Pro Se Litigant
The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that stalking via a third party is a crime. With these words, the Court reinstated the conviction of Andre Becklin, who recruited friends to follow his ex-girlfriend and report back to him. Becklin was sentenced to 12 months in jail.
Using other people to intimidate or follow someone is, in the eyes of the law, the same as if you'd done the stalking yourself. The aim of third-party stalking is to harry a rival while the instigator himself remains at arm's length, concealed from direct observation.
Third-party stalking emerged as a new modus operandi to circumvent the stalking laws which were first instituted in 1990. California took the lead, then other states and other Western countries quickly followed, enacting laws with severe penalties for the direct form of stalking.
In third-party stalking, the instigator cajoles or hires a group of people to undertake the dirty work. Who is susceptible to such persuasion? At the mild end of the spectrum are friends or co-workers of the instigator. At the violent end are members of the unemployed criminal class (often gang members), members of vigilante groups, and even occasional ex-military washouts willing to tutor civilians in survivalist tactics.
Other names are stalking by proxy, organized stalking, gang stalking, or cause stalking. The word ‘cause’ refers to the tactic of making the foot-soldiers believe they are acting in the community interest (i.e. acting for a worthy cause). When perpetrated in an office or other place of employment it known as ‘workplace mobbing.’
When the stalker recruits his network, he invariably uses deceit and defamatory lies to make it appear that his victim ‘deserves’ harsh treatment. This is frank illusion. The real goal is to terrify, immobilize, or break down the victim.
Stalking by proxy deprives the targeted individual of their basic constitutional rights and destroys their freedom, setting a stage for the destruction of a person socially, mentally, and physically through a ceaseless assault that pervades all areas of their life.
The list of reasons why someone becomes a target is as broad as human nature itself.
What precipitates the campaign? It may be anger-driven reprisal for whistle blowing, or fear-driven revenge after criticism or scrutiny of a public figure. In other words, outspoken citizens often become targets.
Another situation is when the breakup of a domestic or romantic relationship segues into stalking by an overly possessive ex-partner. This is so familiar to the courts that anyone with stalking intent will try to fly under the radar via third-party stalking. One such, Andre Becklin, has already been caught; his case (below) set new law.
In the corporate world, someone may set out to thwart a business rival; take over a patent; intimidate an investigative journalist who got too close to sensitive topics; or threaten a researcher who refuses to skew his data.
On the global stage, someone may wish to punish a political activist; derail an attorney who supports controversial issues; or undermine a legislator whose work challenges the status quo. Stalking could also represent a hate campaign toward a particular group.
Money can be a motive: There are reports of harassing the legatee of a will, perpetrated by a family member next in line to inherit. More commonly, one party in a lawsuit may aim to win unfair advantage; this especially holds when a financial award is pending, but could be inflicted in any proceeding whether a civil lawsuit, a class-action, or a criminal case.
The victim is subjected to surveillance, street theatre, and abuse with few bounds. Be clear on this: The average person could not cross those boundaries. The instigator casts his net wide, and perhaps 2% to 3% of people respond. These are sociopaths – the few in society who will breach personal boundaries if given ‘permission’ to do so, and once on that path will develop the trope of a predator: the word NO vanishes from their vocabulary.
When foot-soldiers are recruited, they are told their targets are criminals, but the stalkers know in their heart it is not so. The raw fact that their targets are decent, upright citizens is what makes the stalkers feel safe. People on a ‘cause stalking’ mission would run a mile in the other direction from real criminals, for fear of what the target may do back.
Stalking is about power, control, intimidation, and intrusive knowledge. Historically, stalking meant solo harassment. Now, the definition includes directing or manipulating others to harass a victim. Having others do the ‘dirty work’ doesn’t make you any less guilty. The initiator is responsible for the crime because it is committed at his will.
|Category and Purpose|
Report back information on the target.
Ostensible: The instigator claims the target is doing something wrong and therefore should be monitored.
Hidden Agenda: To find out what the target values, to destroy those things or turn them into sources of abuse.
To upset the target, to draw the target into repeated conflicts, or make it appear the target is in constant conflict, and therefore should have his or her rights curtailed.
To disrupt socio-familial ties, to undermine credibility, and to make it difficult for the victim to get support to stop the stalking. This tactic is especially used to silence whistle-blowers.
To humiliate the victim, and drive the victim into social isolation.
Often the perpetrator uses geography to his advantage, accosting the victim in a bottleneck area such as a doorway. Lying in wait adds to the severity of this crime, in the eyes of the law.
In a truly surreal move this is a ‘reward’ offered to entice the more sociopathic of the foot-soldiers† who are capable of the boundary breaches that would appall and block normal people.
Stalkers are not told the real reason for their ‘mission’, but in this category they likely guess it based on their own background.
|Asset = Weakness||
The greatest asset of a stalker group is also its greatest weakness. The group profiles its victim to discover what deeds will create maximum trauma. The victim sees a finite repeating pattern from an array of supposed strangers. After a period of bafflement, the target will recognize that he or she is being stalked by proxy.
†Foot-solider is used as a metaphor for blind obedience: a follower, not a leader. We do not suggest the military is involved.
Andre Paul Becklin was accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend, Mary Alison McGee. At his trial, held in Washington State Court, the Prosecutor presented evidence that Becklin spent time directing several of his friends to follow Mary McGee and report back to him regarding her activities. The State argued:
“Assistance. Aiding and abetting. That's what it is, that's what this case is about, is enlisting others to do your own dirty work, and that's what Mr. Becklin did.
The jury asked for clarity: Can you stalk a party through a third person? The Judge said "Yes" after hearing arguments from both sides. The jury convicted Becklin of stalking; he was sentenced to 12 months.
Becklin appealed, saying the Trial Judge improperly answered the jury's question. The Washington Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the conviction.
The State then petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review. Final ruling: The original instruction to the jury was accurate: stalking includes directing others to harass a victim. The Supreme Court restored the conviction. Becklin went to jail.
In this case, the Washington Supreme Court first considered accomplice liability:
A person is an accomplice of another person in commission of a crime if:
(a) With knowledge that it will promote or facilitate the commission of the crime, he (i) solicits, commands, encourages, or requests such other person to commit it; or (ii) aids or agrees to aid such other person in planning or committing it; or
(b) His conduct is expressly declared by law to establish his complicity.
But accomplice liability need not be proven if the crime of stalking encompasses the act of directing a third party to follow or harass a victim. The Washington Supreme Court chose this path, saying: The plain-language interpretation of some criminal statutes clearly contemplates the involvement of third parties.
The stalking statute includes any form of communication, contact, or conduct that seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to the victim. Directing others to follow or otherwise harass a victim can be a “form of communication, contact, or conduct” that amounts to harassment contemplated under the stalking statute.
While the criminal stalking statutory scheme does not explicitly refer to harassment through third parties, the definition of “course of conduct” contemplates a broad range of harassing activities including manipulation or direction of third parties to achieve the intended emotional distress of a victim.
In sum, the plain language of the stalking statute is broad enough to encompass the act of directing third parties to follow and intimidate a victim.
Tuum Est - It Is Up To You
The widespread interest in gossip is inspired, not by a love of knowledge but by malice:
No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues, but only about their secret vices.
Accordingly most gossip is untrue, but care is taken not to verify it.
Our neighbor’s sins, like the consolations of religion, are so agreeable that we do not stop to scrutinize the evidence closely.
On Education (1926)
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