January 19

This Day in History

Crime

Jan 19, 1999:

Man charged in California cyberstalking case

A mere three weeks after California passed a law against cyberstalking, Gary Dellapenta is charged with using the Internet to solicit the rape of a woman who had rejected his advances. Dellapenta terrorized a North Hollywood woman by placing ads in her name that claimed she had rape fantasies and provided her address and instructions for disarming her security system. At least six men saw the Internet ads and came to the woman's home. Many more called with obscene messages.

On January 1, 1999, California had become the first state to ban cyberstalking, or stalking that involves electronic communications. Dellapenta went afoul of the new law by using the Internet to get back at the woman who had repeatedly rejected his romantic interest in her.

At first the woman had no idea why men were banging on her door in the middle of the night saying that they were there to rape her. When she finally learned about the Internet ads, she placed notes on her door explaining that the ads were false. However, Dellapenta then placed new ads saying that the notes were part of the fantasy. He was caught when the victim's father pretended to respond to the ads and traced their origin.

In April, Dellapenta pleaded guilty to one count of stalking and three counts of solicitation of sexual assault and received a six-year prison sentence.

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