The Day Hollywood Woke Up

TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF MURDER OF REBECCA SCHAEFFER

 

On this day in 1989, 21-year old Rebecca Schaeffer, the co-star of the sitcom My Sister Sam, was shot to death in her home by an obsessed fan.  The fan was able to hire an investigator to obtain the actress’ home address from DMV records, after learning that stalker who stabbed Theresa Saldana had done the same.

The death of a promising young star is not a rare occurrence in Hollywood but Schaeffer’s death came as a shock.  Spurred by Schaeffer’s death, California enacted the nation’s first criminal stalking law which provides, in part, that

 Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.

In 1994, Congress passed the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)  to protect the privacy of personal information assembled by State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) in response to the Schaeffer murder.  The DPPA prohibits the release or use by any State DMV (or any officer, employee, or contractor thereof) of personal information about an individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record. It sets penalties for violations and makes violators liable on a civil action to the individual to whom the released information pertains.

According to the Stalking Resource Center, the following state’s have criminal anti-stalking laws:

In addition, the following states permit civil actions against stalkers:

At the federal level, stalking is defined as:

Whoever– (1) travels in interstate or foreign commerce or is present within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or enters or leaves Indian country, with the intent to kill, injure, harass, intimidate, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person, and in the course of, or as a result of, such travel or presence engages in conduct that–

(A) places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to- (i) that person; (ii) an immediate family member (as defined in section 115) of that person; or (iii) a spouse or intimate partner of that person; or

(B) causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to a person described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of subparagraph (A); or (2) with the intent to kill, injure, harass, intimidate, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person, uses the mail, any interactive computer service or electronic communication service or electronic communication system of interstate commerce, or any other facility of interstate or foreign commerce to engage in a course of conduct that– (A) places that person in reasonable fear of the death of or serious bodily injury to a person described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of paragraph (1)(A); or (B) causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to a person described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of paragraph (1)(A)

In addition, the following states have enacted cyber harassment laws:

State/Territory Cyberstalking Cyberharassment
Alabama Ala. Code § 13A-11-8
Alaska  Alaska Stat. §§ 11.41.260, 11.41.270
Arizona   Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-2923 Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-291613-2921
Arkansas  Ark. Code § 5-41-108  Ark. Code § 5-41-108
California  Cal. Civil Code § 1708.7, Cal Penal Code § 646.9 Cal. Penal Code §§ 422,  653.2,  653m
Colorado  Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-60218-9-111  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-9-111
Connecticut   Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-181d (2012 Public Act 114), 53a-183  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-182b53a-183
Delaware   Del. Code tit. 11 § 1311
Florida  Fla. Stat. § 784.048  Fla. Stat. § 784.048
Georgia  Georgia Code § 16-5-90
Hawaii  Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 711-1106
Idaho  Idaho Stat. §§ 18-790518-7906
Illinois  720 ILCS §§ 5/12-7.35/12-7.5, 740 ILCS21/10 720 ILCS §§ 135/1-2135/1-3135/2
Indiana  Ind. Code § 35-45-2-2
Iowa   Iowa Code § 708.7
Kansas Kan. Stat. § 21-3438
Kentucky  Ky. Rev. Stat. § 508.130 to .150
Louisiana La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:40.214:40.3
Maine  Me. Rev. Stat. tit 17A § 210A (see 2007 Me. Laws, Ch. 685, sec. 3)
Maryland     Md. Code tit. 3 § 3-805 (2013 H.B. 396, Chapter 369)
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265 § 43  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265 § 43A
Michigan  Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 750.411h750.411i  Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.411s
Minnesota  Minn. Stat. § 609.749  Minn. Stat. § 609.795
Mississippi  Miss. Code §§ 97-45-1597-45-1797-3-107  Miss. Code § 97-29-45
Missouri  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.225  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.090
Montana Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-220  Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-213
Nebraska*  Neb. Rev. Stat.§ 28-311.02  Neb. Rev. Stat.§ 28-311.02
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.575
New Hampshire   N.H. Rev. Stat. § 644:4
New Jersey  N.J. Stat. § 2C:12-10, 2C:12-10.1
New Mexico*  N.M. Stat. § 30-3A-3
New York   New York Penal Law § 240.30
North Carolina  N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-196.3  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-196(b)
North Dakota     N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-17-07
Ohio  Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.211  Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2917.21(A),2913.01(Y)
Oklahoma  Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1173  Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1172
Oregon  Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 163.730 to 163.732  Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.065
Pennsylvania  Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. § 18 2709.1  Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 18 § 2709(a), 2709(f)
Rhode Island  R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 8-8.1-111-52-4.2,  R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-52-4.2
South Carolina S.C. Code §§ 16-3-1700(C), 16-3-1700(F)  S.C. Code §§ 16-3-1700(B), 16-3-1700(C)16-17-430
South Dakota S.D. Cod. Laws § 22-19A-1  S.D. Cod. Laws § 49-31-31
Tennessee Tenn. Code § 39-17-315  Tenn. Code § 39-17-308
Texas  Tx. Penal Code § 33.07
Utah Utah Code § 76-5-106.5  Utah Code § 76-9-201
Vermont  Vt. Stat. tit. 13 §§ 106110621063 Vt. Stat. tit. 13 § 1027
Virginia  Va. Code § 18.2-60  Va. Code § 18.2-152.7:1 
Washington Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9A.46.1109.61.260  Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9A.46.020,10.14.020
West Virginia    W. Va. Code § 61-3C-14a
Wisconsin  Wis. Stat. § 947.0125
Wyoming  Wyo. Stat. § 6-2-506 

 

It is fair to say that Schaeffer’s tragic death was a wake up call that spurred Washington and Sacramento into action and there are many people who are alive today because of that.