State Attorney General Rob McKenna is proposing new protections for stalking victims.
For victims such as Tracey Lundeen, the threats, telephone calls, terrifying letters and fear that someone is outside her window can go on for years.
And the best the courts can offer is an anti-harassment order that provides little protection or peace of mind.
Lundeen has begged Shawn Moul to leave her alone since she was in junior high school. The harassment began when Lundeen offered to help Moul with his homework.
Because the two were never in a dating relationship, the courts were limited on what they could do, according to King County prosecutors.
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On Thursday, state Attorney General Rob McKenna announced a push for greater protections for stalking victims such as Lundeen.
McKenna is proposing that the state allow victims to petition the courts for a stalking-protection order. Stalking victims who have no history of dating their stalker now can only apply for a civil anti-harassment order — the same kind of legal protection offered to squabbling neighbors.
“They are commonly less restrictive than a criminal no-contact order or a domestic-violence-protection order,” said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecutor’s Office. “They offer less protection.”
The state proposes that a stalking-protection order could include:
• Barring the stalker from coming within a specified distance from the victim.
• Prohibiting the stalker from keeping the victim, or the victim’s family, under any type of surveillance.
• Banning the stalker from the victim’s home, school or work.
An anti-harassment order doesn’t offer any of those protections.
Lundeen spoke at a news conference in Olympia on Thursday, along with McKenna, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor David Martin and Ken Paulson, whose daughter was slain in 2010 by a man infatuated with her.
In an interview before the news conference, Lundeen, 32, said the proposed law would be welcomed.
“It would hopefully protect me a little bit more and give a harsher punishment to people who haven’t been in a relationship,” she said. “It’s peace of mind for me and for everybody else who could have this going on.”
Shawn Moul has served prison time for stalking Lundeen. Last year, he was convicted of two counts of felony stalking and 19 counts of violating an anti-harassment order by sending letters to Lundeen and her sister. He is facing a mental-competency evaluation and has not been sentenced.
Martin, the deputy prosecutor, said that if the Legislature enacts such an order, Washington will join a handful of states with civil protections tailored for stalking victims.
McKenna, who is running for governor, said he is pushing for stiff penalties for anyone who violates a stalking-protection order, although the details haven’t been worked out.
He said he’ll also ask the Legislature to reclassify the crime of stalking from a Class C to a Class B felony, which would increase the prison time a violator could face. Defendants convicted of multiple counts of violating a stalking-protection order also could face serious prison time, Martin said.
“It’s not just a piece of paper,” McKenna said about the proposed stalking-protection order. “There are no guarantees in life, but we know there are more people thinking twice about a violation of a protection order with serious consequences.”
Jennifer Paulson, 30, had obtained an anti-harassment order against Jed Waits after he repeatedly called her, sent her flowers and visited her workplace against her wishes. Shortly before the slaying, Waits was arrested for violating the order. The two were never romantically involved.
Witnesses told police that they saw Waits outside Birney Elementary School in Tacoma before Paulson, a teacher there, arrived on Feb. 26, 2010. As she got out of her car he opened fire with a handgun, police said. No children were at the school at the time of the shooting.
Waits fled, but was killed later that day in a confrontation with a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy.
Ken Paulson, of Tacoma, said that if a stalking-protection order were in place in 2010 “it would have raised the awareness in the criminal-justice system so this [Waits’ obsession] would have been treated with more seriousness.
“My daughter’s stalker was charged with a misdemeanor. I know this law is the framework that will add protections for women,” he said.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.