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  1. #1
    Wadsworth is offline Junior Member
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    Internet harassment

    Pennsylvania

    I'm hoping I'm in the right place to post this. Please help me if you can.

    A few years ago, I got into an argument with a guy on a chat forum. We didn't like each other. He then posted my real name and address and personal information including my police recird and child support payments and families names and such. So, I left the site and never returned. He tracked me down on Myspace and Facebook and started messaging my friends and family. He made blogs about me and websites about me, all filled with lots of ignorant things about me, insults, etc. At one point, I did say to him something like "I'd love to meet you b/c I'd break your jaw" or something like that. We went back and forth for a while like that, etc.

    Then it died down. Now, this clown is back at it. He makes posts about me on forums all over the internet. They are very insulting and he has dragged my family into it again. I have emailed him and literally begged him to stop. He refuses to stop. He even said "me and my biker buddies might have to come see you soon, and you won't like that."

    The bottom line is, what are my options? I just want it to stop. I'd like to file a civil or criminal suit against him, but I don't know his real name or location. I don't need to sue him, but even if I got $5 out of him, and a judge issued an order for him to cease all actions related to me and my family, I'd be thrilled. He does operate a website, and I have several of his emails where the I.P. is listed and such, so I am assuming that somebody could track down his true identity if they needed to. I personally can't track him down.

    What can I do? Police? Civil suit? What? Please help.
  2. #2
    Magdela is offline Member
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    Do you have any idea how he found your personal information? You can begin by filing a police report and documenting all the harassment you experienced. Also alerting those specific social networks is also helpful because they can deactivate his accounts as well. I'm not familiar with Pennsylvania law but there are statutes where posting your personal information with the intent to ridicule or harass is a misdemeanor offense. Also the fact that he stated in a communication that he wanted to meet you to break your jaw is assault as he threatened you. If he got your personal information and you are really concerned you need to find out who this character is. In the state where I live we also have a code which is called harassment via telecommunications and you also can make a police report for this. How you would go about finding out who this is however will require you to take this matter up with Federal Court in order to force the internet sites give the information regarding his ip address or any other subscriber information.

    Hope this helps and it should get you started.
  3. #3
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magdela View Post
    Do you have any idea how he found your personal information? You can begin by filing a police report and documenting all the harassment you experienced. Also alerting those specific social networks is also helpful because they can deactivate his accounts as well. I'm not familiar with Pennsylvania law but there are statutes where posting your personal information with the intent to ridicule or harass is a misdemeanor offense. Also the fact that he stated in a communication that he wanted to meet you to break your jaw is assault as he threatened you. If he got your personal information and you are really concerned you need to find out who this character is. In the state where I live we also have a code which is called harassment via telecommunications and you also can make a police report for this. How you would go about finding out who this is however will require you to take this matter up with Federal Court in order to force the internet sites give the information regarding his ip address or any other subscriber information.

    Hope this helps and it should get you started.
    Please provide OP with the relevant statutes.
  4. #4
    Magdela is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogmatique View Post
    Please provide OP with the relevant statutes.

    The OP is not in the state of Georgia which is what I indicated she should model her search after. I guess you have a point, the information might be helpful. Here goes:

    O.C.G.A. 16-11-40 Criminal defamation (a) a person commits the offense of criminal defamation when, without a privilege to do so and with intent to defame...which exposes one who is alive to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, and which tends to provoke a breach of the peace. (b) a person who violates subsection (a) of this code section is guilty of a misdemeanor.
  5. #5
    Wadsworth is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for your reply. I made the mistake of sharing a photograph on the forum one time, using a link to Photobucket. I used my real name to sign up with Photobucket, so the link the the picture was something like www.photobucket.com/album/"MYREALNAME"/picture001 He used that to do some internet searches I guess, and public records searches, and came up with all of my personal information.

    As far as finding out who he is, you advised me to take it up with Federal Court. How do I go about doing this? Do I need an attorney for that? Yes, I am worried that this creep will show up at my house or my kids school or my family's workplaces or even try to attack me. Please advise if you can?

    I will file police reports this evening, but what will they do? Will they do the research to find out who he is and tell him to stop? I can't see them doing that, so at the best, I end up having reports on record to use as proof for AFTER he attacks me? That's the second part I'm not getting. I basically just want it to stop, but I also want to find out who he is so that I can be aware if he is intruding into the rest of my personal life in any way.

    Thanks again, sincerely.
  6. #6
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    If he got your personal information and you are really concerned you need to find out who this character is.
    The problem is personal information is very commonly available to the general public anyway.

    There may be something of a case for harassment and invasion of privacy though - OP, you are best advised to consult with an attorney. This is probably not something you want to take on yourself if there is a case. The other obvious action you can take is to close out your FB account etc., and if you redo them make yourselves "unsearchable" - this is very easy to do on Facebook for one.

