OPINION AND EDITORIAL
THE GAPING FLAW IN THE WASH. STATE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT THAT PUTS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AT RISK
October 13, 2014
Chronicle News & Opinion
There is a terrible flaw, a gaping and dangerous loophole in the Washington State Public Records Act (PRA) that puts women, children and men at risk.
It can bring years of misery for entire families.
This is one of two loopholes in the PRA that "mainstream" newspapers and wire services will never tell you about:
You or anyone else can use the PRA, starting today if you want, to gather information on a person or persons and use that information to stalk and terrorize them for years on end - based upon real life situations the Sky Valley Chronicle has seen to date - and nobody will come to arrest you or bother you in any way.
Nut cases can legally get away with this trick year after year. It can be great fun. Look at it as a sort of legal drug addiction for psychopaths like say, crack, only they never get busted for this drug.
How do we know that? The Chronicle has had long conversations with people who live in Snohomish County and who have been stalked by psychos who use the PRA as a weapon and they are ALL still waiting for their tormentors to be arrested, let alone charged and brought to justice.
They are all still waiting for the cavalry to show up to help them. The Chronicle is the only newspaper in the state to have reported on this.
We've seen the PRA obtained documents the tormentors have sent victims or posted on the Internet to hurt them, and these PRA armed tormenters have never been cited, never been arrested, never been held accountable by authorities and this despite the fact that complaints were made to cops, sheriff's deputies and courts where people went to get restraining orders.
NO ONE WILL COME TO YOUR AID
Nothing happened to these abusers of the PRA and this despite the fact that some of these stalkers have been breaking the Washington State law on cyber-stalking in clear view of authorities publicly on the Internet day after day, year after year for at least half a dozen years that we count. These people thumb their noses at the law every day.
So not only does the PRA hurt innocent people, the laws already on the books designed to protect them aren't even enforced in some cases.
Nobody in officialdom - despite complaints to cops, courts, sheriff's deputies, other public agencies, the Washington State Bar Association and God Almighty - lifted a finger to help the victims of PRA abuse that the Chronicle has spoken with. Nobody.
The Public Records Act in this state is the finest weapon ever handed to stalkers and cyber stalkers.
Stalkers can use it as a blunt force frontal attack weapon or with slick surgical precision or both if they want to mix things up. It's fun, fun, fun for the entire family...if the family happens to be comprised of psychopaths.
ANYBODY USING THE PRA CAN GET TO YOU, YOUR KIDS, YOUR WHOLE FAMILY
So you say you're hiding from an abusive ex-husband or partner who beat you so bad once he/she almost killed you? Here's news for you kiddo. If he or she knows how to use the PRA and you are still in this state, odds are huge he or she will find you and pick up where he/she left off because almost everyone is in some city, county or state database somewhere.
Everybody leaves a trail. Do you vote? You just gave up your location to the man/woman you're hiding from. Have a driver's license? Ever been arrested? Ever got a parking ticket? Ever wrote a letter to any public agency? Ever sent an email to town hall? Ever have a messy divorce where your ex accused you of being a child beater or child molester even though the accusation was investigated and found to be untrue?
Then you're hosed because a psycho can take that lie - just the unproven accusation in a public document - and splash it all over the Internet.
They can mail and email poison pen copies to your boss, to other family members, to friends, to professional associates.
That's actually been done in this state, the Sky Valley Chronicle has discovered. And what happened to the human scum who used that PRA obtained false accusation in that way?
Nothing. Not a thing. This stalker is still at it today as this is written.
There will be no cop on the beat to protect you if an ex who is an abuser or just some nut that gets fixated on you and/or your child, from using the PRA as a weapon to torment you and your family for years from what we've seen in real life cases of such abuse.
This publication knows that because it has gone to the trouble to interview victims of all of the above and more. Trust us on this: you have no clue what a nut case can do to you and your family thanks to this state's Public Records Act.
All of what we know about what can be done using the PRA we will never print because the last thing we desire is to give a nutcase any ideas.
But you can use your imagination about the various ways that someone can own you armed with such information. Someone with no job to lose. Someone who does not care about their own reputation. Someone who has no shame or remorse or empathy -- in other words, a psychopath.
One woman we interviewed, who does not want her name used for obvious reasons, has been stalked and tormented since about 2007 by a psycho who as made vast use of the state public records act as the primary stalking weapon.
HOW STALKING, USING THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT AS A LAUNCHING PAD CAN BEGIN
This victim first met the stalker - not knowing the stalker was a nutcase - casually when the victim was part of a small town government for a while.
In her first meeting circa 2006 with a woman who later would turn out to be her years-long tormentor, the woman told the victim she'd had a "mental breakdown" after her mother's death.
"And she told me that this was a severe mental breakdown and she was hospitalized...struck me as a little odd but I thought, well it takes all kinds," the victim told the Chronicle during a long interview in 2013.
