This is what happened when I was stalked on the internet. The stalker’s name is Rick Klugman. His crime was part of an ongoing campaign of harassment and cyberbullying targeting me, by two of his friends, and now others.
I’m writing a book about it, having amassed a ream of material about cyberbullying after a year and a half. This post is a part of the book, which I summarize further in this post:
I was acquainted with the person who stalked me from the social media site, Quora. I started writing about his threats and harassment as soon as I knew he wasn’t going to leave me alone, in spite of appeals from me to his wife and female friend, in spite of a visit from his police department to issue him a No Contact warning.
“Recognize the situation for what it is: Online harassment. It can also be referred to as cyberbullying, but regardless of the name, know that this is a sign of weakness for the perpetrator. As upsetting as it can be, recognize that it’s extremely important that you DO NOT respond to this person. Engaging with the bully often only makes matters worse. They feed off their victim’s misery and pain.”
That’s easy enough to say now, but I already knew him. I expected that when you tell people to leave you alone, they put on their coat, and walked out the door, leaving you alone. They don’t up the game, send you threatening messages and harass you even more, scoffing at you while you’re telling them to stop or you’ll call the police.
He scoffed and scoffed and continued harassing me; scoffed at the police and the No Contact warning, and kept scoffing until the day a sheriff’s deputy finally caught up with him by phone to deliver the restraining order, awarded by the Las Vegas Justice Court, and then another delivered it into the hands of his employer.
He stopped scoffing right about then, but didn’t stop his behavior. Even after the restraining order was served, I received messages with fake names and emails.
I learned a lot about IP addresses. I did latitude and longitude searches and from those, and from the specific language used, I knew they were from him. A forensic linguist could have figured it out legally, but it wasn’t necessary. A subpoena can always be requested from his phone company and from his employer to prove they came from him. I have no fear I’m wrong.
I don’t believe random people would get involved in criminal stalking, taking up the gauntlet of harassment and threats and using names like ‘Jed Clampett’, ‘The Pastor’s Wife’, and the name of a retired Marine sergeant. I’m fairly sure the Marines wouldn’t be happy about that one. And pastor’s wives everywhere would wonder why they’d ever call someone a ‘narcissist’. Jed Clampett is not the man I thought he was, telling me ‘not to look in a mirror after eating, or I’d throw up’.
No, these weren’t from strangers doing him a favor.
“I’m busy today, dude. Can you harass someone for me from a clump of trees in North Dakota in the middle of nowhere? Yeah, this Tuesday at noon. Thanks, I owe you one.”
He finally seems to have stopped scoffing and harassing me, in real life, if not on Quora, perhaps on the advice of his psychiatrist or his employer. He’s now threatening to sue me for ‘mental anguish’, ‘exacerbation of his bipolar disorder’, and I think a hang nail was mentioned, too.
He rants on Quora about how ‘badly’ he’s been treated, which is the ultimate insult: To break into my house, threaten and harass me, and then go on the offensive when he’s charged with the crime. This is what our country is degenerating into, a nation of whiners, neurotics, and people who feel they’re the victim, even after committing a crime. There’s a complete denial of responsibility. No one is growing up.
My purpose in writing about this is to help children, teens, and adults who might find themselves in this situation, to show them they can take steps to protect themselves, and that what the person is doing is a crime, a crime spelled out very clearly in the statutes of every state in the nation. This week alone two children have committed suicide, both because they were being harassed and bullied.
To give an idea of how little gravity his friends give to his behavior, one of his girl friends remarked that my hubby, Don, shouldn’t be leaving ‘offensive’ comments to this man. He called him a ‘coward’ and a ‘neurotic’. Firstly, he can leave comments anywhere and anytime he likes. That is not subject to their approval.
Secondly, her very attitude is indicative of her beliefs: That this was some kind of brawl over a dinner check or something.
People wear masks, especially on the internet. A lot of people are friendly with this man and support him. They don’t believe me. I tell them that courts don’t hand out protection orders over nothing, but it matters not. I say he threatened, stalked, and harassed me, but he plays the victim, and I’m supposedly the hysterical, ranting woman who blew a couple of emails out of proportion. I have a three inch thick file on him. Measure three inches with your fingers, and then imagine what he might have had to do to engender that much copy.
