In 2012, Courtney Allen was accepting a difficult time in her accord and she addled up an online activity with a gamer in her accord called Todd Zonis; back her bedmate Steven begin out about it and she banned to breach it off, he emailed her family, his family, and Zonis’s family.
Afterwards that, the Allens — anew accommodated — accomplished a horrific, years-long affliction of internet stalking and harassment, with sexually absolute photos of Courtney Allen emailed to her absolute amphitheater of accompany and family, all the way bottomward to the daycare area they beatific their baby son. They were prolifically impersonated in online letters and amusing media accounts that approved to discredit and asperse them, and subjected to threats of abandon and ruination, with imprecations for Courtney Allen to annihilate herself, which she about did.
Neither the law administration in Washington area the Allens lived, nor in Arizona area Zonis lived, were able to advice in any way, admitting ascent peril, including SWATings.
Finally, the Allens got pro-bono advice from a top law close that specialized in cyber aggravation and stalking, and hundreds of bags of dollars’ annual of chargeless acknowledged assistance, anchored a board adjudication for added than $8 million. Zonis has vowed to appeal, and a website that bears his name describes his grievances adjoin the Allens (which are nonsensical) and includes the nude images of Courtney with an admonition to advance them.
The adventure is alarming both in the abandonment and alarm that the Allens experienced, and the disability of the amends arrangement to accomplish any faculty of their plight or advice them with it.
By the end of arguments, the Allens’ acknowledged aggregation had alien 1,083 exhibits into evidence. The blueprint Van Engelen fabricated aloof to adapt the emails was 87 pages long. It was a akin of ysis that few cyberharassment cases anytime receive—and an ogy of what victims face back ambidextrous with such a complicated case, abnormally if they don’t accept admission to pro bono help. K&L attorneys and paralegals had spent bags of hours digging through the evidence. The amount of Van Engelen’s time abandoned was in the ballpark of $400,000.
Zonis never took the stand. He abhorrent the attorneys for agilely demography up too abundant time ytic Courtney and Jennifer, and introducing amaranthine emails that he said had annihilation to do with him. Van Engelen was disgusted: “He got his one big adventitious to acquaint his ancillary of the story, and he didn’t booty it,” she says. “This is somebody who’s actual able abaft a keyboard. And back the befalling arises to absolutely prove himself and be vindicated, he aloof folds like a flower.”
On Thursday, March 30, Van Engelen stood up to bear her closing argument. It was the aboriginal time she’d anytime done so in a absolute court.
She began by arena one of the voicemails that Zonis had accepted to leaving—“How does it feel to apperceive that I’m never, ever, anytime activity to stop?” Then she angry to the jury: “Someone needs to acquaint him to stop.” She declared Courtney’s everyman moment: activity for the gun. She reminded them of a bulletin able isolation, shame, and ridicule, and the email from Zonis’ claimed annual afterwards Courtney got a careful order: “Glad that babble allegorical action is out of the way.”
It was absurd to trace all of the aggravation anon to Zonis with cyberforensics, Van Engelen told the jury, so she encouraged them to additionally accede alliteration of capacity (like the sex toy he had sent) that were in both the bearding letters and voicemails from Zonis. She talked about the problems with the affirmation that Zonis had introduced.
“Do not,” Van Engelen concluded, “let this be addition babble allegorical gesture. Acquaint him to stop, authority him liable.”
HOW ONE WOMAN’S DIGITAL LIFE WAS WEAPONIZED AGAINST HER [Brooke Jarvis/Wired]
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