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November 23, 1999 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-23

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16 The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, Nove

ember 23, 1999
"I had once told him in passing how much / loved traveling and how I would like to go to
Paris one day. After I switched out of the class, he came to my discussion section one day
and put (plane tickets to Paris) with a passport on my desk. / was so scared and didn't
even know what to say,"
- "Candice"
Stalking victim


T he d: De X IM -o
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"The setup of being on a college campus - living
in a smaller community and having a set route - it
makes (stalking) easier," said Director of the Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center Virginia
SAPAC statistics show that stalking in Ann Arbor has
increased from last year's total of 28 to 29 incidents
reported as of this month.
Case Study
"Candice," an LSA junior who wished to remain
anonymous because she is concerned for her safety, had
first-hand experience with this growing problem.
Candice said a classmate, who became a study partner
for her sophomore year religion class, soon became a
incessant, persistent stalker.
"He seemed very nice and intelligent in the begin-
ning," Candice recalled. But then, the fifth-year
senior allegedly began pursuing Candice constantly,
despite her blunt statements about having a
After several months and literally hundreds of tele-
phone calls and e-mails, Candice said she had no other
choice but to drop the class two months into the semes-
"I was getting an 'A' in that class and really liked it.
But I thought if he left and I stayed, all his friends in that
class would give me a hard time. So I just decided to
leave instead," Candice explained.
But dropping the vlass did not dissuade the male stu-
dent, she said.
"I had once told him in passing how much I loved trav-
eling and how I would like to go to Paris one day. After I
switched out of the class, he came to my discussion sec-
tion one day and put (plane tickets to Paris) with a
passport on my desk. I was so scared and didn't
even know what to say," she said.
When Candice refused to speak to her
pursuer, she said he turned violent and
started yelling at her, stating she was
ungrateful after he had gone to much
trouble to get tickets.
With the support of friends and
family, Candice sought professional
help in the matter and obtained a
restraining order.
How to cope _
Cases like Candice's are not
"From time to time we have stalkers
Reported Cases:
In 1998, Sexual Assault
Awareness and Prevention
Center had 28 reported cases
of stalking.
As of October 1999, SAPAC
has 29 cases of stalking have
been reported to SAPAC.

that we deal with," said Department of Public Safety Det.
Wesley Skowron.
Under Michigan law, stalking is defined as "a will-
ful course of conduct involving repeated or continu-
ing harassment of another individual that would
cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, fright-
ened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested,
and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized,
harassed, frightened, intimidated, threatened,
harassed or molested."
Skowron explained the process legal enforcement
agencies follow when dealing with a stalker.
"A victim must warn (the stalker) once before making
a charge," Skowron said, noting that in about 50 to 60
percent of cases of stalking some legal action, including
obtaining a warrant, is necessary.
Chitanda said the cases are often tough to deal with
because of "the standard of proof and evidence required
to prove the events." Evidence includes records of con-
tact, letters, answering machine tapes and unused gifts.
DPS statistics show an increase in the number of
reported stalking cases on campus between 1997
and 1999. Twenty-one cases were reported in both
1997 and 1998 and as of last month 23 stalking inci-
dents were reported to DPS in 1999.
The alleged stalker's identity is crucial to enforcing
the law, Chitanda said. Most often, the police can't
prosecute in cases unless the alleged stalker's identi-
ty is known.
Diane Alexander, director of library and field ser-
vices at the National Center for Victims of Crime in
Arlington, Va., said there is a direct connection
between domestic violence and stalking in many of
the cases she handles.
NCVA provides legal advice and referrals to
local institutions for men and women who have
been victims of crimes including stalking and relat-
ed abuse.
Stalking on Campus
"One of the options we offer is at the University you
can make a formal report under the judicial system or
student code," Chitanda said, referring to the Code of
Student Conduct, the University's internal disciplinary
"The second option is to start collecting evidence - a
log of all contacts with the stalker," she said. "An option
is always to call the police" either the Ann Arbor Police
Department or DPS.
"A personal protection order can come from a circuit
court judge can be issued to prevent a stalker" from mak-
ing contact with the victim, she said.
Conviction for aggravated stalking has a maximum
penalty of five years in prison and up to S10,000 in fines.
Chitanda said that stalking is detrimental because it

instills a "fear of conducting normal business everyday"
it its victims.
The Code also has a provision against "hazing, stalk-
ing or harassing another person."
The University's Office of Student Conflict Resolution
oversees the Code process and handles the cases of stu-
dents, faculty members and parents in stalking-related
In the past three years, OSCR has handled 18
reports of stalking, where 18 University community
members, including Graduate Student Instructors
and faculty, were accused of stalking. OSCR offi-
cially investigated 10 of the cases, and at least three
of the victims were male.
SAPAC and other domestic violence organiza-
tions are available for student aid in situations
similar to Candice's.
SAPAC officials suggest taking precau-
tions such as not walking alone, changing
a telephone number, varying the times
and routes taken to frequently visited
places, notifying family, friends and
employers for round-the-clock protec-
tion against suspected stalkers.
The harsh reality
The U.S. Department. of Justice
completed a report in July 1998 on the
relationship between stalking and
domestic violence in the United States.

- Photo Illustration by Jeremy Menchik
The study included the National Violence Against
Women Survey that surveyed men and women.
DOJ estimates show that stalkers are violent
toward their victims between 25 and 35 percent of
the time, and the group most likely to be violent is
composed of those who have had an intimate rela-
tionship with the victim. Intimate relationships are
defined as those that exist between married or
divorced couples, couples that live together or have
had sexual relations.
Nearly one-third of all women killed in the United
States die at the hands of someone they know. Although
no national figures are. available, it is estimated that
between 29 and 54 percent of female murder victims are
battered women, and a significant number of these mur-
ders and attempted murders of women are preceded by
Furthermore, stalkers who have had an intimate rela-
tionship with their victims are more likely to experience
prolonged obsession.
Stalkers primarily target female victims the NVWA
survey states.
The survey identified 78 percent of the stalking
victims as women and 22 percent as men. Overall,
$7 percent of the identified stalkers were male.
Young adults are more likely. to be involved in stalk-
ing situations, according to the study. Fifty-two percent
of the stalking victims were 18 to 29 years old and 22
percent were 30 to 39 years old when the stalking

LEFT: "Candice," an LSA junior, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity, re-reads a letter from her stalker.

What Is stalking? -
Michigan law states continued harass-
ment that causes a reasonable feeling -of
terror, fright, intimidation, threat or
molestation inducing the same feelings,
is considered stalking.

Sanctions for stalkers
In 32 -states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, a first
conviction for stalking can be a felony. In 16 of those
areas felony charges -are reserved for specific types of
stalking, where bodily injury, weapon use or carrying or
where;the stalking constitutes a violation of a protec-
tive order. In Michigan, a first-time offense can be
prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor.
U.S. Department ofiJustice, JuN 1998


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