Sunday, May 31, 2009

Australian with Asperger's jailed for cyber-stalking "American Idol" contestant

From The Age in Australia:

A Melbourne woman who cyber-stalked an American Idol contestant has been jailed for 26 months.

Tanya Maree Quattrocchi, 23, has admitted stalking 2004 American Idol runner-up Diana Degarmo by hacking into her MySpace account, intercepting her emails and those of the entertainer's family and friends.

The Victorian County Court heard Quattrocchi, of Oak Park in Melbourne's north, pretended to be a 14-year-old fan to join the singer's MySpace site.

She proceeded to hack into her emails, accessed personal information and then tried to blackmail the singer.

Quattrocchi was placed on a community-based order for stalking and blackmailing Ms Degarmo over those offences in 2006.

However, six months later she again faced charges of stalking the singer after sending emails to her victim's family and friends.

Judge Lisa Hannan sentenced the serial stalker to 26 months' jail with a non-parole period of 12 months.

She expressed reservations about Quattrocchi's rehabilitation prospects, saying her offending had become entrenched and was ongoing.

The court heard that in November 2007 she sent an email to Degarmo's sister-in-law where she made false claims about the entertainer's sex life that the judge described as explicit and disgraceful.

When police arrested her in January this year she was sitting at an internet cafe, typing an email in which she pretended to be Ms Degarmo's mother.

Judge Hannan described her offending as serious, particularly since it occurred only six months after she had been placed on a community-based order for stalking the same victim.

"From a victim's perspective you are a faceless stalker invading every aspect of their lives. There is no door to lock, no alarm to activate," Judge Hannan said.

"They are constantly vulnerable. There is no way they can redress many of the lies you have told."

She expressed concern that Quattrocchi had told a doctor that she still felt she had been wronged and proposed to write a book about her experience.

Judge Hannan said this had the "potential to constitute further offending".

The judge said she took into account that Quattrocchi had pleaded guilty to stalking, had recently been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and her intellectual impairment had been assessed as borderline.