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$10 Million Lawsuit Against The Waterford School for Failure to Protect Female Student With Disabilities Raped by Male Classmate

Febrache Law with Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, filed a lawsuit for Tabitha Bell against The Waterford School. Tabitha was subjected to bullying, shunning by other students, consistent mistreatment by faculty and ignoring a traumatic rape by a male classmate. The male a student, a member of the lacrosse team has a known history of sexual harassment and physical violence.

Tabitha has the rare Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) form of Muscular Dystrophy. Her balance is affected, limiting her mobility and general physical functioning. Ms. Bell is an exceptional student, graduating from the $25,000 a year Waterford School to attend University of California Berkeley. The trauma of her five years at Waterford she’s suffered haunts her.

“Although the school promised this young girl and her family its campus would be a haven where she could safely learn while receiving appropriate support and resources, Tabitha’s five-year tenure there was consistently traumatic and damaging, Waterford’s conduct can never be reversed and the detrimental effects it has had on Tabitha will likely impact her adversely for the rest of her life,”

Deborah K. Marcuse with Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Baltimore office.

In December 2015, Tabitha was knocked to the floor by a visibly drunk student at the school’s winter dance at which security staff was promised but not provided. As a result of the school’s lack of adequate supervision, Tabitha suffered a concussion, developed complications resulting in eight days of hospitalization. After the dance Tabitha was bullied mercilessly by peers, causing damaging social isolation. In one egregious instance, two boys simulated Tabitha’s rape on stage in front of the entire school. Rather than adequately punish the boys, the school singled them out for an end-of-year award and inducted them into the Cum Laude Honor Society, the school’s highest honor. Although her family made efforts to communicate their concerns to Waterford, the school took no action to address or stop other students’ harmful ostracizing behaviors targeting Tabitha.   

According to the complaint, these examples are not isolated incidents: throughout her time as a student, Waterford was unwilling to take the precautions necessary to ensure her safety and ensure that she had full access to school events and activities. In one of the most appalling examples of the school’s indifference to her disability, Tabitha had to rely on other students to carry her up and down the stage stairs at the school’s choir performances. The choir director regularly refused to allow her to use the handicap accessible entrance or use her support dog on stage because it “ruined the look” of the choir.

In November 2017, Tabitha was subjected to even more egregious and physically and emotionally damaging behavior when a male lacrosse player at Waterford, one of her few friends raped her at her home. When she told her parents about the sexual assault, they called the police and Tabitha cooperated in a police investigation.  She and her parents subsequently learned the rapist had a history of aggressive, sexually inappropriate behavior – including previously threatening another female student at Waterford with sexual violence. The school was aware of the student’s violent past, but did nothing to warn Tabitha or her parents.

When her parents informed Waterford about Tabitha’s rape, Waterford did nothing to safeguard Tabitha from her rapist, requiring her parents to secure a protective order to prevent the rapist from contacting her on campus.  In the wake of Tabitha’s report of the rape, students and faculty at the school escalated their bullying and school administrators directed other students not to speak to her and allowed her rapist, who had already graduated, access to the school campus despite the protective order.

“Because Waterford does not accept federal funds, which would subject it to the requirements of Title IX and the Americans With Disabilities Act, it seems to believe it can shirk its responsibilities to its students. However, under Utah state law, common law and the school’s own policies, Waterford must be held accountable for protecting its students. The school completely ignored these responsibilities.”

Christine Dunn, senior litigation counsel Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP

The complaint alleges Waterford is liable for negligence and breach of its duty of care; premises liability; negligent supervision of its faculty and students; invasion of Tabitha’s privacy by making a public disclosure of the facts of Tabitha’s rape to her entire senior class and much of the faculty; negligent infliction of emotional distress; fraud; violation of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act and negligent misrepresentation of the school’s ability to safeguard Tabitha’s physical, emotional, and social health and wellbeing. 

“The Bells incurred some $125,000 in tuition costs alone so their daughter could receive a high-quality secondary education. Instead, Tabitha was subjected to years of constant emotional and physical stress and unimaginable trauma.”

Greg Ferbrache

The suit seeks $10 Million in compensatory, as well as punitive damages, along with legal costs and other relief the court may deem just and proper.  A jury trial is requested.

Extreme Stalker Terrorizes Utah Family

               The Gilmore family in a quiet suburb in North Salt Lake City became prisoners in their own homes. It began in August 2018, a tow truck driver arrived to tow Walt Gilmore’s car out of the driveway. From 2018 until August 2019, over 500 unwanted service providers, came to the Gilmore’s house, summoned by an extreme cyber stalker in Hawaii.

