“The response by and large is: Ignore it and turn off your computer,” said Danielle Citron, a University of Maryland law professor and author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.”
Law enforcement must realize that there is a difference between internet trolls and cyberstalkers. When trolls are ignored, they generally go elsewhere and find someone else to hassle. They generally don’t have personal hatred and retribution against those they troll. Trolls generally have no personal knowledge of those they troll.
Cyberstalkers are different. What they do is intended to cause harm in the personal lives of their target victims and some extend that harm to the family of target victims. They have usually been friends or another type of acquaintance. When they are ignored, they find another way to get their target’s attention. If their overall intent is to destroy their victim’s life, they continue and progress in their course of conduct.
As this case demonstrates, when they think that they will not be arrested, they eventually do something so outrageous that it goes beyond cyberstalking.
The convicted perpetrator in this case used actions to conduct his cyberstalking that cannot be explained in summary. In other words, this post is going to be longer than usual. There are two main sources I use for this post. The Department of Justice’s press release gives details of illegal actions leading to arrest. The other source is the Seattle Times that published an interview with the victim, Francesca Rossi.
Juan Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, was employed as a journalist by The Intercept from November 2014 until January 2016. Thompson was fired for fabricating sources and quotes in stories.
In late 2014, Francesca met Juan on an online dating site. She worked as a social worker. They bonded over their commitment for reform. In the Spring of 2015, Juan moved into Francesca’s Brooklyn apartment.
Francesca started getting harassing texts from ex-boyfriends. The wife of an ex-boyfriend said she sued Francesca, accusing her of giving the ex-boyfriend a sexually transmitted disease. The lawsuit turned out to be a hoax. Then Francesca found a nude picture of herself online.
Francesca contacted Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer that specializes in online harassment. Attorney Goldberg quickly figured out that only one person was behind the harassment. Juan had been posing as Francesca’s ex-boyfriends for months. Francesca believed that he was trying to make her feel bad so he could intimidate and control her. (Known fact; Stalkers often create conditions to cause their target victims to feel they need them to resolve or for comfort.) Continue reading