As reported by Erika Niedowski in the Boston Globe, a Judge issued a decision in a high-profile cyberstalking case. The defendant was a member of the teacher's union and the victim a former state representative from the Town of Bristol. The defendant was found guilty of sending e-mails for the purpose of harassing the representative. The Judge ordered the man to pay a $100.00 fine.
Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 11-52-4.2, whoever transmits any communication by computer or other electronic device to any person or causes any person to be contacted for the sole purpose of harassing that person or his or her family is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
For the purpose of this section, "harassing" means any knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, or bothers the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or be in fear of bodily injury. "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct."
The defendant argued his actions were not criminal and merely an exercise of his free speech rights under the First Amendment. The Judge rejected that argument and ruled that e-mails were designed to harass the representative.
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