I sometimes say that I am a boring person who seems to be leading a rather exciting life. It seems strange to me that the same person who grew up reading comic books and playing role-playing games, grew up to lead a life that has so far included:
- being sued by a large corporation bent on destroying me
- looking down the barrel of a loaded gun and daring the person to pull the trigger
- writing a book about the collapse of the American economy
Perhaps I’m a weirdness magnet or perhaps I am unconsciously seeking this drama out to spice up my otherwise boring existence. I’m not certain, but my life experiences do seem to make for interesting tales. My latest development involved getting a restraining order against one who is stalking my girlfriend. I thought I’d recount the experiences here to aid anyone who has to go through the process themselves.
The person in question was one of my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends. Since he is not a “public person”, I will just call him Jackass to protect his privacy. Strangely enough, I actually met her through him, because we were friends at the time. And as my once-friend has recently threatened my life via gun and mail bomb, I guess this goes to show you that you never really know about some people.
But I’m getting ahead of things.
The relationship between Jackass and my future girlfriend was on-the-rocks at the time I came into the picture, and, while she now admits to there having been a developing attraction, it was never acted upon. Still, he could sense it, and therefore took steps to alienate himself from me. Ironically, the pretext he used for it was that I was somehow threatening to her, and he feared that I might take reprisal against her for perceived slights by him. It’s ironic given recent events, but he played himself up to be her stalwart protector and used that pretense to cease all contact with me. Eventually, there was a parting of ways between the two of them and myself. I expected that that would be that.
Life is never that simple.
At the start of the year, I heard from Taylor, a frequent commenter of this blog. He and Taylor had been one-time friends as well, and suddenly, Jackass had gotten back in touch with Taylor in response to viewing Taylor’s wedding album. I had been in attendance of the wedding, and this motivated Jackass to contact him to ask how he could still be friends with me given how horrible I had been towards his now ex-girlfriend. Yes, you heard that correctly: though she had recently ended the relationship, he was still casting himself as her stalwart protector against my evil transgressions. Taylor then contacted me and asked if there was any truth to Jackass’ numerous accusations against me. I assured him there was not. What I did learn from this exchange, however, was that those two had broken up.
Being nothing short of a love opportunist, I contacted her and suggested we get together. Soon, we were exclusively dating. You might have thought that after being the unwitting, ironic impetus for me to reach out to her, that his role in this particular tale would come to a close.
I should have known better.
You see, the bizarre behavior that he exhibited over the course of knowing him should have served as a warning that all was not well with the young man. Ordinary men do not fashion themselves their woman’s protector as a ruse to alienate a competitive interest, and they particularly do not maintain this ruse AFTER being dumped. While many of us might fail to move on just after the end of a romantic affair, it’s a very rare person who would attempt to maintain the facade that they are still fighting battles on the behalf of a now ex-girlfriend. Come to find out, there was an episode of battering during their relationship, which makes his claims of being her protector all the more bizarre.
Taken as a whole, all of this behavior is a warning sign.
Sure enough, around Thanksgiving we heard from him again. This time, via the Internet. He had been taking programming courses to try and better himself, and apparently decided to use his newfound powers of the computer for ill. It seems he was using an anonymized IP, and various aliases to send harassing messages to her through AOL Instant Messenger and phone texts. In addition, he would drop by this blog and make a pest of himself by posting all manner of harassing comments. He seemed to feel that because he was doing this harassment through the Internet via alias, that there was little we could do. In fact, in numerous messages he said that he was basically untouchable and that there was nothing the law could do about him.
A notion of which, I was rather anxious to dissuade him.
First, she and I engaged him in AIM conversation. He craved an audience and, basking in the power of his perceived anonymity, went on to give himself away several times by giving out information about the two of us that only he would know. In addition, she commented that the word choice and emoticons he used in several of his texts were exactly as she knew him to use. At one point, he even went so far as so say that she would be his “bitch” again and that he was “beyond taking no for an answer”. Comments like that greatly narrow the field of who we could possibly be dealing with, and show just how far gone the person is.
All very interesting, but can we actually take this circumstantial evidence to the courts? Furthermore, what could we, a couple in California, do about harassment from someone in Texas? Can the legal system protect us given this set of circumstances?
The answer is yes — it absolutely can.
- The first step is to get a restraining order.
While the police are typically slow to move on complaints of cyberstalking, (as it remains a federal crime, in the jurisdiction of, not local police agencies, but the FBI) they are much faster moving regarding charges of violating a restraining order. The actual process of getting one varies from state to state; in California, it is quite simple. In fact, they even have a special department set up at the superior court to walk you through it. All the forms are in plain English (or Spanish) and are easy to fill out. You see a judge who will look over your evidence and authorize the restraining order — all on that same day. In our case, the judge looked over the numerous AIM texts where Jackass … er, someone who seemed a lot like our him — had his knowledge, grudges, and speech patterns — threatened to kill both my girlfriend and myself. He used language that was both colorful and graphic, which I’m sure helped the judge render his decision to authorize a restraining order after only ten minutes of reading.
Now, I’m sure some of you are asking if a California restraining order can restrain a Texas resident.
Again, absolutely, it can.
A restraining order, is a restraining order, is a restraining order, and it can be presented to the Texas police if he makes a pest of himself again, and they are obligated to investigate it just as they would an order that was authorized by a Texas court. In his case, the legal process is working to his detriment. Should he choose to present himself at the hearing, he would have to do so by taking a trip to California. Of course, he could just hire a California attorney, but he’s about to discover the joys of paying legal fees on a pizza delivery boy’s salary. (Yes, that is his profession).
The only thing we had to do next was get it served, which means that someone who was not named as a protected person had to present it to him in person. And you cannot direct-mail serve a court order. Of course, my girlfriend had a few friends who had been horrified by his treatment of her and were more than happy to present it to him … at work.
Which is exactly what happened.
Today, at roughly 7:30 PM Central Standard Time, he was served with California Superior Court Case Number S0003689, Temporary Restraining Order and Notice of Hearing. The court order itself has boiler plate language that prohibit him from owning a gun, and if he already does, he must either sell or turn it into the police within 24 hours of receiving the order.
The person serving it said she delighted in sarcastically wishing him a “Merry Christmas.”
I will continue to update this blog as to how the case progresses. It should be fairly straightforward because he no longer has his perceived anonymity of the Internet with which to issue idle death threats. As he has been told, everything he says, or instant messages, or texts, can now be lawfully recorded and used against him. Even if he does it anonymously, it is more evidence that the judge would weigh against him in this case, so I suspect that we may have heard the last of him. But, you never know. He does seem rather crazy, and he is going to be spending Christmas alone.
Fortunately, we’re going to be spending all of Christmas in California, so there’s less of a chance that he could ever actually carry out his threats — even if he got the mind to.
All in all, I’d say that it’s going to be a rather happy Christmas, indeed.