Looking back, that statement about being hospitalized by a "mental breakdown" would take on new meaning for the victim as time went by.
Here is how easy and out of the blue - using the PRA, emails and the Internet - stalking begins.
The victim told the Chronicle that after that one brief meeting she had little contact with the woman. Over time, the woman who said she had been hospitalized after a mental breakdown let the victim know she did not care for how the victim was doing her job in the town.
Things began to go south with emails circa 2007 being sent by the stalker to various people using untruths in the emails to damage the victim's reputation and cast the victim in a poor light with associates. Other things began to happen as well.
By June 2008 the victim says she knew this was something serious, some type of stalking she needed to be concerned with when the stalker contacted the employer the victim worked for.
A poison pen email, using a false name, was sent to the victim's employer accusing her of breaking the law in a particular way. The victim says the charges were false but that she was stunned anyone would do such a thing.
What horrible sin had the victim committed, she thought to herself, to have made such an enemy? An enemy that would try to harm her employment?
Then the victim found out that similar emails had gone out to her husband's family, her husband's employees where he works and to their six year old daughter. Yes, the stalker even wanted to hurt the six-year old child to get to the parents.
"And these were private email addresses that had only been obtained through public records requests," the victim told the Chronicle.
Later the floodgates opened. The stalker made PRA request after request and began to harass and torment the woman, her husband and essentially the entire family on blogs, Twitter accounts, in emails and in many other ways that are simply beyond all human decency.
The abuse, by what appears to be based on behavior a very sick, evil, angry and twisted individual got bigger and stranger and more close to home until the entire family feared for their physical safety.
BEING AFRAID FOR YOUR CHILDREN, BEING AFRAID FOR YOUR FAMILY
They had no clue what this scary person was capable of in terms of doing them physical harm and to this day they do not know. They never let their guard down. They cannot afford to. Stalkers have been known to be nonviolent for years until one day...when they are not nonviolent anymore.
This family was forced to have a meeting with school offcials where their daughter went to school - yes the stalker found out through a wonderful PRA request where the daughter attended school - to let school officials know to never let their daughter go with anyone who might show up at the school claiming to be a family friend or relative.
And yes, there were family safety meetings at the house on what to do if anyone came there to harm them. Welcome to living with fear and anxiety -- and with damned good reasons.
This abuse by a sick, evil stalker continues to this day thanks to that large loophole in the Washington State Public Records Act that the stalker knows can be used with impunity.
The stalker knows there will be no cop anywhere that will protect this family, no prosecutor anywhere that will enforce the state's anti-cyber stalking law, no help anywhere.
The Washington State Public Records Act is the best friend and most dangerous weapon a stalker could ever have.
And you can thank your legislators in Olympia for they allowed to be built into the fabric of this law no protections for anyone in the public against stalkers making PRA requests and using the material in any way they see fit.
THERE MUST BE LAWS TO PROTECT FAMILIES
Oh. You say there must be plenty of other laws on the books that can protect victims?
No there are not. This was the big surprise to every one we talked with, at least half a dozen individuals that were stalked by someone using public records requests.
The Chronicle has found that even though there are laws on the books, no one has used them when it comes to the victims we have spoken with - no one in officialdom even offered to use them - to protect these people.
Would you care to know what you might be told should a psycho like the one described above decide to use the PRA act to come after your family?
Someone, somewhere in an official capacity may tell you, "Gosh, this is just a civil matter. Why not go find about $30,000 lying around the house and file a civil lawsuit against your stalker. Next."
Keep this in mind at all times: the PRA has no protections built into it to help a victim once a stalker begins using PRA requests as the primary weapon of a stalking campaign. At least no protections that worked in the cases we have examined.
You are on your own, as the victims above found out.
So anywhere your child has an email address, a phone number or a home address in a public records database - or if your child goes to a private school that gets some public funding which then opens up a PRA search - watch out.
A stalker can easily use the PRA to find out all sorts of things about your children including where they go to school, their home address, even phone numbers and email addresses.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU END UP IN THE CROSSHAIRS
You and your child could someday be in the crosshairs of a very sick and twisted individual who has designs on placing you and/or your entire family on the receiving end of some very scary, very bad times simply by legally using the PRA as a version of legal snooping into your past or present which then can easily be used as a weapon to harm you, your reputation, your employment, all sorts of things.
The sky is the limit.
You say you were involved in a messy divorce many years ago? You have no idea how that information can come back today to haunt you, cause you misery and maybe even threaten your job.
You could be held for years hostage to fear and anxiety not knowing what the stalker has in mind for you or your child or your whole family as the stalker continues to gather...gather...gather all sorts of information about you and your family through the public records act and then use it in any number of ways to make your life a living hell.
There is your swell Washington State Public Records Act.