“Women take online harassment more seriously not because we are hysterics, but because we reasonably have to. There is no gender equivalence in terms of the denigrating, hostile and sometimes exceedingly dangerous environmental effect that misogyny has, online or off.”
He’s lied so much about this, he probably doesn’t know what the truth is. He’s lied about sending back the envelopes from the sheriff scrawled over with hate messages, as if some passerby walking by his trash can pulled the papers out, and took them to the post office for him. He lies about violating the terms of the protection order sending threatening messages under other names. He has no respect for anyone’s intelligence.
I don’t want to sound like I was such a tough guy about all this. I’d never had this kind of experience before, so I didn’t know what was happening until he’d harassed and threatened me via emails, then on my blog.
An attorney friend was a witness to it all from the beginning, and told me what I needed to do to get him to stop. I was frightened, angry, and felt helpless. He kept changing his email addresses and his names, so blocking him did no good.
It’s easy to threaten and harass others from the protection of a computer screen. They’re cowards, and are afraid of people; they do this to feel more powerful. A friend, a former Secret Service agent, told me that when these guys get hauled in, they’re always ‘five feet tall and smell of cheese.’
If as a senior woman, I was able to do all the things I did, and get a protection order, anyone can, and if you feel the need to put a stalker’s name out there, do it. How many men would really want to continue stalking and harassing someone if their name is posted where everyone can see it, their employer, family, friends?
I don’t want to encourage anyone to do this if there’s the slightest doubt the person is innocent. Read very carefully the statutes I copied in this post before you carry through on that step.
If you’re afraid of being sued, remember that it’s been almost a year since I wrote my post about him and a year and a half since I posted her threatening email, and I still haven’t heard from an attorney.
Here is what a person has to do to prove ‘defamation’ or libel. And when it is from one state to another? Almost impossible. I will no more be required to defend myself against a lawsuit in his state, than I’ll be required to move to Mars, which I’m sure he’d like. I refuse, on the basis that I like verdure more than a red desert:
Defenses Against Libel Charges
There are several key defenses one can assert if they are sued for defamation.
Initially, if the statement is true, the speaker cannot be liable for the statement.
Additionally, where statements are from official documents (such as a protection order), records of meetings, the statements cannot be treated as libel. Finally, if the statements are expressions of opinion only, these cannot be the basis for a libel lawsuit.
People may not believe what you’re saying, because people certainly don’t believe me. If law enforcement believes you, and your friends know you to be a rational person with no ax to grind, the hell with the rest of them. It isn’t a scary process; it just takes some persistence. The protection order isn’t a lead shield, but it will set the police in motion faster than if you just call and say this threatening guy showed up at your door.
It is not against the law for anyone to show up at your door, no matter who it is. It IS, however, against the law if you have a protection order against them.
The story-No it isn’t over yet:
A few months had gone by, when a third member of this group, a group I began referring to offsite as The Toxic Trio, and I began talking.
She and I were still friendly, even though she continued to be friendly with the other two. I didn’t care. She mentioned that she made jewelry, and also that she was broke. I have an Etsy store, and I offered to list and sell her things in my store.
She sent me a bag of her beaded jewelry, and I began to separate, photograph, and list it in my store. I’d worked on it for two or three days, when she told me that her friend had decided she wanted to sell her things in a store that she’d create for that purpose. The friend wasn’t interested until I had the things.
At first, I was okay with it, but then I realized there would not be enough inventory to stock two stores, so I told her I was bowing out. I told her I’d send her things back. She disappeared for a few days, and I didn’t know what happened, but found out she’d been in the hospital for a minor injury. I told her I’d send her things back the following week, or perhaps the week after, when I got paid.
This wasn’t satisfactory, so she asked the male portion of the trio to step in. That is when he chose to ‘handle it’ by harassing and threatening me. Never once did he approach me from a perspective of reason or calm, he immediately started off with his threats and nasty messages. I knew he was using her jewelry as an excuse, and shortly after he deactivated his account, leaving the other woman to blame that on me, too. It’s amazing I have any spare time after all I’ve been accused of doing.