               Attorney Greg Ferbrache successfully sought a Permanent Stalking Injunction to protect the Gilmore Family. “The practical benefit of the Order is that you can seek state criminal charges for a violation, or it can provide a basis for federal charges.” After seven months of tormenting the Gilmore family, their neighbors and costing service workers an estimated $20,000 in lost fees an arrest was made.

Protective Orders & Stalking Injunctions Wins

In the two high profile matters below, Ferbrache Law successfully obtained the outcome asked of their client.

The first was successfully obtaining a civil stalking injunction on behalf of a family being stalked over the internet.  After Ferbrache Law obtained the permanent stalking injunction, the family was able to seek criminal prosecution. 

The second case resulted in a successful permanent protective order on behalf of his client that included Ferbrache Law litigating the matter all the way through to the Utah Court of Appeals, where he prevailed on his client’s behalf.  

Whether you are seeking protection, or have been falsely accused, Ferbrache Law has successfully advocated for their client in matters involving domestic violence, physical abuse, abuse of a child, or stalking. 

If you are seeking a Civil Order for protection, or need to defend yourself against a Civil Order for protection, Ferbrache Law has the experience you seek.  Many Civil Orders are time sensitive and have both filing and response deadlines.  Any delay could severely hinder your ability. Please feel free to call for a free 30 minute consultation.  
Gregory Ferbrache

Ferbrache Law

Ferbrachelaw.com

(801)440-7476

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Sentence Reduction In High Profile Oxycodone Case

After successful plea bargain negotiations Adam Patrick Hemmelgarn, 38 of Hooper was sentenced to 128 months of prison followed by three years’ probation. Prosecutors agreed to drop three other charges. Mr. Hemmelgarn will pay $15,100 in funeral expenses for the man who died after ingesting fentanyl-laced fake Oxycodone sold by Mr. Hemmelgarn.

The national media widely reported this and a related oxycodone case after the death of Jaydon Rogers on March 14, 2018. A Weber County Sheriff found Rogers unresponsive in his West Haven home on March 12, 2018, noticing a pill on the floor leading to an overdose investigation. Over the next few months Weber County Detectives and federal agents traced the fentanyl laced pills back to Mr. Hemmelgarn.

Rogers had been a wrestling coach at Freemont High School after college. He was a state wrestling champion in 2014 and won All-American honors at junior college.

Greg Ferbrache with co-council negotiated a plea deal for Mr. Hemmelgarn. Cases with intense media scrutiny, like this case can create pressure on prosecutors to seek harsh sentences. Opioid addiction and overdose is a national epidemic, garnering greater attention to individuals prosecuted for opioid offenses.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction please call: 801-583-2500. The University of Utah offers a program for drug addiction treatment. 

Greg Ferbrache is an experienced defense attorney and former prosecutor. Call him: (801) 440-7476 to ensure your right’s are protected. 

To find out more about this case: “Utah man who sold fake oxycodone that led to a death headed to prison” Desert News article published 9/19/2019

“Utah man who sold fake oxycodone that led to a death headed to prison” KSL.com published 9/19/2019

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Combat Military Veteran Vindicated of all Criminal Charges

A two time combat veteran was arrested after being forced to leave a Mia Love rally. He fought and won.


“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”


– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Joshua Cameron, a two time U.S. Army war campaign combat veteran, was vindicated after being charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct at a political rally for Mia Love, held at Thanksgiving Point. At the Mia Love rally, he was first prohibited from carrying the American Flag and when he sought to have his voice heard while at the Rally, Thanksgiving Point security immediately escorted Mr. Cameron out of the building. Although he complied with each of their demands, Mr. Cameron believes his own congressional representative at the time, Mia Love, had him thrown out and asked that the Lehi City Police Department cite him for criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Knowing the importance of the matter, he hired Ferbrache Law to ensure his best outcome and to secure his constitutional rights at all costs. Zealously advocating for his client, Greg Ferbrache obtained a dismissal on the morning of trial from Lehi City. Mr. Cameron was exonerated.

The cost of Mia Love using the government to impose her will of suppressing one man’s voice because she may have disagreed with his opinion was to expend tax money in the form of law enforcement and prosecution. The cost to Mr. Cameron, who had earned his right to speak as an American, voter, and combat veteran, and was doing so at a political rally within the district he was to vote, were legal fees and the stigma of being treated as a criminal.

