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Online Threat of Rape by Proxy Should Be Crime, Say Prosecutors

Prince George's County prosecutors and victim advocates urged the Maryland House this week to make rape by proxy -- posing as someone online to stalk and threaten them -- a felony.

Prosecutors and victim advocates lobbied the Maryland House this week to make rape by proxy -- posing as someone online to stalk and threaten them -- should be a felony. File|Patch
Prosecutors and victim advocates lobbied the Maryland House this week to make rape by proxy -- posing as someone online to stalk and threaten them -- should be a felony. File|Patch

Some law enforcement officials use the term cyber stalking.

Some victim advocates call it rape by proxy.

Both terms focus on a growing social media threat: stealing someone’s identity, usually a woman’s, and then posing as the person online to stalk and threaten them. WJLA TV says a Prince George’s County ex-husband posed as his former wife online to solicit sex and encourage someone to rape her, sending strangers to her door.

And these actions aren’t a crime.

Which is why Prince George’s County prosecutors and sexual assault advocates were at the Maryland State House Thursday, urging delegates to follow the Senate’s lead and pass a law making what they call rape by proxy a felony, punishable by up to 20 years behind bars.

Michael Johnson was sentenced in July to 115 years in prison after prosecutors say he posed as his ex-wife on the Internet to solicit sex. Angell Williams and her children lived in fear as hundreds of men showed up at their home over a 45-day period in 2012.

The men were sent to her home by fake online profiles created by Johnson, claiming to be his ex-wife, even posting pictures of Williams and the children with their address, one titled “rape me and my children.”

Assistant State's Attorney Christina Ropella prosecuted Michael Johnson on several misdemeanors for Prince George’s County. 

“They can hide behind a keyboard, they feel more anonymous, they feel braver than someone would have to work up the courage to go commit the offense, but it’s absolutely just as devastating and dangerous to the victims of these crimes. It can destroy their lives.”

Abigaill Tomsen March 01, 2014 at 04:41 PM
There was no actual rape, so I don't see how you can call it that. It should be a crime - starting with identity theft and/or hooliganism, but it's not like it's a crime for hire. So let me get this right - if instead the imposter calls people to a bank the victim works at and says hold me up and I'll go along .... is that bank robbery by proxy?
Beege Marshall March 02, 2014 at 02:39 AM
Abigaill .... you say, "But it's not like a crime for hire" ???!!!! WTH are you talking about ? This is the same as "solicitation of murder", only it's RAPE !! This "FATHER" was advertising on the INTERNET for people to go and "RAPE his wife, ..... and CHILDREN" it says !!! This so called "father" is a psychopathic monster !! Advertising to have someone/strangers rape your wife is horrific enough, but your CHILDREN too ??!! And the type who would have responded would also very probably be liable to kill and murder. Geezus people !! WTH is common sense today in your responses ??!!
Iris Dandi March 02, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Unbelievable that most posters are nit-picking about a word, and not focussing on the crime. The article says that law-enforce ment calls it cyber stalking, which does not cover the crime detailed of the man soliciting attacks on is family, but I think that the advocacy group means it in the sense that some of the stalkers do not do the rape themselves, but encourage others to do it. In a broader sense it could reference attacks or violation of a person using terror of a sexual nature. I agree that it is an emotional descriptor, but from what I have read, a lot of this kind of stalking presents the victime as some sort of slut, available for sex or rape, or a ho etc.
Jamie Adair March 03, 2014 at 04:57 AM
Not rape but really bad. That is a good way to someone hurt and if you do it to someone you need to be locked up for a long time. This type of stuff is not a joke.
djbj March 03, 2014 at 11:06 AM
115 years? What a joke! Had that defendant been a woman she would've gotten a year or two of probation. I am disgusted with the wording and examples in this article acting as if men are the only one doing this crap. I know 5x as many women that stalk/threaten their exboyfriends/exhusbands than the other way around. I am sick of the double standard in family & civil court when it comes to a man vs woman domestic issue. Completely unacceptable. We need a Violence against men act! Sentence these abusive women to the same 30, 50, 60 year sentences for a simple assault.

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