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Archive for Tuesday, August 15, 1995

VICTIM SAYS KU PROF CONTINUES TO STALK HER

August 15, 1995

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Definition of stalking, State law defines stalking as "intentional, malicious and repeated following or harassment of another person" which involves the credible threat that a person could reasonably fear for their safety. Stalking is a felony. A Lawrence woman says she still lives in fear, even though a court has convicted a KU professor of stalking her.

A Lawrence therapist who has been stalked for two years by a former client is struggling to escape a terrifying web of obsession and pursuit.

The victim, who chose not to be identified for this story, said she has been stalked since September 1993 by Hobart Jackson Jr., a tenured associate professor of architecture and urban design at Kansas University.

The woman thought going to the police and pressing charges against Jackson would end the matter.

Nasty telephone messages, hang-up calls and window-peeping continued. One of the many letters Jackson sent her stated that if he couldn't have her as a lover, then her constant companion would be fear -- fear of him.

She thought catching him in violation of his court-ordered rehabilitation might end the nightmare.

It did not. The stalking and harassment continue, the victim said.

A court test

Jackson, 54, pleaded no contest in Douglas County District Court to misdemeanor stalking in July 1994. He was sentenced to two years in the county's intensive community corrections program.

He was arrested in May for failure to abide by a court order to leave the victim alone. He confessed to staking out the victim's home and making harassing telephone calls to her house.

A judge will rule on the violation in September, said Dist. Atty. Mark Knight, who participated in prosecution of Jackson. Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin said victims can help prosecutors by reporting stalking activities as soon as possible.

"We need to have information about these activities while they are occurring. We have better ability to put together a case if we're notified while it's going on, not two weeks after," said Olin, who would not comment specifically on Jackson's case.

Different perspectives

The victim and Jackson were never romantically involved, the victim said. She had been Jackson's therapist.

Jackson said Monday in an interview at his house that he didn't want to talk about the stalking case.

"I don't have anything to say about it," he said.

Before abruptly ending the interview by closing his front door, Jackson said he was no longer stalking the woman.

The victim disagrees with that assessment. Hang-up calls from telephone booths in Lawrence to her house occurred throughout the past weekend, as they have for months.

A friend of the victim, Khabira Gruber of Lawrence, said there may not be a way to end Jackson's obsession.

"He has continued to stalk her. He will not stop and feels he has outsmarted the law," she said.

The victim alleges that Jackson's stalking has taken many forms.

Jackson allegedly kept a log of all cars driven on the victim's residential street and claimed the male motorists were her lovers. He peeked through windows of her house, she said, then claimed her guests were her lovers. She knows this because Jackson sent her a series of letters and notes outlining his thoughts.

One day, the victim saw Jackson leave a dozen copies of the KU student newspaper on her porch at a dozen different times. He's videotaped the victim and her family leaving their home. Someone cut down all the victim's rose bushes. Someone sabotaged her car, she said.

Jackson declined to discuss these specific allegations.

Jackson's lawyer, Kevin Diehl, did send correspondence to the victim's lawyer this month blaming the victim for the stalking obsession. Jackson would be willing to forget the matter in exchange for $10,360 from the victim, the lawyer said.

Emotional rape

Stalking isn't a new crime. Of course, the best known incidents of stalking involve celebrities pursued by disturbed fans. Rebecca Schaeffer, star of television's "My Sister Sam," was shot and killed by a stalker in 1989.

David Letterman and Michael J. Fox have both endured the pursuit by troubled individuals.

However, most victims are ordinary people.

Sara Jane Russell, executive director of the Douglas County Rape Victim/Survivor Service in Lawrence, said stalkers have an obsession about control of the victim. Stalking has nothing to do with love, she said.

"Survivors of stalking say that they experience a trauma similar to rape. One stalking victim called it emotional rape," she said.

Tom Locke, clinical psychologist with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence, said treating people who stalk was difficult.

"They have a preconceived notion about the relationship and that notion is just not impacted by reality," Locke said. "The stalker does filter every contact with the victim ... through a delusional belief system."

The community corrections program designed for Jackson included a provision that he participate in group and individual therapy.

Close-mouthed KU

Jackson has been on the architecture faculty at KU since 1971. He is a tenured associate professor, meaning it would be difficult to dismiss him for any reason. He's a well-known artist and photographer.

John Gaunt, dean of architecture and urban design, said Monday that he received a letter outlining Jackson's situation. He considered speaking with Jackson, but was advised not to do so by Victoria Thomas, KU's lawyer.

"We don't comment on personnel matters," Thomas said today when asked about the case.

She said the university's focus in faculty matters was on what those people did in relation to their job -- not what they did off campus in their private lives.

Gaunt said he was disturbed by allegations of stalking against a member of a university faculty.

"My concern in this or any case involving our faculty would be for us as role models -- as educators," Gaunt said. "It is an issue of deep concern to me."

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