Mr. Cameron would like to go on record with the following statement:

“When I was escorted out of a political rally, where my Lt Governor, State Attorney General, Auditor, U.S. Senator and Federal Representative were, they thought they had seen the last of me. They thought they could bulldoze over my rights, which I had fought for in multiple war zones. We live in a time where our government throw babies in cages. Mia Love and the other elected officials may not want to hear the truth, especially during an election, but she shouldn’t be able to hide from the truth by using the government as a tool to suppress the truth. Since I spoke out at the Mia Love Rally on the evening of August 24, 2018, multiple children have died while in immigration custody. Poor people with no money and no power are being locked up on our southern border. The system tried to threaten me with six months in jail, and a criminal record. Because I stood up and had the money to hire a lawyer who would fight for my constitutional rights, the charges were rightfully dismissed. Without financial means, I too could be detained much like those on our Southern border if I had not challenged the system. To allow these people to be detained, thrown in dog kennels and treated with indignity and injustice, allows our very citizens to be treated the same way. To stand up for these people is to stand up for ourselves.”


Joshua Cameron

Despite Mr. Cameron’s constitutional rights disregarded by his own elected delegates that evening, Mr. Cameron will again look toward having his voice heard. He encourages you to do the same.

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When The Victim Is Charged

Victims charged with Domestic Violence Offense

Too often, victims of domestic violence are mistakenly arrested and criminally charged for protecting themselves from the violence committed against them by the perpetrator who has long been the abuser in a relationship. Unfortunately, these victims feel trapped in the abusive relationship are now more restrained within the criminal system. Rather than fight, many choose to accept a plea deal, and not allow the truth to prevail.


In Utah, even accepting a plea in abeyance to a domestic violence offense can have significant ramifications. A plea in abeyance, although not a conviction, requires you to pay a fine, to be supervised by either the court or probation, to undergo domestic violence treatment, and to risk a conviction if you are unable to complete the ordered terms. Also, a plea in abeyance to domestic violence is enhanceable, meaning that if you are accused of committing domestic violence in the next five years, the government can increase the penalty by one degree, which is significant.


Simply put, the abuser can use protections meant for victims as a sword against the victim and not as a shield as it was intended.


More importantly, the abuser can use the allegation against the victim in many ways. Knowing that a violation of the agreement will result in conviction, the abuser gains even more power and control over the victim. The abuser can also use the allegation to bolster a Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) action, gaining the upper hand for custody in a divorce proceeding, and to obtain a protective order against the victim. Simply put, the abuser can now use the protections that were meant for victims as a sword against the victim and not as a shield as it was intended.


All hope is not lost. Having a defense attorney experienced in the dynamics of domestic violence will provide you the ability to tell your side of the story. Greg Ferbrache has over 14 years as a prosecutor working with victims of domestic violence and other serious victim crimes, and has been recognized for his work in the domestic violence field. As a criminal defense attorney, Greg has successfully obtained justice for victims who have been mistakenly charged. If you have been falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, give Ferbrache Law a call
(801) 440-7476.

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College student will be among first to test new law’s impact on sex assault cases

by Cristina Flores Wednesday, April 3rd 2019 KUTV NEWS Channel 2 Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Tabitha Bell, 18, now a college student in California, will come back to Utah to take advantage of a new law that gives victims of sexual assault a second chance to take their alleged perpetrators to trial.

House Bill 281 — Prosecution Review Amendments — which goes into effect on May 13, will give the Utah Attorney General’s Office authority to give a second look to first-degree felony cases that were vetted by police, but got no action from local prosecutors and never made it to trial.

Bell said she relived the pain of her assault in police interviews and in interviews with prosecutors. She then lived through more pain when prosecutors declined to take her case to trial — even though police felt it had merit.

“If you are going to put yourself through all that emotional trauma, you should have something come of it,” she said.

Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah and a former judge, said sexual assault cases will be most impacted by the new law.

Utah, he said, has a low rate of prosecution for sexual assault cases. He’s not sure why.

“I think part of it is prosecutors are just demanding a very high level of evidence to move forward. Higher than in other parts of the country,” he said.

Dr. Julie Valentine, a professor at Brigham young University and a forensic nurse who has been a leader in advocating for Utah sex assault victims and for more prosecutions, said her research found that in Salt Lake County alone, only 6% of sexual assault cases make it to trial.

Of those cases, only 6% lead to convictions.

That’s likely because prosecutors only take on the cases where they feel very confident they’ll get a conviction.

