WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews today said that stalking laws need to be stiffened and punishments increased.
Klobuchar will introduce a bill today that would increase maximum punishments by five years of jail time if the offense violates a protection order or by 10 years if the victim of the offense is less than 18 years old.
The bill would call on the attorney general to evaluate efforts to enforce anti-stalking laws and put together a report to be used by prosecutors working on these cases. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California and it has Republican co-sponsors.
“Stalking is one of the most invasive-violating crimes a person can commit, yet it is also one of the most difficult to prove and the trickiest to prosecute,” Klobuchar said. “We have to get our laws up to speed and up to date technologically.”
Andrews said: “I have seen with my own eyes through first-hand experience that the laws have been taken way too lightly. They aren’t clear and they have not kept up with technology or the time.”
Andrews was the victim of a stalking incident in 2009 when a man videotaped her through a peephole while she was nude in her hotel room. He later posted the video online and tried to sell it to TMZ.com. The man pleaded guilty and received 30 months in prison and was ordered to register as a sex offender.
Klobuchar said her experience as a prosecutor led her to get involved with the legislation.
“I’ve had cases, on not just stalking, where local prosecutors try to figure out what to do, and it’s a nightmare,” Klobuchar said. “We didn’t have the right tools because the laws weren’t as sophisticated as the crimes that were being committed, and that’s what this is about.”
Lauren Knobbe is an intern in MinnPost’s D.C. Bureau