, Salem, MA

June 12, 2013

Man gets probation for vulgar talk


---- — DANVERS — A taekwondo instructor from Beverly has admitted to charges that he yelled vulgarities from behind the wheel of his SUV at two teenage girls he saw walking in downtown Danvers last year, acts a judge called “jerky.”

John Whalen, 30, of 29 Friend St., Beverly, will spend two years on supervised probation after admitting to sufficient facts for a conviction on two counts of annoying or accosting a person of the opposite sex, a Salem District Court judge ordered yesterday.

On the afternoon of May 28, 2012, two girls, both 16, were walking in the area of Peabody Avenue and Holten Street in Danvers when they heard a man yelling, “I like young (expletive),” and other vulgar phrases.

One of the girls told her father, gave him a description of the vehicle and a license plate number, then pointed out the SUV stopped at an intersection.

The girls also said the same man had yelled vulgarities toward them a month earlier.

Police, who had a car equipped with a license plate reader in the area at the time of the earlier encounter, were able to confirm that Whalen’s vehicle was in the area the girls described.

When they contacted Whalen, he initially denied saying anything to the girls, suggesting it was someone on the radio making the comments. He eventually confessed, however.

His lawyer, Paul Woods Jr., told the judge that after the incident, the police contacted the Beverly taekwondo school where he worked at the time and found no complaints of inappropriate behavior or any complaints from other women.

Woods noted that the only other item on Whalen’s record is a drunken-driving case.

That led Judge Robert Brennan to ask whether Whalen had been drinking at the time of the incidents. Whalen said he had not.

“Were you aware of how old these girls were?” asked the judge. Woods said his client was not.

The judge also asked why he made the remarks.

“What was I thinking?” Whalen responded. “I think I was in a poor mood, reflecting my attitude at the time.”

Brennan concluded that while the comments were of a sexually explicit nature, Whalen’s behavior “was less sexual behavior and more jerky behavior.” Brennan continued the case without a finding for two years.

If Whalen completes the two-year probation period and fulfills all of the conditions set by the judge, including a mental health evaluation and treatment, the charges will be dismissed.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.