Stalking in the 21st Century
The term “stalking” carries a connotation of someone following us down the street, peeking out from the bushes, and peering in our windows. However, in today’s world of technology, a person doesn’t need to be present to be a stalker.
In the recent decision, E.D.B. v. D.S., the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s determination that a husband who placed an iPad in a shared home office and an iPhone under his bed solely for the purpose of monitoring or recording his wife’s activity was guilty of stalking.
In this case, the Husband, “Daniel,” used his hidden devices to record what his Wife, “Ellen” was doing while he was out of the marital home on a business trip. At trial, Daniel claimed that he utilized his devices to protect his belongings. The Court found his position lacking credibility, as the iPad and the iPhone were pointed outward, toward the doorway and into the hallway, not toward his personal items in the room. The Court further noted that there were plenty of other ways for Daniel to protect his personal belongings, such as his papers and his files. The Court found that the evidence produced by Ellen made it clear that Daniel’s true intentions were to watch Ellen without her knowledge.
Ultimately, the Court found that Daniel utilized these devices to record Ellen’s conversations and activities, which constituted stalking. Pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, stalking is defined as a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety or suffer other emotional distress. The trial court awarded Ellen compensatory damages and legal fees and the award was affirmed by the Appellate Division.