The first person to be sentenced under the state's new felony "stalking" law was ordered jailed Tuesday by a Van Nuys judge who said the man went looking for his ex-girlfriend again as soon as he got out of a drug clinic.
Mark D. Bleakley, 30, a burly former carwash manager with a decade-long record of assault and weapons-possession charges, faces up to two more years in prison for violating the terms of his probation, which was imposed for violating the stalking law a first time. The law is aimed at deterring repeated harassment of victims. Sentencing is scheduled for April 8.
Five months ago, Superior Court Judge Judith M. Ashmann sentenced Bleakley to a year in prison for terrorizing former girlfriend Leslie Wein, 26, but gave him credit for the five months he already had spent in jail and said he could serve the remainder of the year in a locked drug-rehabilitation center. He also was placed on five years probation and ordered to leave Wein alone.
At his trial, he blamed his behavior on the long-term use of steroids and was sent to the Beit T'Shuvah center near downtown Los Angeles. Officials there allowed him leave after he said he had to go to a detailing shop to pick up his car Feb. 21. While he was away from the center, he was he was arrested for again stalking his ex-girlfriend.
"The first time there was a gap in supervision," the judge said, "Mr. Bleakley swooshed right through the gap."
Ashmann ruled that Bleakley violated his probation by searching the parking lot of the Mid-Valley Athletic Club in Reseda, where both he and Wein had been members, looking for her car.
Bleakley testified that he was was checking the window tinting of a Honda in the athletic club lot when he was confronted by club employees.
Bleakley was "trying to track down his victim again," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Schuit.
Police said that before the new stalking law became effective Jan. 1, 1991, there was little they could do about complaints of harassment.
To support a felony stalking conviction, the law requires that prosecutors prove that a suspect repeatedly threatened a victim or vandalized the victim's property, in violation of a civil court order to stop.
Wein, who did not attend Tuesday's hearing, said Bleakley began to terrorize her shortly after she broke off their two-year relationship in April. She filed 13 police reports in the case, accusing him of twice slashing her car's tires and twice pouring acid on the vehicle.
Court records also show that he stole her German shepherd dog from her house, then left photographs of the dog on cars parked outside her residence. She obtained a court order forbidding Bleakley from annoying or going near her, but two tires were slashed on her rented car a short time later.
As she was giving information to police at the scene May 24, officers saw Bleakley nearby, enabling them to charge him with violating the stalking law. He pleaded no contest to a stalking charge, the equivalent of a guilty plea for criminal court purposes.
A state Department of Justice representative said Tuesday that statistics were unavailable on arrests or convictions under the stalking law.
But Sen. Edward R. Royce (D-Fullerton), who authored the law, said he was aware of five cases in addition to Bleakley's, including cases in Downey, Huntington Park and Orange County. Royce said he introduced a bill in January that calls for the penalty for second offenders to be raised from three to six years.
Times staff writer Mark Gladstone in Sacramento contributed to this story.