The Stalking Sergeant
It Can Happen to Anyone. Here’s What Survivors Say They Wish They’d Done Sooner.
Stalking is unique. I can’t think of another crime where ordinary behavior can have such a sinister meaning. It’s a crime where the context is everything. And because of that, it can be so difficult for victims to convince others of the danger they’re in or understand the terror they feel.
Here’s an example. Let’s say your ex-husband sends you red roses on your wedding anniversary. Nothing criminal about that, right? But what we don’t know — and you do — is that your ex knows you hate red roses. He knows they reminded you of your mother’s funeral when you were six. And, after it was clear to him that divorce was inevitable, he repeatedly told you that the next time you saw red roses would be the day you died.
Another unusual aspect of stalking is the people who do it. I used to be astonished by the news that a now-arrested stalker was also an attorney or doctor or model or rock star or successful businessman. Not anymore. Stalking cuts across all demographic lines, intelligence levels, and common sense. It takes over the victim’s life and seems to take over the life of the stalker as well.
What happened in my backyard is a good example.
Abuse of a Badge
Forty-three-year-old Mariusz Czas, a former San Diego police sergeant, will spend the next year working in a prison furlough program. This man was a police officer for eighteen years. This man knew better.
And yet, he stalked and harassed his ex-girlfriend for months after they broke up. He didn’t just send her a few unwanted texts and emails or repeatedly drive by her house to check up on her. He began a systematic terror campaign.
Czas sent texts to his ex from unknown phone numbers demanding money. He sent anonymous messages threatening to post nude photos on pornographic websites and her personal and business contacts. When she confronted Czas about these messages — which she (rightfully) believed were from him — he claimed that he, too, was being victimized by the same “hacker.” He offered to use police resources to investigate.