President Clinton signed Rep. Ed Royce’s anti-stalker bill into law Monday, making it a federal crime to cross state lines with the intent to stalk or harass someone.
“There are thousands of people trying to escape stalkers by moving to another state, but there hasn’t been any protection for them when they are followed. . . . Now there is,” a buoyant Royce told reporters after an Oval Office bill signing.
The Fullerton Republican has been working to get the bill passed since he joined Congress four years ago.
The anti-stalking provision was included in the $256.6-billion defense authorization bill at the urging of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). Her successful maneuver helped speed Royce’s bill to the president’s desk this year by avoiding potentially damaging amendments in the Senate.
Clinton hailed the anti-stalker law before signing it.
“Today, we say loud and clear, if you stalk and harass, the law will follow you wherever you go. And if you are the victim of stalking and want to build a new life somewhere else, you will have the full protection of federal law,” Clinton said.
For the first time, Royce’s law makes it a felony for a stalker to pursue someone into another state even if there is no court order against the stalker. The law mandates a five-year sentence, 20 years if an injury occurs.
If death results, than the guilty person will receive a sentence of life in prison.
Royce is considered a champion for anti-stalking laws. In 1990, Royce sponsored the nation’s first statewide law designed to protect stalking victims and making it a crime punishable by four-years in prison.
Once Royce’s law took effect, the rest of the nation followed.
But Royce discovered that stalkers often pursue a person from one state to another.
“When a victim crosses a state line or goes on federal property to escape his or her stalker, they lose their protection,’ Royce said. ‘It’s ironic, but the victim becomes the hostage.”
Several victims of stalking attended the White House signing.
One, Kathleen Gallagher Baty of California, had been pursued by the same stalker for 15 years.
The stalker repeatedly ignored restraining orders. After Baty moved to Florida, the man cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and began heading for Florida before being apprehended in Nevada.
“I am very grateful for laws like this,” Baty told reporters. “I had to go to court 16 times before I could get a conviction against the stalker.”