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Wayne Co. judge recounts terror of online stalking

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Wayne County Judge Vonda Evans has sentenced some of Metro Detroit’s most dangerous criminals in her courtroom but nothing could have prepared her for the fear she says she felt from a cyber stalker.

Evans said she was stalked by an Indiana man in his early 30s on Twitter and Facebook. She said she discovered Saturday he had been stalking her since nearly the beginning of July.

According to the judge, the man sent her sexually explicit and graphic tweets, including tweeting the judge a photo of his genitalia.

Evans said the incident was terrifying and the next day when she went to walk her dog, she was reminded of the man.

“When I would see a man, I thought ‘Is that him?’ ” Evans said Tuesday. “I literally was terrorized.”

The suspect’s social media pages also indicated that he had a lot of friends in Detroit. The judge said she became concerned because she initially thought he might be living in Detroit.

“It freaked me out at that point,” said Evans. “He was trying to call me on the phone via (social media).”

The judge later found out her alleged stalker was from Indiana and reported him to Twitter.

After warning the man to stop his tweets to her, the judge went to Detroit Police Chief James Craig on Saturday evening.

Police spokesman Michael Woody said the incident is being investigated.

She said even though the man apologized for the offensive tweets and posts, he started following her again under another name.

Evans, 52, said police learned the man was sent to Atlanta to live with his brother because his parents could not take care of him due to some mental issues.

The judge said she has learned that neither the man nor his brother have criminal records and that the suspect does not have access to a car or a cellphone.

No arrest warrant has been issued against the man and Atlanta police have promised to watch the man, the judge said.

“I felt confident enough to say, ‘let’s monitor this,’ ” said Evans. “I believe the totality of this is that he was not a danger.”

But Evans said she wanted to go public with her story to warn other people, especially women, about stalking because “so many people are suffering in silence.”

“Stalking is so very powerful and the fear takes over you,” said Evans. “I wanted to speak up and out. I’m now on a one-woman crusade ... if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.”

Evans said she will keep her social media accounts active.

“Social media is a platform for me to empower and inspire people,” said Evans, who added that she is not going to allow a stalker to win by forcing her to abandon her online presence.

“I will not be silenced,” she said.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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