This was his opportunity, and he made the most of it. And as far as I know, despite me sending it back within two weeks of her asking for it and having a return certified receipt, they’re still calling me a thief and a liar on a public forum. One person left a comment on my blog telling me to ‘just send the jewelry back to the lady already’. This was a few weeks ago, nine months after she’d received it and I assumed that was the end of the matter.
This man is a commercial truck driver. He’s on meds for being emotionally and mentally disturbed. I know this because he writes about it online. He doesn’t sound stable to me, though he insists he is. I don’t know him from Adam, he’s a grown man, not that many hours away, and he’s sending me threatening, nasty, vulgar emails and comments.
I told him to go away in no uncertain terms more than once after the very first email, and after the second one. My responses just lit him up like a Christmas tree. If he thought he was upsetting me, or making me angry, he got off on that. I didn’t know not to respond to him. My experience is that people leave you alone when you tell them to.
This is the one that led me to call the police. The dispatcher told me to delete his emails. Never, ever delete the emails. Put them in a folder, but do not delete them.
“Have you ever looked up the definition of sociopath or borderline personality disorder? At least I know I’m nuts. So, what’s next?
Me, I plan on being a pain in your ass for a loooong time to come. That’s your reality, not a threat. You see, you’re fucking with a crazy who enjoys making you see yourself for who you really are. Sociopathic with borderline personality disorder.
Until this stops being fun, you and I are going to be very close.”
I couldn’t block him, because he would change his email address every day. From that fact alone, I knew he’d done this before to people. It came too easily to him. The IP address remained the same, which is something else to remember for future reference.
I wrote to his friend and to his wife, whose email I had after she left a comment on my blog. I asked them to intervene before I had to call the police. This lit a fire under him, too:
“Congratulations! Now you’ve on boarded another crazy!” I told him I was going to my husband, and he said, “What’s he gonna do? Beat me up?”
His wife and friend rejected my appeals. His wife told me that it was my fault somehow, that I must have set him off by ‘bragging’ about something. She told me ‘it was my responsibility to get rid of him.’
I kid you not. That’s what she said. She called it a ‘senior pissing contest’. If he violates further the terms of the protection order and goes to jail, I wonder how she’ll excuse him? My takeaway from her attitude, is that he’s done this more than once, to more than one person, most likely for years. He’s gotten away with it too, for years.
When the wife and friend refused to talk to him, I called the emergency dispatch number for his local police. I had spoken to a detective in the Doylestown, PA district attorney’s office and he’d called the man’s local police department, which issued the No Contact order directly to him.
He ignored the No Contact order. He continued to send me threatening messages and stalked me via other sites, and by this time, I had quite a file on him. I had basically given up on the police. I’d written to the chief of police in his town twice, I’d emailed his employer. They did nothing, at least nothing they told me about. Why would you ignore the pleas of a woman asking that you stop an employee from harassing and threatening her?
Serial killers, rapists, all kinds of criminals have families. They have wives and children, and a few friends. One serial killer was a well known and trusted member and deacon in his church. And he killed many people in his town over a thirty year period. Basically, this man’s wife, two internet female friends, his police department, and employer were telling me they don’t believe he’s dangerous. Likewise, the families of serial killers often don’t even know what their fair haired boy is up to nights and weekends.
This guy is a truck driver. He’s gone for several days a month. He has a troubled marriage. He’s a self-described sociopath with borderline personality disorder, and he’s taken meds for years while driving. He’s said all of this online, and he sent me an email telling me he’s mentally disturbed. But I’m supposed to take it on faith that he won’t follow through on his threats.
On the day he made a direct threat to me, I filed a police report. Even if my local police couldn’t do much, I had the report for court.
I filed a report with the FBI; filed with the PA Department of Transportation; and filed a report with the Pennsylvania State Police. I’ve also re-filed a complaint with them to make sure they know an Extended Protection Order had been filed and awarded against him.
On the advice of an attorney, I filed for the protection order in the Clark County Justice Court. They were leery about it because he lives out of state. If this happens to you, and your stalker is out of state, insist a report gets filed anyway.
Here’s the legal description of the laws he broke according to the Nevada Revised Statutes:
- a) Willfully or maliciously engages in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed, or fearful for the immediate safety of a household member, and
- b) Actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or fearful for the immediate safety of a household member.
