Bill Would Bring Stalking Laws into the 21st Century

By Alex Rose |

Published 02/05 2016 07:14PM

Updated 02/05 2016 08:15PM

A victim's testimony shows just how important a new law could be for countless victims of stalking in the Green Mountain State.

"I understand and accept that my presence here today has the potential to put myself and my family in grave danger, but I am part of the 11 percent that has been stalked for five years or more," the victim said before the House Judiciary Committee Friday afternoon.

"So many cases don't make it to prosecution because of the standard right now, and victims are turned away and so we need to provide better opportunities for prosecutors to bring these cases forward so we have a better sense of the scope," said Cara Cookson with the Center for Crime Victim's Services.

Victim's advocates, including Cookson, say the definition of stalking is outdated in a social media world. For victim's the need for an update could not be more dire.

"The system has failed me because of a stalking law that contains out-dated definitions," the victim said.

This victim has been dealing with a stalker since 2008.

"There was little to no recourse for his actions," she said. She then recited an excerpt from one of her many court appearances. "The defendant remains obsessed with the plaintiff. The defendant believes the plaintiff has ruined his life. The defendant harbors great animosity towards the plaintiff and there is danger for further abuse."

The bill would broaden the definition of stalking, including social media and other forms of communication.

Last year in the civil division of Superior Court, 75 percent of requests for protection orders in these cases or sexual assault were denied.

For victims, stronger legislation could break the court cycle, stopping a silent killer in Vermont.

"Stalking is murder in slow motion," the victim said.

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