A bumbling, hooded commando calling himself the "Phantom
Patriot" invaded the fabled grounds of the Bohemian Grove
during the weekend hoping for a shootout.
What he got was a good night's sleep in a cot reserved for
one of the club's captains of industry and a date with a
Richard McCaslin, 37, of Carson City, Nev., pleaded not
guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court yesterday to five
felony counts including arson, burglary and brandishing a
weapon at a peace officer after he allegedly sneaked into the
exclusive Russian River encampment carrying an arsenal of
He told The Chronicle during a jailhouse interview that he
went to the Monte Rio retreat Saturday night intent on
exposing child abuse and human sacrifice and punishing the
"I was expecting armed resistance and I would have fired
back if I was fired upon," he said.
The bizarre episode is the latest brouhaha involving San
Francisco's Bohemian Club, which for years has provided fodder
for conspiracy theorists and been attacked by women's groups.
Club representatives insist that the nonprofit organization
-- founded in 1872 by five newspapermen, a Shakespearean
actor, a vintner and a local merchant -- is dedicated to the
simple enjoyment of music, literature and drama.
"We're very concerned and disturbed by the fact that this
individual would trespass on our property armed as he was with
the intent of doing harm," said Matt Oggero, general manager
of the Bohemian Club. "His allegations . . . are totally
irresponsible, highly offensive and grossly false."
But the well-spoken and seemingly lucid McCaslin is
convinced that there are hidden torture chambers and other
horrors at the club. He told how he was inspired by Austin,
Texas, radio personality Alex Jones. Jones says he has seen
"bizarre, Luciferian ceremonies" at the idyllic 2,000-acre
redwood grove during the club's annual two-week summer
encampment, which draws U.S. presidents and other luminaries.
Jones' Web site has dark, spooky-looking but completely
indistinct pictures of the club's "Cremation of Care
Horrified by the images, McCaslin said he spent a year
collecting weapons, staking out the grove and planning the
"I was acting on reports that inside the Bohemian Club were
incidents of child abuse and human sacrifice," McCaslin said.
"I felt if physical damage was inflicted upon them and it got
enough attention, the American people would rise up."
McCaslin was wearing a bulletproof vest, blue fatigues with
"Phantom Patriot" spelled out in red letters across the chest
and a rubber skeleton mask when he crept into the grove.
He quickly found himself hopelessly lost and bouncing off
the trees in the pitch dark after his flashlight went out.
Feeling "almost silly," he said he felt his way into a cabin,
flopped down on a cot and went to sleep.
The next morning, McCaslin said, he discovered the club's
giant owl "idol" and would have blown it up if he had
explosives. Instead he placed an Old Testament verse from
Leviticus at the base of the statue. Alone, with no enemy or
anybody else in sight, McCaslin decided to set fire to the
camp's mess hall,
but sprinklers extinguished the flames.
He was soon confronted by Sonoma County sheriff's deputies.
He said he was expecting resistance but gave up quietly when
he realized the deputies were "legitimate officers of the
Sheriff's Lt. Bruce Rochester said that besides the
outlandish costume, McCaslin was armed with a double-barreled
shotgun/assault rifle hybrid, a 2- foot-long sword, a
.45-caliber pistol, a crossbow, a knife and a hand-made bomb
"We've had protesters and stuff at the Bohemian Grove, but
I've been here 24 years and I've never seen -- and I don't
think any of us will ever again see -- a guy come here dressed
like that in our careers," Rochester said. "Nobody's laughing.
The deputies were scared and we're all still scratching our
McCaslin is being held on $500,000 bail in the Sonoma
County Jail mental health ward and is being evaluated by
psychologists. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Feb. 5.
E-mail Peter Fimrite at firstname.lastname@example.org.