More Come Forward in UI Cyberstalking Case

posted by WMT News / KCRG-TV9 -

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- More victims are now coming forward claiming sexual misconduct by a University of Iowa student.

This comes after a tweet motivated hundreds of women in eastern Iowa to respond. They all say they felt harassed or cyberstalked by the same man. University of Iowa police says at least one more person has filed a police report against him.

Iowa City Police said an updated law loosens the restrictions on what constitutes as stalking, too.

"We handle harassment on, I would say, a daily basis," said Iowa City Police Sergeant Scott Stevens.

Stevens has been working with domestic violence victims for years.He said he knows the signs all too well and that the differences between harassment and stalking are few.

"It may not include threats, it may not include a context would cause a reasonable person fear. Whereas stalking includes the fear element," said Stevens."

Iowa law changed in March 2017 to include "what could cause a reasonable person" fear, instead of just fearing harm or their life. It's the one thing so many of the women say they felt when a University of Iowa student continued to message them on social media.

"It was honestly scary. I've never actually run into someone face to face (like that) and actually been scared for my life," said University of Iowa student Hannah Zepeda.

Zepeda said there were red flags almost immediately after interacting with him.

"Right off the bat I got a weird vibe because I wouldn't respond and after five minutes and he would be like "Why are you ignoring me? I was like, 'OK dude, I just met you.' I wasn't comfortable with that," said Zepeda.

So far, university police have received three reports in the case from two people, but dozens of women have shared stories of their encounters with him online. Zepeda is encouraging those who are speaking out to take it to a step where authorities can help.

"I encourage girls to report it and speak up because I wish I had when it was happening to me. If we don't do something about this now, there's going to be so many other girls that are affected," said Zepeda.

TV9 is still not naming the man at the center of this case since he hasn't been charged. The punishment for the first offense of stalking in Iowa is an aggravated misdemeanor, which is up two years in prison.

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