Sunday, September 3, 2006

High-Tech Stalking

Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur profiles Sherri Peak, a stalking victim who wants to publicize her experience. The Seattle Times: Nicole Brodeur: Stalking victim uncovers dark use of technology.

The woman "couldn't get people to believe that she was seeing her estranged husband behind her on the road, in parking lots." Finally a Bellevue police detective inspected the vehicle thoroughly and found two devices behind the dashboard cover: a GPS that told the stalker where the car was, and a cell phone that enabled him to listen in to conversations inside the car.

Should this be publicized? What if it gives stalkers ideas? Peak believes that others are probably already using the technique, so it's better to publicize it. That makes sense.

Here are some scary numbers:

More than a million women and 370,000 men are stalked annually in the U.S., according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. Some 80 percent of cases involve women stalked by ex-boyfriends and former husbands.

More than half of female murder victims had reported stalking to police before being killed by their stalkers, according to the center.
The National Center for Victims of Crime's website is here, and its Stalking Resource Center is here.

Robert Peak, the estranged husband, pleaded guilty to felony stalking (RCW 9A.46.110) on August 14. Because of credit for time served, he will be out in a few months.

Thanks to Mary Hotchkiss for the lead.

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Jan Dyer said...

I am the attorney for Sherri Peak. You are right that these types of situations are very very dangerous but keeping quite about the situation only makes it more dangerous. Protection Orders have only limited effectiveness and the courts offer little in the way of real protection. About our only way of protecting ourselves in a situation like this is to tell everyone you can and go public if possible. More speech is generally better than less and that holds true in the DV community as well. Most abusers are also bullies and very often will fade when someone finally stands up to them. We did worry about copy cat abusers getting bright ideas from the information provided but frankly we felt the message was much more important.

Sherri Peak said...

Hello, this is Sherri Peak, the victim. Debating whether or not to go public about this story was tough. But ultimately, I made the decision based on community safety and promoting awareness to the dangers of technology in the wrong hands. We deserve to know how our technology tools are being abused. We need to know so that we can protect ourselves. Education, awareness and prevention is worth a pound of cure. While technology almost helped a predator take my life, it also helped convict him. The technology provided evidence that was so overwhelming, so damning that the defendant entered a plea of guilty. This is powerful. Stalking is a terrible crime that leaves victims feeling helpless, isolated and fearful. Most importantly, stalking is statically proven to be a prelude to more serious crimes. Technology will advance a stalkers motivation. Please remember, you are 100% responsible to protect yourself. Trust your gut. Stay vigilant and aware. Technology crimes can happen to anyone. Peace, Sherri Peak