Valentine said sexual assault cases are challenging because, often, there are no witnesses and, often, the defense attorneys attack the victims during trial.

“We are not trying to imply they are easy cases, we are saying we need more prosecutions of these cases,” Valentine said.


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Salt Lake leaders hope ‘Start by Believing’ campaign, new legislation will encourage assault victims to make voices heard

Fox News 13 POSTED 5:49 PM, APRIL 3, 2019, BY AMANDA GERRYUPDATED AT 08:03PM, APRIL 3, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office said more can be done to battle sexual assault and we can start by believing victims and their stories.

“One of the most common reasons victims of sexual assault do not report the crime is a fear of not being believed and being blamed for the attack,” said Jennifer Seelig, director of community empowerment at the SLC Mayor’s Office.

Salt Lake City became a “Start by Believing” city Wednesday, joining a campaign that encourages the community to support assault victims and hear their stories.

“I’m here today to let them know that I support them, law-enforcement supports them, the City of Salt Lake, the Mayor of Salt Lake City supports them, and that they’ll be believed, and we’ll help them get the services and resources they need,” said Representative Angela Romero.

A member of the Utah Council of Crime Victims also highlighted a new bill that would be another option if victims feel like their voices have been silenced.

“That house bill authorizes the attorney general’s office to take a second look at cases that have been presented to a county or district attorney and have been denied for prosecution,” said Reed Richards, Utah Council of Crime Victims.

This bill will help victims like Tabitha Bell, who says although her experience with the police was relieving, once the district attorney took her case, things started going south.

“On the declination letter, they did not even have the respect to spell my name correctly,” Bell said.

She says when she reported being raped back in November 2017, prosecutors mishandled her report and did not show her and her family the empathy they deserved.

“Why did you think she wanted it when he shoved her face in the couch,” Tabitha said her dad had asked representatives in the District Attorney’s Office. “And they were like, well maybe she wanted it that way.”

One-in-3 Utah woman will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and Chief Mike Brown of the Salt Lake City Police Department says since his agency has become more sensitive to these incidents, more people have become comfortable enough to come forward.

“In the old days, they used to be just, you know, I need the facts. Well, those days are gone. You don’t investigate like that anymore. You go out, and you’re understanding, and you’re sympathetic,” Brown said.

Officials say they hope this awareness and new legislation will bring criminals of assault to justice.

“I feel like with this is helping me to prove to my high school community and to my attacker that they can’t get away with punishing me for coming out,” Bell said, “and I really hope that all the other victims who have not had the strength will be able to come out as well.”

Utah was the first to announce the first Wednesday in April as “Start by Believing” Day, which is nationally recognized.

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Salt Lake leaders declare a ‘Start by Believing’ city

Published by Deseret News April 3, 2019 6:51 pm
By Lauren Bennett & Annie Knox

SALT LAKE CITY — Four women seeking criminal charges for sexual assaults they reported but never saw go to court are now turning to a new Utah law that allows them more options for prosecution, stepping forward on the same day Salt Lake City leaders declared their commitment to believing victims.

With the passage of HB281 by the Utah Legislature, which gives certain rape and sexual assault victims a second chance to pursue criminal charges after a prosecutor declines their case, the four women, who previously asked the Utah Supreme Court to assign a new prosecutor to their cases, withdrew their petition Wednesday.

Tabitha Bell, one of the women who petitioned Utah’s high court in October after prosecutors from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges, gripped her service dog Nox as she spoke Wednesday about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

“Not every victim gets a great family like I do and I just want to make sure with this bill that every victim can be believed and get the justice they deserve,” she said at a news conference Wednesday.

According to the petition, Bell, who has a form of muscular dystrophy, was raped when she was 17 by a classmate of the same age. Bell said it was one week before she told her mother about the assault, and she said she wanted people to understand victims’ responses to assault.

She said she froze during her assault, and because of that, she said she was victim blamed by some. She shared her hope Wednesday that this campaign and the new law will enhance the experience for other sexual assault victims.

“Hopefully no other victim will have to go through this process of feeling not believed,” she said later Wednesday during a panel discussion before University of Utah law students.

The Deseret News typically does not identify victims of sexual assault but Bell agreed to identify herself as Jane Doe No. 1 in the case.

Bell spoke at a news conference Wednesday focused on supporting sexual assault victims in honor of Start by Believing Day, part of the national campaign geared toward supporting victims of sexual assault and removing the stigma surrounding it.

