Cyberstalking is no joke. It can be unsettling and frightening to the person being targeted, but apparently it isn’t a big enough concern, as a federal judge has ruled in favor of a man accused of cyberstalking Buddhist leader Alyce Zeoli.
According to CNN.com, William Lawrence Cassidy, the man accused of cyberstalking Zeoli, posted over 8,000 hateful tweets against Zeoli, which included messages prophesying what NYTimes.com called her “violent death.”
PCMag.com reported that despite the fact that Cassidy is a California resident and Zeoli a Maryland resident, the Buddhist leader claimed to have experienced “substantial emotional distress,” causing her to fear being outside of her home, which she refused to leave, unless she was going to her psychiatrist.
However, Judge Roger W. Titus ruled, in a 27-page order, that “while Mr. Cassidy’s speech may have inflicted substantial emotional distress, the government’s indictment here is directed squarely at protected speech: anonymous, uncomfortable Internet speech addressing religious matters,” he said via NYTimes.com.
Judge Titus also noted that since Zeoli published a book in 2000, she is considered a public figure, which means that Cassidy’s comments didn’t pose a “true threat,” CNN.com said.
The news site also reported that Cassidy and Zeoli were friends in 2007, but “had a falling out.”