richardmcculloch2web.gifIt’s a news item that you may not have heard.

It’s a story that doesn’t have the sexy factor of a world-famous golf pro crashing his SUV and his reputation because of a series of marital indiscretions.

Just like stories of cheating husbands are an unfortunate common tale of women across the globe, so too are the stories of male stalkers who victimize women with unwanted attention, intrusion of their privacy and – in some cases – murder.
One such case recently took shape in Brevard County, Florida this past February.

Alissa Blanton had worked as a waitress at the popular eatery Hooters until September 2008. In her tenure at the establishment known as much for its
less-than-traditionally-clad servers as for its chicken wings, Blanton developed an admirer of sorts in restaurant regular Roger Troy.

Troy, a man in his early 60s, was a faithful patron at the Merritt Island Hooters location who began sitting in Blanton’s section whenever he entered the restaurant.

At first, there was nothing inappropriate in the customer-waitress relationship that the two shared. At one point, Blanton gave him her email address, in lieu of  the phone number he had requested. Soon after that, however, Troy began to make advances that made Blanton and her boss uncomfortable.

When Troy began walking Blanton to her car after her shift, the verbal good-byes soon were accompanied by hugs, a gesture certainly not endorsed by the management of Hooters.

When Blanton’s manager confronted Troy and warned him that touching the waitresses was not allowed, Troy took the position that the amount of money he had spent in the establishment, and specifically with Blanton, should insulate him from these types of restrictions. After all, his relationship with Blanton was special, he argued.

The admonition from the manager, and Blanton’s adverse reaction to his over-the-line advances, prompted Troy to stop sitting in her section and to start flooding her email inbox with mean-spirited correspondences, documenting how terrible a person she was, and including disparaging sentiments about her ex-boyfriend.

Even after she moved to Orlando, started a new job, and eventually married a co-worker, the email assault continued, and the harassment escalated to threatening phone calls, abusive letters and in-person visits at her new place of employment.

Armed with over 70 pages of harassing emails and documents, including information that Troy owned several guns, Blanton petitioned for an emergency order of protection on Feb. 1, 2010 in a court presided over by Judge Dean Moxley.

He refused her petition.

The judge scheduled a hearing for Feb. 16, 2010. Unfortunately, Troy made one of his surprise visits to Blanton’s workplace the week before, and shot the woman to death before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.

Would this have happened if we truly valued women the way we should?

In an effort to justify his inaction in the Alissa Blanton case, Judge Moxley has publicly stated that “As a judge, you have to follow the law. You’re not omniscient…God bless her soul.”

Apparently in his interpretation of jurisprudence, 70-plus emails documenting harassment and stalking by a known multiple gun owner was not enough to offer legal relief to a woman crying for help.

The protection order may not have been enough to ultimately save Alissa Blanton’s life, but the message sent by this judge should offend any person who truly values women, and takes any form of violence directed towards them seriously.

Judge Dean Moxley effectively gave Roger Troy the ammunition to evolve from stalker to murderer when he deferred to the so-called rights of the accused, instead of protecting the safety and welfare of the victim.

As I stated at the beginning of this column, this may not be the most well-known or newsworthy story of the year, but in realizing that March is the month dedicated to appreciating women’s history, it needs to be understood and recognized that Alissa Blanton is now a part of women’s history for all the wrong reasons.