According to court documents, the four women have asked the Utah Attorney General’s Office to conduct a fresh review of their cases under the new law.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB281 last week, but it does not take effect until May.

The bill gives the Utah Attorney General’s Office authority to reconsider first-degree felony cases and possibly file criminal charges after a county attorney passes on the case or waits more than six months to evaluate it. First-degree felonies, considered the most serious offenses, include rape, object rape and murder.

Critics have said the secondary reviews may be unnecessary because prosecutors carefully weigh the cases in the first place, but supporters contend it is a fallback measure in rare instances where a well-founded criminal case is declined.

Previously, Utah’s attorney general could intervene, according to the law’s sponsor, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee. But that’s been possible only when there’s been an abuse of discretion by a district or county attorney, generally meaning a clear error or unreasonable conclusion, the Clearfield Republican has said in the past.

The first Wednesday in April was designated as Start by Believing Day by the 2015 Legislature, when Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored HCR1, a resolution aimed at supporting survivors of sexual violence and the End Violence Against Women International’s Start by Believing campaign.

Utah was the first to declare the annual day and the nonprofit later adopted the day as part of its Start by Believing campaign.

Also Wednesday, Salt Lake leaders declared it would be a “Start by Believing” city.

Jennifer Seelig, director of community empowerment with the Salt Lake City mayor’s office, read the proclamation on behalf of Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who was sick and unable to attend.

The proclamation cited data from the 2007 Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Rape study, which found 1 in 3 Utah women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, higher than the national average for sexual assault crimes.

“We encourage the people and organizations of Salt Lake City to provide support to survivors of rape and sexual assault,” Seelig read from the proclamation.

Reed Richards, of the Utah Council of Crime Victims, also spoke in support of the declaration, as well as Heidi Nestel, director of Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic.

“This I think provides a wonderful right to our crime victims in the state of Utah,” Richards said of the new law. “A wonderful step forward in the Utah legal system.”

Alexandra Merritt, a victim advocate with the clinic, read a statement from the woman identified as Jane Doe No. 4 in the petition, who was unable to attend the event.

“I almost did not report my sexual assault because I knew the process would be scary and difficult and I was very afraid to make it a part of my life,” Merritt read from the statement. “The truth was my perpetrator already made sexual assault a part of my life, and it was up to me stand up for myself and fight for justice.”

Paul Cassell, a University of Utah law professor and former federal judge, represents the four women along with four other attorneys.

“It’s been an honor to represent these brave young women,” Cassell told the Deseret News Wednesday. “They’re sort of the test case, if you will, and what we’re very excited about is by pushing these four cases forward we’ve gotten legislation that’s going to hopefully make a difference.”

The Utah attorney general supports the law, according to a written statement from his office.

“Attorney General Sean Reyes is a fierce advocate of providing justice and a voice for those who have endured a violent crime and for punishing those responsible,” Rich Piatt, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in the statement. “This new law will provide backup support to Utah’s county and district attorneys who work hard to take criminals off the streets. We will continue to work with the legislature to make sure we have the resources we need to review these additional cases. Victims and their families deserve as much.”

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill did not respond to requests for comment, but said in October in response to the original petition that his office has “always supported victim rights and advocates for victims. And one of our challenges, of course, is this issue is not just simply an issue of our prosecution. It’s a broader issue of attrition rates systemically.”

Gill said at the time that if a case is declined, there can be “further investigation.” However, prosecutors “have an obligation” to meet their burden of proof and make sure there is enough evidence.

Following the news conference, the Women’s Law Caucus held a panel about the underprosecution of sexual assault cases with Cassell, Nestel and forensic nurse and BYU assistant professor Julie Valentine. Bell and Bethany Warr, attorney with the victim’s legal clinic who represent’s some of the women from the petition, also joined the panel.

Nestel noted that sexual assault cases are difficult to take to court.

“We know these prosecutors are dedicated to this process, we just have a lot of challenges sometimes convincing juries and educating them to victim behavior,” she said.

But she added she didn’t want people to think it’s all “doom and gloom,” when it comes to prosecution of sexual assault cases.

“What I am here to report is we are seeing some very creative and inspired prosecutors across the state who are trying to take some of these tough cases,”

Valentine spoke about her 2013 study, which examined prosecution rates for sexual assault cases in Salt Lake County between 2003 and 2011 and found that charges were not filed in 91 percent of cases — a larger number than the national number of about 82 to 84 percent.

Valentine said she is in the process of repeating the study to compare numbers and said she hopes to see a huge difference, one she credits to changes in how law enforcement handles sexual assault cases.

