Stephens v. Rose

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The plaintiff filed a petition for a protective order against the defendant, her ex-boyfriend. The two ended their relationship in 2007, but from 2009 to 2012, the defendant made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to re-establish contact with the plaintiff via e-mail and social media. In 2013, the defendant escalated his attempts, first driving to the plaintiff ’s parents’ home in Canton, Ohio, and approaching her father at 6:20 a.m. to find out where the plaintiff was currently living. The plaintiff’s father told the defendant not to contact the plaintiff anymore and then called 911. The plaintiff became afraid upon learning that the defendant had visited her parents’ home, asking her current boyfriend to stay with her because she was afraid to be home alone. The defendant began repeatedly calling and leaving voice messages for the plaintiff. Within a one-week period, he called her 40 times. On one occasion, the plaintiff ’s boyfriend answered the phone and told the defendant that he had the wrong number and not to call anymore. The defendant also attempted to contact the plaintiff at her work. Then, one day, after placing several calls between 2 and 3 A.M., the defendant showed up at the plaintiff ’s home at 7 A.M. with flowers, and the plaintiff ’s boyfriend called 911 and had him arrested. The issue before the Court was whether these acts satisfied the statutory requirements for a protective order which require an “[a]ct of violence, force, or threat.” The Court held that stalking satisfies the requirements for a protective order even in the absence of physical harm or threatened physical harm. The Court set forth three elements necessary to prove stalking: (1) “the defendant directed his or her conduct toward the victim on at least two occasions”; (2) “intended to cause fear or knew or should have known that his or her conduct would cause fear”; and (3) “the defendant’s conduct caused the victim ‘to experience reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury.’” The Court held that, in this case, these three factors were satisfied and explained, with respect to the third factor, that it was sufficient that the plaintiff said that she “was scared,” because “[a] victim need not specify what particular harm she fears to satisfy the third element of stalking.”



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