Feb 092018
 
 February 9, 2018  Court, U.S.

WHAM reports:

The FBI says a Long Island man targeted his ex-girlfriend by sending cocaine to her dorm at SUNY Geneseo, sabotaging her test scores – then terrorizing her sorority.

Thomas Traficante, 23, of Long Island returned to federal court in Rochester where it was learned a plea deal to resolve the matter may be in the works.

Read more on WHAM. Some of Traficante’s alleged methods to terrorize his ex- and her sorority sisters appear to be similar to what TheDarkOverlord had used a few months earlier in attempting to extort a school district in Montana. They, too, had reached out and contacted students directly through their cell phones. In Traficante’s case, the complaint alleges that:

At 4:00 p.m. on November 1, members of the Sigma Kappa Sorority received a startling message. “It’s not safe out there tonight Kappas,” the message read. The message came directly to their private cell phones. Twenty four hours later, a second message came in: “One night doesn’t make Kappas or their dates any safer.”

And later: “Harm is coming.”

Available media coverage does not indicate how Traficante allegedly obtained the sorority sisters’ cell phone numbers. The complaint, however, does provide additional details on that:

On December 5, 2017, some of the students reported to university police they believed they found the connection between the different members that had received the text messages. They reported the sorority uses the “Group Me” application to ensure all members have a safe ride home on the weekends. It was realized, that all of the girls that had posted their numbers to this application had received the text messages. They said someone would have to be able to log in to the application account to gain access to the posted numbers.

Based on other information and allegations in the complaint, it would not be surprising if Traficante had been able to hack into his victim’s account. In fact, I’m surprised that the prosecutors did not tack on a hacking charge, as he seems to have actually bragged about his ability to get into accounts.

The complaint contains other details that are, as WHAM characterized, chilling.

Traficante is charged under a federal stalking/harassment statute, but there are other charges as well. He is charged with attempting to frame her by sending drugs to her dorm room and tipping off the university that she had ordered drugs. He also allegedly posted her contact details to a prostitution site (Backpage.com) and companionreview.com, resulting in the victim receiving dozens of unwanted phone calls and contacts. And he allegedly threatened her sorority sisters. There were three federal charges filed, that he

did knowingly with the intent to kill, injure, harass, intimidate, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person, used the mail, any interactive computer service or electronic communication service or electronic communication system of interstate commerce, or any other facility of interstate or foreign commerce to engage in a course of conduct that placed that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury or caused, attempted to cause, or would be reasonably expected to have caused substantial emotional distress to a person, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2261(A); did knowingly transmit in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the person of another, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 875(c); and did possess with intent to distribute and distributed cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 8a1(a).

It seems clear from the complaint that Traficante allegedly became obsessed with his victim, that he recognized he was obsessed, but he felt that his brain wouldn’t let him stop. He even articulated that he knew his behavior wasn’t rational. The complaint quotes Traficante as allegedly stating to his victim,

“I just obsess over things that I get stuck in my head. I get anxious over it ya know?”, and then, “Alright pulling the trigger on this”, and then, “Pulling the trigger on something means you’te going to go through with it”. The VICTIM responds, “What are you going through  with?”  TRAFICANTE responds, “The  severe stalking Or really not stalking but ya know But it was a joke obviously”, soon followed by, “It’s not actually stalking, it’d be 10 min of gathering simple data..stalking was the wrong word to use. And it’s not that I want to do it, it’s the only way I know of to settle my mind so I know firsthand what is and is not the truth.” TRAFICANTE soon states that when he is not able to prove something it causes “friction” in his brain. TRAFICANTE then states, “When I get this “friction” the only way to fix it, really, is to be able to prove or disprove whatever it is…”

At another point in the complaint, Traficante is described as viewing himself as a victim seeking revenge:

On November 17,2017, another student reported to university police he had  a telephone conversation with the person who had left the threatening texts. The student said the person seemed to be using a voice changer application. The student reported the person said he did not necessarily want to do what he was doing, but “his brain was telling him to,,. The student said the person told him he had been “wronged” by members in the Greek community and that he needs revenge. ……. The person claimed to want to inflict mental and emotional harm. The person told the student he knew he was not acting rationally and that he was prescribed Xanax.

Traficante’s lawyer has requested – and the court has approved – a psychiatric evaluation for Traficante.

But Traficante’s case is not unusual at all in certain respects. The professional literature on stalking and cyberstalking is replete with instances of obsessed stalkers, and in some typologies of stalking, “Obsessional stalkers” is the most frequent type.  And it’s all-too-common to read that someone feels that they have been wronged,  that they blame their victim for their misery, that they can’t let it go, and they then engage in inappropriate and illegal conduct (stalking and harassment) even though they know they should not be doing it.

Other typologies do not talk about “Obsessional stalkers” but talk about “Resentful stalkers.”  Resentful stalkers are not always described as having obsessional thinking, but may be described more in terms of personality disordered.  One site provides this description:

Resentful stalking arises when the stalker feels as though they have been mistreated or that they are the victim of some form of injustice or humiliation. Victims are strangers or acquaintances who are seen to have mistreated the stalker. Resentful stalking can arise out of a severe mental illness when the perpetrator develops paranoid beliefs about the victim and uses stalking as a way of ‘getting back’ at the victim. The initial motivation for stalking is the desire for revenge or to ‘even the score’ and the stalking is maintained by the sense of power and control that the stalker derives from inducing fear in the victim. Often Resentful stalkers present themselves as a victim who is justified in using stalking to fight back against an oppressing person or organisation.

Hopefully, if the charges are true, Traficante will get the professional help he needs, but as importantly, hopefully, the victim will get some relief.  Whatever Traficante’s psychiatric problems may be or whatever any stalker’s psychiatric problems may be, if they cannot control themselves and stop themselves, then the law should stop them.