She challenged the audience to take what they heard Wednesday to heart and work to change the stigma surrounding sexual assault.

“I feel that this research and this movement is a spark, but it needs to be a bonfire and that bonfire needs to mean all of us working together and saying, ‘Tabitha, we believe you and we are going to do what we can as a society to support survivors with the goal of decreasing sexual violence,’” she said, a nod to Bell. “You all have heard the numbers about our high rates of sexual violence and we need to and I believe we can change this.”

Those who have experienced sexual abuse or assault can get assistance from Utah’s statewide 24-hour Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 888-421-1100.

Obtaining a Civil Stalking Injunction

Stalking can be very difficult to prove when the stalker engages in clandestine methods to avoid detection, civil liability, and even criminal prosecution.  Ferbrache Law has the experience and understanding of how serious stalking can be, and the importance for the victim in obtaining a civil stalking injunction.

Stalking comes in many forms and it may not always be apparent to the casual observer.  In Utah, stalking is defined as “intentionally or knowingly engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person (a) to fear for the persons own safety or the safety of a third person; or (b) to suffer other emotional distress.” U.C.A. 76-5-106.5.  This can be accomplished in any number of unique and covert methods employed by the stalker  

To demonstrate stalking, the victim must establish that the stalker’s conduct would cause emotional distress to a reasonable person in the [victim]’s circumstance.   The Court will also consider the context surrounding defendant’s conduct that may include acts that seem perfectly innocent or even well intentioned.  Utah Courts have included factors such as victim’s background, the victim’s knowledge of and relationship with the defendant, any history of abuse between the parties, the location of the alleged stalking and its proximity to the victim’s children, if any, and the cumulative effect of the defendant’s repetitive conduct.

The stalkers conduct can also include emotional abuse if the stalker’s conduct causes a reasonable person to experience emotional distress and fear for the safety of themselves and others.  “Even if relationships never get physically abusive, emotional abuse can escalate over time with devastating consequences, even death.”  What Emotional Abuse Really Means, by Emily DeSanctis, One Love Foundation.  Examples of emotional abuse are: intimidation, manipulation, blaming, shaming, sabotage, and forced isolation. 

Moreover, “[e]motional abuse is rarely a single event.  Instead, it occurs over time as a pattern of behavior that’s “sustained” and “repetitive”.  The particular characteristic of emotional abuse helps explain why it’s so complicated and so dangerous.”

“Regardless of how emotional abuse unfolds, experts agree that it has devastating effects on those who are subjected to it.  Unfortunately, these effects as well as each harmful act of abuse are largely invisible.  This makes it difficult for most people to comprehend the very real risks and damage of emotional abuse.”

“While describing physical wounds is pretty straightforward, it’s much harder to articulate emotional trauma.  The parts of a person that sustained emotional abuse destroys- identity, dignity, and self-worth- are abstract, almost impossible to picture or measure.”  

  “Emotional abuse, like any other form of cruelty, thrives in the darkness when no one understands, discusses, or recognizes it.”   

Even when the stalker has not directly threatened victim with words such as “I will kill you”, or “I will ruin you financially” or “I will not stop until your dead, sustained and repetitive course of conduct toward the victim, her immediate family, and those around her, the stalker’s disregard for continuing his conduct in a clandestine manner are significant factors of lethality.  Domestic Violence Lethality Factors, PCADV, www.pcadv.org.      

Lethality factors can include a recent separation. “More than half of the victims of domestic violence homicides were estranged from their abuser or planning to leave the relationship at the time they were murdered”.  Id.  Another lethality factor is controlling a victim’s daily activities, even through consuming the victim with texts, emails, and phone calls on a daily basis wherein the victim is not able to hide from her stalker in spite of his proximity can equate to stalking.  “When the partner controls the victim’s daily activities, homicide is five times more likely.”   

“95 percent of attempted homicide victims believed the reason to kill them was ‘to punish me’.” 

Many times, the victim has no way of knowing the lethality of the stalker and what he may be capable of should the victim not submit to the stalker’s desire, which contributes to elevated fear.   “Perpetrator unemployment combined with a history of domestic violence can be a significant risk factor for murder-suicide in intimate partner domestic violence cases.”  

Most importantly, “[s]talking is highly prevalent in cases of actual or attempted female homicide.  Women who reported that an intimate partner followed or spied on them were more than twice as likely to be attempted or actual homicide victims.”  If you or someone you love is being stalked, call an experienced attorney today.