Local News

Women Aren't the Only Victims of Stalking

Posted June 30, 1998

— The woman arrested for stalking Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer, was set free because she in not competent to stand trial. There was nothing to stop Valerie Daye from trying to contact him again and now, apparently, she's tried.

Daye was released from Dorothea Dix Hospital this week. The district attorney's office says, unless a threatening pattern persists, the mayor will have no recourse against the woman.

Statistics show that nearly 1.5 million people are stalked every year in this country and that women are usually the victims. But thousands are men are also stalked. Especially if those who hold powerful jobs or enjoy celebrity status.

Psychologists say stalkers are drawn to that kind of power. Justice Department statistics show that one in every 12 women will eventually be stalked. About 80 percent of those will be threatened or harassed by an ex-husband or former boyfriend.

"It's real scary when you don't know which street corner they're around," said Marie French, of INTERACT. "You don't know what parking lot they may be in. You don't know what window they may be looking through. Its real scary."

INTERACT is a United Way agency that offers crisis counseling and support to thousands of domestic violence victims, but not all stalking victims are women or former lovers.

Movie director Steven Spielberg and talk show host David Letterman are celebrities whose stalkers were arrested and sent to jail. Now, Fetzer can be added to the list. The difference in his case is that nothing stops his alleged stalker, Valerie Daye, from harassing him again.

"Because he's such a high profile person in our community, it's actually increased awareness about stalking for our entire community," said French. "That is something positive that can come out of something negative and also dangerous situation."

Recent changes in the law have made it a little easier to prosecute stalkers, but it's still very difficult to keep the accused behind bars. Police say you need to prove there is a pattern of emotional or physical threats.

Restraining orders are not fool proof, but they can help building that evidence.

Mayor Fetzer has found there's a loophole in the law. Since Valerie Daye was found not competent to stand trial or a threat to herself or anyone else, she is a free woman.

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