Asking for Help and Subsequently Ignored by Law Enforcement, Woman Acquitted after Self-Defense Act against Revenge-Porn Stalker

San Francisco Hall of Justice – Photo by David M. Greenwald

By Isabella Walker

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A woman who faced felony assault charges for defending herself against a stalker was acquitted by a San Francisco Superior Court jury late last week.

According to the SF Public Defender’s Office, after friending her children on Facebook with a fake profile, a stalker sent an explicit video of him assaulting the woman to her children.

Deputy Public Defender Will Helvestine argued she lawfully acted in self-defense after the “police failed to take her stalking allegations seriously.” The woman—who hopes to protect her privacy—identifies herself as Maria, and was sexually violated by her stalker.

Three years ago, the defense said Maria had dated her stalker for a short time, and he began to follow her to her workplace every day and threatened her with leaking the video of their non-consensual meeting to her children unless she met him at his apartment.

After Maria entered his apartment, her stalker grabbed her and hit her. Maria feared he was planning on raping her, she said.

To escape the encounter, Maria used a kitchen knife and cut her stalker’s arm. The stalker’s neighbor got in the middle of the assault and the kitchen knife cut his hand. Local authorities arrested Maria, ignoring her explanation she acted in self-defense. Later, she was charged with two counts of felony assault.

SF Police Dept. assigned two Spanish interpreters to Maria’s interrogation, and the transcripts reveal their unlawful negligence toward Maria, her PD said, charging the two officers left out essential information and did not translate all of Maria’s responses as she tried to describe her stalker’s harassment and assaults against her.

Maria’s children testified in court and clarified that not only did the stalker send them revenge porn, but SFPD never contacted or followed up with Maria’s situation. Even Maria’s co-workers documented the level of  harassment by verifying the stalker’s daily visit to Maria’s workplace.

DPD Helvestine, after the verdict, said, “This egregious prosecution holds up an ugly mirror to the criminal justice system.”

He continued, “People who are clearly victims can end up being wrongly criminalized” if the police decide against investigating serious claims and prosecutors continue to utilize “half-truths in police reports” as the basis for their cases.

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju said Maria’s case is one of many backlog cases that were long overdue from being resolved.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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