Why Now?
Saturday, March 04, 2006
  Who Is Guilty?
As Atrios and others have noted, Bill O'Reilly went ballistic when a caller to his Westwood One radio program mentioned Keith Olbermann.

Mike from Orlando, Florida was told that Fox Security would take care of him, and Mike apparently received a call from a guy who identified himself as Fox Security and implied that Mike was in trouble.

As I former law enforcement type I thought I check to see what the law said.

Mike is in Florida, so he has to abide by the Florida Statutes:
Title XLVI - CRIMES

Chapter 784 - ASSAULT; BATTERY; CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE

784.048 Stalking; definitions; penalties.--

(1) As used in this section, the term:

(a) "Harass" means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.

(b) "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct." Such constitutionally protected activity includes picketing or other organized protests.

(c) "Credible threat" means a threat made with the intent to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety. The threat must be against the life of, or a threat to cause bodily injury to, a person.

(d) "Cyberstalk" means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

(2) Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Mike made one call to a program that solicited calls, so there's no way to establish this as a "pattern" or to argue it occurred "repeatedly". The case for "substantial emotional distress" is based on a the test for a "reasonable man". I don't see it.

On the other hand, Mr. O'Reilly is in New York, and his decision to have a representative of Fox Security to call someone about something that occurred on Westwood is odd and not a great idea under New York Penal Law.
Chapter 40 Of The Consolidated Laws
Part Three--Specific Offenses
Title N--Offenses Against Public Order, Public Sensibilities And The Right To Privacy

Article 240--Offenses Against Public Order

Section 240.30 Aggravated harassment in the second degree.

A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she:

1. Either (a) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (b) causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise, with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.

Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
I see a case for Mr. O'Reilly having the call made with the intent to "threaten" and "annoy" Mike. It's only a year in jail and/or a $1000 fine, but if Mike wanted to go to New York and file charges the Penal Law says he has a case. I'd probably just file a complaint to the telephone company that Westwood One uses.

 



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