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Churchgoer’s Criminal Stalking Conviction Vacated Due to Free Speech Concerns

Man’s social media posts about a church employee retained First Amendment protections, court says.

A North Carolina court ruled that a church member could not be convicted of violating an anti-stalking statute for posting content to his social media account that offended another member.

An adult male (the “defendant”) met a woman (“Mary”) at a church prior to the start of a Good Friday worship service. Mary was employed in the church's communications department. The two of them were seated at the same table and briefly made small talk in a group setting before separating at the beginning of the service. Upon leaving church that day, Mary did not give any further thought to her encounter with the defendant.

A few weeks later the defendant mailed a five-page handwritten letter to Mary's work address. Mary later testified:

The gist of it was that when [Defendant] first saw me at the Good Friday service he thought he had found his soul mate, and that the feelings ...

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Posted:
  • October 7, 2019

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