Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bill to Put More Teeth in Stalking Law

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bill to Put More Teeth in Stalking Law

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- The call from the middle school assistant

principal was every parent's worst fear: A stranger posing as a

relative had tried to get Marilyn Adamo's daughter out of

school.

But the abduction attempt was only the beginning of her

nightmare.

Over the next few weeks, Adamo talked with police and went to

court in hopes of stopping the man as he telephoned and trailed

her 13-year-old daughter from home to school and back. Arresting

the man wouldn't have helped, because he would have quickly made

bond on misdemeanor stalking charges, she said, and a judge

rejected the family's pleas for a restraining order.

"I never believed in weapons in the house," said Adamo, of West

Kendall, a Miami suburb. "But since that occurrence, my father

left us a shotgun. We sleep with a shotgun under the bed every

night."

Jennifer Adamo wasn't hurt, and the stalker is no longer

considered a threat. But a pair of House and Senate measures

named after the eighth-grader would give Florida's five-year-old

stalking law a bigger bite.

The "Jennifer Act" would make stalking children under 16 a

third-degree felony. Right now the stalking of adults or

children is a felony in Florida only if a "credible" threat of

harm or death is made or a court has ordered someone to avoid

contact with the victim.

Anyone willfully, maliciously and repeatedly harassing a

teenager could spend up to 13 1/2 months in prison, and remain

under state supervision for five years under terms of the

measure, said Omar Franco, legislative assistant to Sen. Mario

Diaz-Balart, a sponsor of the measure.

The Senate gave unanimous final approval to the bill Thursday

after strong endorsements from House and Senate committees.

Franco said the bill is expected to win approval in the House

and could reach the desk of Gov. Lawton Chiles early next month.

Chiles strongly supports the bill and is likely to sign it,

said April Herrle, his spokeswoman. …

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