Lawmaker drops contentious plan to narrow stalking law
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah lawmaker is dropping a proposal to narrow the legal definition of stalking after the measure was widely opposed by victims and advocates.
Republican Rep. Candice Pierucci has said she will continue working to refine the bill and plans to bring back an updated version next year, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday.
Pierucci has said she decided to sponsor the bill after hearing about an unfair arrest of a Utah man who had contacted his ex-girlfriend twice, once in a letter saying he had no hard feelings and again to ask her to take a photo of his family off social media.
The man did not end up facing criminal charges but had to post bail to get out of jail and pay for an attorney, she said.
Pierucci said she dug into the issue and found the law was vague. So after studying with state criminal-justice officials, she proposed adding a requirement that the alleged acts have to show a “continuity of purpose.” She had originally proposed increasing the number of incidents to three, but changed that.
The bill was unanimously passed out of a House committee in late January but faced strong pushback from victims and advocates who say it’s already hard enough to pin down stalkers who can find and torment their victims in a multitude of ways, online and in person.
“We need more time,” Pierucci said on the House floor. “I think it’s really important that we get this right.”