Monday, April 26, 2010

Stalking & Googling Someone 40,000 Times = 16 Weeks in Jail

By Arthur Martin

An ‘obsessive’ TV producer who stalked a former classmate for more than seven years was jailed for just 16 weeks on Monday.

Elliot Fogel, 34, subjected Claire Waxman to an ‘unimaginable’ ordeal by following her, breaking into her car and making hundreds of late-night phone calls to her home.

A search of his computer revealed he had Googled his victim more than 40,000 times in one year. But despite a judge ruling that Fogel’s actions had caused ‘mental harm’ to his victim, a police source revealed that he could be free in as little as six weeks.

Mrs. Waxman, 34, a complementary therapist from North-West London, attacked the sentence as too short and called for tougher jail terms in stalking cases.
‘I will get a couple of months’ respite at best, but I am under no illusion that he will be out of jail soon and the harassment will start again,’ she said. ‘What we are looking at here is an obsessive person who is highly likely to reoffend.

'There is currently not an appropriate sentence for stalking. This obsession started 20 years ago and it’s not going to suddenly stop after a few weeks in jail.’

Wood Green Crown Court in North London heard how Fogel – a freelance producer at Sky Sports News and Capital Radio – first developed an unhealthy interest in Mrs Waxman while they were students at a college in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

She repeatedly told Fogel to leave her alone and, after leaving college in 1993, heard nothing more from him. However, ten years later, she received a dinner invitation from him, which she declined.

A few months later, in December 2003, Fogel, from Isleworth, West London, was spotted jogging on the spot outside her home and also began to spend increasing amounts of time hanging around her workplace.

Mrs Waxman told the court she felt ‘like a sitting duck’ as Fogel continued to follow her and make phone calls to her home.

After his arrest, a police search of his computer revealed he had also managed to get hold of Mrs Waxman’s wedding photographs and had a Google Earth aerial map of her home.

Further investigation found that he had paid for background searches to be carried out on Mrs Waxman’s husband Marc and her father, and that he had posed as a prospective parent at the nursery her daughter attended.

Jailing Fogel for 16 weeks after he admitted breaching a restraining order, Judge Fraser Morrison said:
‘Mrs Waxman wants some peace from you because you weren’t able to take the hint that any relationship you wanted with her was not going to take place.

‘You’re not an unintelligent man but you didn’t take the hint. She wants you out of her life.’

In a 16-page written impact statement to the court, Mrs Waxman described how she had suffered a miscarriage, developed an eating disorder, and had to move home five times as a result of her seven-year ordeal.
He has nothing in his life and all he chooses to do is pursue me and my family,’ she wrote. ‘Though there has been no physical harm, the mental harm of all these years is getting too heavy to bear.

‘My life has been ruined by this man in so many ways and yet no one can help us nor protect us.

'Instead of preventing something terrible from happening, I feel like we’re being left like sitting ducks waiting for something to happen.

‘He has said time and time again that he will leave me alone and yet never does. He still feels he is allowed to do what he wants because he has no moral compass.

‘He has no respect for me, my family, the law and I feel not even himself. Fogel is mentally unwell and has an obsession with me – he needs medical attention.’

Police have been unable to take tough action against Fogel because he has not made any physical threats to his victim. It means that officers have been able to use only anti-harassment laws to curb his campaign.

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