WASHINGTON D.C.—After appearing and coming close to winning the trophy for “Dancing With The Stars” on ABC last season, and for being the most famous face recently of survivors of stalking, Erin Andrews went to the nation’s capitol to ask Congress to enact stronger anti-stalking laws in the federal system. Andrews was the victim of a man who stalked her from one location to another while she was performing her duties as a host and correspondent for the sports channel (ESPN). The man was convicted of taking photographs of the beauty in various phases of undress through a peep hole in the wall of the adjoining hotel room.
Andrews spoke intelligently and eloquently about a matter all of us in the public eye fear and have to deal with. However, as she pointed out, the majority of stalking victims are not famous individuals at all. Many times it’s a neighbor, a former boyfriend or girlfriend and others who are acquainted with the victim. Stalking is a serious threat to many people in America, and our federal legislative system needs to catch up with the problem.
Congress is normally reactive, and this time they need to become proactive and find ways to protect people who are being stalked before they are harmed either emotionally or physically. Luckily, California has the nation’s strongest anti-stalking laws, and it is in large part due to the many high profile celebrities who live and work within Los Angeles County and the surrounding counties in southern California.
Director Steven Spielberg, perhaps best known for “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List,” was one of the first celebrities who came out and testified in his own case of stalking. His alleged stalker was accused of going to his Pacific Palisades mansion with duct tape and knives and a manifesto, which stated he planned to tie up and rape the famed director in front of his wife and kids. There are any number of young stars such as the late Dominique Dunne, the star of “Poltergeist,” and Rebecca Schaeffer, the star of “My Sister Sam,” who were murdered by their stalkers simply because they were famous.
To California’s credit, the legislature in Sacramento headed off a more serious stalking epidemic by creating a specific division within the LAPD to handle stalking cases. Hopefully Andrews’s face and words will be taken seriously by Congress, and they will work to make laws that will protect Americans, both famous and not. Stalking is a very frightening situation to find oneself in, and due to the Internet, it can be done now from a distance so be careful what you post online.
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