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Anti-stalking legislation introduced

Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, is pictured after being sworn into office earlier this year.

Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, wants to strengthen the state’s stalking laws.

DeLuca recently introduced House Bill 429 to add clarifying language to the state’s stalking statutes so that the law would allow stalking charges to be made whether or not the victim was aware they were being stalked.

The Allegheny County Democrat said there was a case in his district in which someone was found not guilty of stalking despite video evidence showing him stalking.

“If you were methodically followed home by a stranger without knowing it, would you say that you were stalked?” DeLuca wrote in his legislative memorandum. “Unfortunately, a constituent in Allegheny County does not have to imagine this hypothetical. She was followed home one night, without her knowing it, and was sexually assaulted. Her stalker was eventually arrested and charged with multiple crimes but he was acquitted of the stalking charges because a jury concluded that the victim was not aware that she was being followed – even though there was video evidence of him following his victim.”

State law currently says a person is guilty of stalking if they follow a person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person; or repeatedly communicates to another person under circumstances which demonstrate or communicate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.

“To be clear, Pennsylvania law does not say that stalking is only a crime if the victim knows that they are being stalked,” DeLuca wrote. “In fact, the statute does not explicitly say anything about a victim’s knowledge. Therefore, to protect stalking victims and to prevent future miscarriages of justice, I will be introducing legislation making it explicitly clear that stalking is a crime in Pennsylvania, regardless of whether a victim knows that they are being stalked.”

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