The Haven Project sponsors informational panel on stalking

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Did you know one in four women and one in 13 men report being victims of stalking in his or her lifetime? In light of this, and other troubling facts about stalking, The Haven Project set out to educate people on the dangers and realities of the issue Wednesday night in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building.

“Computers, tablets, phones and even gaming systems have been used in cyber stalking,” said Paul Greggs of the IUP IT security office.

Greggs said his main job is to keep the people of IUP safe online, and he has worked on several cyber-stalking cases during his time in the position.

However, Greggs has his work cut out for him, with the number of devices on the campus WiFi increasing daily.

Patrick McDevitt, IUP Student Affairs representative and member of the Academic Computing Advisory Committee, also spoke at the presentation.

McDevitt, with more than 20 years of experience at IUP, explained the dangers of cyber-stalking through social media.

He explained how posts to apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can easily lead a predator to your exact location. Turning off location-based services and thinking before posting are McDevitt’s biggest pieces of advice.

Detective John Scherf, who has made an arrest in an Indiana stalking case, also attended the panel.

“My best advice for people is to use the 24-hour police service that your taxes pay for,” Scherf said. “We are bored a few hours a day. If you have a question whether something is a crime or not, give us a call.

“We will do our best to answer your question. It is no bother at all.”

Whitney Mottorn, community resource coordinator of the Alice Paul House, explained the process of what happens when a stalking victim comes to them.

“We play the bus driver role,” Mottorn said.

“We will go as far as the client wants. If that means counseling, a 24-hour shelter or contacting the authorities, we can help.”

Indiana District Attorney Patrick Dougherty closed the panel with the legal side of stalking.

“Stalking is a dangerous way the predator tries to take control of a person and their life by inflicting fear,” Dougherty said.

A first offense of stalking is a misdemeanor, according to Dougherty.

Guilty parties can serve a maximum of five years in prison. On second offense, it is a felony with a maximum of seven years.