First California Cyber-Stalking Case to Go to Trial

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Here's the scary thing: The female victim in the first case to be prosecuted under a new California "cyber-stalking" law doesn't even own a computer. The statute expands existing stalking and harassment laws to encompass threats made over electronic media, including the Internet, e-mail, pagers, faxes and voice mail. But for anyone who thought that by never logging on they might protect themselves from online creeps, freaks and criminals, consider this: The woman met her alleged harasser in the relative safety of a North Hollywood, Calif., church.

The woman's name was not disclosed by police. According to law-enforcement officials, the case began after the woman spurned a fellow congregant's advances and complained to church elders. The man was asked not to return. Police say he retaliated -- not by stalking her in person, but by posting a fictitious personal ad on America Online under the woman's name. The ad described a woman who sought to live out rape fantasies with multiple partners. As other men responded to the ad, police claim, the scorned suitor would e-mail them her address, phone number and the code to her home security system. Over five months in 1998, six men showed up at her apartment seeking her company. Gary S. Dellapenta, 50, a security guard, was charged with stalking, computer fraud and solicitation of sexual assault in connection with the case. Dellapenta, who pleaded not guilty, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.