Maciarello says. It, combined with complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime from various jurisdictions led to his suspension. Maciarello cautions that these allegations are still being investigated; authorities, he says, "proceeded with great restraint."
I spoke with Maciarello as well, and he told me that McLaw isn't charged with a crime right now and he's not under arrest.
"There were many circumstances that led law enforcement to come together wholly unrelated to the books," said Maciarello. "He was not under the radar initially because he wrote books."
Again, the specifics are being kept out of the media for now. But based on what I've learned, it looks like this local reporter—who identified McLaw's books as the reason for his arrest—jumped the gun, not the police.
Expect to hear more as the details become public.