When Love Letters Become Hated Mail

At first, Kerry Ellison considered Sterling Gray an amiable pest. A fellow agent in the Internal Revenue Service's San Mateo, Calif., office, Gray, 45 and a married man, would often interrupt Ellison, 31, as she talked with colleagues. He also asked her out for lunch and drinks and would not be put off by her refusals. Then, in October 1986, he handed Ellison a note: "I cried over you all last night, and I'm totally drained today . . ."

Ellison, unsure about her rights, did not formally lodge a complaint at the time. A few days later, she traveled to...

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