    Magdela, it's great that you want to help. But when you're saying "in my state...." and quoting your state law you're not helping OP - s/he needs to know the laws in his/her own state. I asked you to provide statutes for OP's state - not your own...but that might not have been overly clear so that's my fault too.

    Also:

    Also the fact that he stated in a communication that he wanted to meet you to break your jaw is assault as he threatened you.
    It would appear that it was OP who threatened the poster, not the other way around.
  7. #7
    Wadsworth is offline Junior Member
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    Correct. I did threaten him, and he has threatened me. The fact is that he knows where I live, and I have no clue who he is or where he lives or anything. Sure, I shouldn't have let him get under my skin, but if someone were to do and say the things to you that he has done and said to and about me, you'd want to protect youself too. Heck, I'd be willing to face charges for threats or whatever, as long as he faced them too, and the end result is him no longer being able to contact me or post things about me and my family.

    So, you say I definitely should get an attorney for this? That's the problem. Times are tough, and money is tight, and I was really hoping to handle this myself through law enforcement.

    Here's a question for you. Can I file civil charges against him without knowing who he is, and then the courts will get his information and bring him to court?
  8. #8
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wadsworth View Post
    Correct. I did threaten him, and he has threatened me. The fact is that he knows where I live, and I have no clue who he is or where he lives or anything. Sure, I shouldn't have let him get under my skin, but if someone were to do and say the things to you that he has done and said to and about me, you'd want to protect youself too. Heck, I'd be willing to face charges for threats or whatever, as long as he faced them too, and the end result is him no longer being able to contact me or post things about me and my family.

    So, you say I definitely should get an attorney for this? That's the problem. Times are tough, and money is tight, and I was really hoping to handle this myself through law enforcement.

    Here's a question for you. Can I file civil charges against him without knowing who he is, and then the courts will get his information and bring him to court?
    Yes, you can try to make a "John Doe" report to the police in Pennsylvania including all of the details and the threats received. Whether they will follow up or not honestly cannot be foretold.

    The networking sites are inclined to fight tooth and nail to protect the privacy of their users even when faced with a subpoena and they have large amounts of money and resources invested in their respective legal departments to do just that; you may be facing an extremely tough battle to compel them to release the identity of this person.

    I strongly advise you to have at least an initial consult with a local attorney about the civil matter - many offer free or low-cost first appointments and that way you can at least know whether this is worth pursuing or not. If you choose to go ahead it will NOT be cheap - remember these networking sites have the ability to bury you with legal costs.
  9. #9
    Magdela is offline Member
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    The police will take this as serious as you put it to them. If you are really that afraid they might send and officer over to your home to take the report and then it would get assigned to a detective which will look into the violation. However although they have technology if it's not as easy to get info on the person they might not go thru the trouble of finding out his identity.

    The reason I mentioned Federal Court is because that is who have jurisdiction over the internet. You can start by simple things like creating a paper trail and contacting the administrators of the websites like myspace, facebook, etc. If he contacted your family and friends thru facebook it should lead to him in some form because you cannot send messages without being a member. Explain to them what is going on and reference that you have already reported it to your local police (once you have done this) and then basically ask them (or check on the site as it directs you) what you need to do to report the harassment with them in order to follow up and get his information.

    There was an article recently where a supermodel found out the identity of a blogger who said negative comments against the supermodel and she filed with Federal Court and they made the social networking site provide the blogger's info. Then at that point you can sue for civil damages or even go for the criminal charges if your state code provides for that.

    My basic point is that if you wind up having to go to court at some point you want to be able to prove your case. Also document what period of time this has occurred over because a few incidents doesn't seem that serious. Just build your case by corresponding with everyone involved and also like Dog mentioned seek legal advise at some point but start there and share your results.
  10. #10
    Magdela is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogmatique View Post
    Yes, you can try to make a "John Doe" report to the police in Pennsylvania including all of the details and the threats received. Whether they will follow up or not honestly cannot be foretold.

    The networking sites are inclined to fight tooth and nail to protect the privacy of their users even when faced with a subpoena and they have large amounts of money and resources invested in their respective legal departments to do just that; you may be facing an extremely tough battle to compel them to release the identity of this person.

    I strongly advise you to have at least an initial consult with a local attorney about the civil matter - many offer free or low-cost first appointments and that way you can at least know whether this is worth pursuing or not. If you choose to go ahead it will NOT be cheap - remember these networking sites have the ability to bury you with legal costs.

