Some law enforcement officials use the term cyber stalking.
Some victim advocates call it rape by proxy.
Both terms focus on a growing social media threat: stealing someone’s identity, usually a woman’s, and then posing as the person online to stalk and threaten them. WJLA TV says a Prince George’s County ex-husband posed as his former wife online to solicit sex and encourage someone to rape her, sending strangers to her door.
And these actions aren’t a crime.
Which is why Prince George’s County prosecutors and sexual assault advocates were at the Maryland State House Thursday, urging delegates to follow the Senate’s lead and pass a law making what they call rape by proxy a felony, punishable by up to 20 years behind bars.
Michael Johnson was sentenced in July to 115 years in prison after prosecutors say he posed as his ex-wife on the Internet to solicit sex. Angell Williams and her children lived in fear as hundreds of men showed up at their home over a 45-day period in 2012.
The men were sent to her home by fake online profiles created by Johnson, claiming to be his ex-wife, even posting pictures of Williams and the children with their address, one titled “rape me and my children.”
Assistant State's Attorney Christina Ropella prosecuted Michael Johnson on several misdemeanors for Prince George’s County.
“They can hide behind a keyboard, they feel more anonymous, they feel braver than someone would have to work up the courage to go commit the offense, but it’s absolutely just as devastating and dangerous to the victims of these crimes. It can destroy their lives.”