'This . . . never stops,' says stalking victim Council considers harassment bill

February 19, 1993|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

For almost two years after Cathy Rone broke up with her boyfriend, he followed her, threatened her, vandalized her car and beat her. Last week, his new girlfriend charged that Ms. Rone tried to kill her. That charge was dropped when police decided the report was false.

Today, Ms. Rone, 27, gets to tell her story to Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., who is to decide whether to put her old boyfriend, William Edward Kennedy, in jail for violating the terms of his probation.

Kennedy, 35, of Harrington, Del., was placed on five years' probation last November after he was convicted of assault and battery for burning Ms. Rone, of Linthicum, with a cigarette and beating her two months earlier.

Kennedy denied those charges yesterday, claiming he pleaded guilty rather than risk the verdict of a jury that might not believe him because he had a drug conviction.

He and his new girlfriend, Reba Macklin, have been charged in Delaware with filing a false report, state police there said.

Ms. Rone's charges against Kennedy appear to fit the outline of a bill County Councilman Edward C. Middlebrooks, a Severn Democrat, introduced Wednesday night to outlaw stalking.

The measure would prohibit harassment by sending threatening cards or letters, by issuing direct threats or by following a person. Violators could be jailed for six months or fined as much as $1,000.

"A lot of this stems from relationships, when you have one party that doesn't want to let go. To the person who's going through this, it's traumatic," Mr. Middlebrooks said. "What I'm trying to accomplish with this law is to prevent a situation where someone would put themselves in a position where they would do harm to another, to prevent it before it happens."

Last month, the Annapolis city council enacted its own anti-stalking bill, which also sets a $1,000 fine and six month jail sentence.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly is considering sevestatewide anti-stalking measures. An existing harassment law "has no teeth," complained Carolyn Rodis, an aide to Sen. Janice Piccinini, a Baltimore County Democrat.

"It requires the victim to ask the accused to stop," Ms. Rodisaid.

Carol McNally, one of Ms. Rone's co-workers, said Kennedy often called their office demanding to speak to Ms. Rone after the couple broke up.

Last May, fed up with the phone calls and shaken by a confrontation with Kennedy, Ms. Rone filed telephone harassment charges.

According to the charging documents, Kennedy followed her to a Glen Burnie tanning salon where he told her he would get her fired from her job and grabbed her, refusing to let go. He allegedly used her telephone calling card to make at least $436.53 in long distance calls he has not paid for, the charging documents say.

Those charges later were placed on the inactive docket and Kennedy was never prosecuted.

Ms. Rone filed the assault charges last September after an incident in which Kennedy used his car to to block hers in her driveway, then burned her with a cigarette.

But the conviction and resulting probation have done little to stop the harassment, she said.

The incident that led to Ms. Rone's arrest began Feb. 10 when a woman who said she needed to talk to Ms. Rone about Kennedy left messages at her office.

Ms. Rone said she called the number her co-workers gave her, but hung up when she recognized Kennedy's voice on the other end of the line.

Later that night, a woman called Ms. Rone's office again and told a receptionist that Ms. Rone's sister had been in an accident in Kent County in Delaware. The receptionist passed the message along to Ms. Rone, who recognized the phone number as the same one she had called earlier.

The next day, she was arrested on charges that she tried to shoot Ms. Macklin.

Ms. Rone spent five hours in a holding cell at the Glen Burnie state police barracks before she could prove she had been at work at the time the alleged shooting was supposed to have taken place.

Ms. Rone said she is planning to move out of her home.

"This just never stops," she said.

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