I had a hearing for the TPO, the temporary protection order, to which he had to be served with papers so he could show up and plead his case. He didn’t fly out to Vegas for the hearing.
Don’t pay for a process server. Go with the sheriff. I did both. Neither one could serve him by putting papers in his hand. The hearings proceeded anyway.
He managed to evade service for months. I had to persevere. I went back to court, had to rewrite and refile the appeal, get him served for a new hearing, which he managed to evade also, and then go back for another hearing.
The second time, the judge granted an Extended Protection Order. Judges do not grant these lightly, but if the threat is real to you, the threat is real. Simple as that. These protection orders go into a national data base.
Because the man never answered his door, and was either working or hiding from the sheriff, I sent the protection order service to the sheriff that serves the county where his employer is located. The sheriff’s department often tries until they find the perpetrator. Since this man is often away from home, and lives in another city other than where he works, they left the papers with his employer, which is an acceptable form of service in his state.
If he should violate the protection order by getting in touch with me in any way, I would go to court to ask for a warrant sworn out for his arrest.
If he’s picked up for this warrant, which is nationwide, he would be arrested, brought out here, and thrown in jail. When he posts bail, he has to find his own way home. His truck will have been impounded and would cost a few thousand dollars to retrieve. Is it really worth it to harass and stalk someone over such a thing? Would not contacting me like a real person, asking me to send it back, or finding out if there was another reason for it not being sent back, be better?
I’ve included the specific laws he broke, and why you shouldn’t feel intimidated by police or the courts when filing a complaint against a stalker.
Stalking and harassment via intrastate email:
“Intrastate e-mails that are threatening are prohibited under the laws of the state where they occur. For example, if I lived in Alabama and sent my next door neighbor an e-mail threatening to break his knees if he didn’t take down his purple fence today, I could be arrested by the local police. The jail term varies from state to state.
However. If the e-mails are sent interstate, the FBI gets involved. For example, if I live in Alabama and sent a threatening e-mail to someone in Nevada, it would be a violation of 18 U. S. Code 875(c), and carry a fine of $10,000; imprisonment of 5 years; or both. The FBI would be the arresting agency. And trial would be in Federal Court in Nevada”. Email from an attorney
Interestingly, most Federal Appeal Courts have ruled that mens rea does not apply. In other words, intent to actually carry out the threat is of no moment.The mere threat is sufficient.
(Don’t ignore or delete messages of those kinds, or assume they’re innocent of harm.)
And if the threatening behavior transpired over the web, text-messaging or a similar service, the harassment may be charged as a category C felony in Las Vegas, which mandates:
1 to 5 years imprisonment, and
Maybe a $10,000 fine
Protective Orders; (NRS 200.591)
In many Nevada harassment cases, a judge will also impose either a temporary protective order (TPO) or an extended protective order requiring the suspect to keep away from the “victim” for a predetermined period of time. Deliberately violating one of these orders can carry harsher penalties than the harassment itself:
It’s a gross misdemeanor to intentionally defy a temporary order in Nevada. The punishment includes:
Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
Up to a $2,000 fine
And it’s a category C felony to intentionally break an extended order in Nevada. The punishment includes:
1 to 5 years imprisonment, and
Maybe a $10,000 fine
Most victims know that protective orders and criminal prosecutions are the first line of defense against stalkers. Yet victims have an additional option for bringing stalkers to justice: They can file civil lawsuits against stalkers and third parties who contribute to the crime. Through civil lawsuits, victims may gain financial compensation and the means to hold stalkers liable for their crime.
“Sure, it’s easy to make a joke about toothless reports written by bureaucrats and move on. But it’s worth keeping in mind the broader context: There’s an entire internet subculture devoted to “debunking” stories of women facing harassment and death threats. There are many people who believe, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that gendered online harassment isn’t really a problem at all, who don’t understand the ways in which women are unfairly forced to put more on the line than men when they express opinions online. Just Google Quinn or Sarkeesian — a handful of obsessives have put a startling amount of time into “proving” that they’re “professional victims” who are really just in this for the attention, that they’re fakers and scam artists.”