    What do you base this on? From what I know, Google being one of the large ones will provide you with info if you take them to Federal Court in order to get the info. However you have to prove that the person is in violation of a statute just like any other civil or criminal case. I agree that some are more difficult than others but in this climate of internet harassment and what happened with the myspace teenage suicide hoax/threat, they are taking these things more seriously and cooperating.
  11. #11
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magdela View Post
    [FONT="Arial Black"]The police will take this as serious as you put it to them. If you are really that afraid they might send and officer over to your home to take the report and then it would get assigned to a detective which will look into the violation. However although they have technology if it's not as easy to get info on the person they might not go thru the trouble of finding out his identity.
    You are also assuming that it's a crime in OP's state. Not wise to do.

    The reason I mentioned Federal Court is because that is who have jurisdiction over the internet. You can start by simple things like creating a paper trail and contacting the administrators of the websites like myspace, facebook, etc. If he contacted your family and friends thru facebook it should lead to him in some form because you cannot send messages without being a member.
    Unless of course messages are being sent from faked accounts. Come on - you're reaching farther than the Great Wall of China.

    Again, I know you're trying to help and that's great. But you seriously need to stop posting unless you can back up your statements.
  12. #12
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magdela View Post

    What do you base this on? From what I know, Google being one of the large ones will provide you with info if you take them to Federal Court in order to get the info. However you have to prove that the person is in violation of a statute just like any other civil or criminal case. I agree that some are more difficult than others but in this climate of internet harassment and what happened with the myspace teenage suicide hoax/threat, they are taking these things more seriously and cooperating.
    Do you have any idea at all of how difficult it is to obtain such a subpoena? And even more-so for a John Doe case?
  13. #13
    Magdela is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogmatique View Post
    You are also assuming that it's a crime in OP's state. Not wise to do.



    Unless of course messages are being sent from faked accounts. Come on - you're reaching farther than the Great Wall of China.

    Again, I know you're trying to help and that's great. But you seriously need to stop posting unless you can back up your statements.

    Back my statements up with what? All that I am posting is based on experience in the specific area that the OP posed the question. I cannot speak to what goes on in her state but as far as with Federal Law I have already given the examples of specific instances and how they handle things. This is not speculation.

    I never assumed what this guy is doing is a criminal offense in her state, I explained that she needs to take the time to look into it. Harassment is a crime in all states its just the ability to prove it that keeps people from getting justice served.

    I'm not reaching at all, I'm just very familiar with what I have posted and perhaps you are not and merely offering suggestions of a general nature. Her best bet as I already agreed with you is to consult with an attorney, but filing a police police report is her #1 best bet to start with.
  14. #14
    Magdela is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogmatique View Post
    Do you have any idea at all of how difficult it is to obtain such a subpoena? And even more-so for a John Doe case?

    It's not a subpoena you ask for you file an injunction with Federal Court to provide this info as you are in imminent danger and need this information to go along with an ongoing investigation of harassment or whatever the police term as the violation.

    There was recently a case filed in the state of Texas where a group of people on a website roasted this particular individual, do you know that the individual filed an injunction to prevent future discussion about her and the defendants were listed by screen name and the injunction went against the administrator of the website. I think part of the outcome included the administrator providing the plaintiff the info she had on the screen names and there was an award for damages to the plaintiff as well. I couldn't believe that the judge even entertained a case with a bunch of screen names but the internet is getting too dangerous and personal. I was honestly shocked myself.
  15. #15
    Magdela is offline Member
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    Here is the PA code on Harassment no assumptions:

    18 Pa.C.S. 2709 (2006)
    2709. Harassment
    (a) OFFENSE DEFINED.-- A person commits the crime of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, the person:
    (1) strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the other person to
    physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;
    (2) follows the other person in or about a public place or places;
    (3) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which
    serve no legitimate purpose
    ;
    (4) communicates to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious,
    threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures
    ;
    (5) communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
    (6) communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or
    (7) communicates repeatedly in a manner other than specified in
    paragraphs (4), (5) and (6).
    (b) Deleted by 2002, Dec. 9, P.L. 1759, No. 218, 1, effective in 60 days.
    (B.1) VENUE.--
    (1) An offense committed under this section may be deemed to have been
    committed at either the place at which the communication or
    communications were made or at the place where the communication or
    communications were received.
    (2) Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one
    jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act
    occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of
    conduct.
    (c) GRADING.--
    (1) An offense under subsection (a)(1), (2) or (3) shall constitute a
    summary offense.
    (2) (i) An offense under subsection (a)(4), (5), (6) or (7) shall
    constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree.

    (d) FALSE REPORTS.-- A person who knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to implicate another under this section commits an offense under section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).
    (e) APPLICATION OF SECTION.-- This section shall not apply to conduct by a party to a labor dispute as defined in the act of June 2, 1937 (P.L. 1198, No. 308), known as the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, or to any constitutionally protected activity.
    (f) DEFINITIONS.-- As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall
    have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
    "Communicates." Conveys a message without intent of legitimate communication or address by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission.
    "Course of conduct." A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

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