Victim advocate's case illustrates high-tech harassment trend
In its short lifespan, texting has been blamed for all sorts of societal ills -- for distracting drivers on roads, students in school and workers who should be minding their jobs.
But now it appears that text messages are moving, at times, from an occasional annoyance to something more sinister. Texting is becoming the latest way for angry people to harass or threaten others, especially estranged spouses or girl- or boyfriends.
"I definitely have seen more e-mail and texting harassment cases in the last five years. Now we have all these throwaway phones that can't be easily traced back to the owner," said Connecticut's victim advocate, Michelle Cruz.
Linda Blozie, a public affairs director for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, has noticed the same thing. "I think people are looking at new and creative ways to have contact with victims and because most people have cell phones nowadays that seems to be an easy way to do it," she said.
It's Cruz's own personal travails that have brought all this to light in Connecticut. Cruz for a time lived with Paul C. Barkyoumb, a Holyoke, Mass., police detective. After a two-year relationship, the couple broke up. But, says Cruz, she began receiving continuous text messages from Barkyoumb in July.
Cruz asked the Holyoke Police Department to talk to Barkyoumb, said her lawyer, Christopher Morano, of Essex, Conn. She also asked the nearby South Hadley, Mass., Police Department for help. Cruz then applied for a family violence restraining order in Massachusetts but a judge would not grant it. "While there were definitely unwanted text messages and contacts, they didn't rise to the level of being threatening behavior under Massachusetts law," said Morano.
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By: Christian Nolan