Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

What Should You Know About Criminal Harassment?

A Bridgewater State University professor was recently arrested by Brockton law enforcement and charged with raping a female student, sex trafficking, and criminal harassment. The professor later pled guilty to all charges. Bridgewater law enforcement initially based the charges on a report from one female student, but five additional female victims later came forward with similar reports. 

One woman who was not a student of the professor stated that she met him online through a website that matches “sugar babies” with “sugar daddies.” When the woman met the professor inside his office, she reports that the professor forced anal and oral sex on her. This story led the Bridgewater community to publicize the arrest, which led more women to come forth with similar stories. Another woman stated that she had met the professor on the same website and that he had sent her money through the Venmo app in an effort to get her attention. 

The harassment charge comes from several incidents involving a female student who reported that the professor became her advisor and convinced her to change her major to public relations, which was the professor’s specialty. The woman also reports that the professor began following her on social media.

The term “harassment” encompasses several types of criminal behavior, which include both the infliction of emotional distress and stalking. In Massachusetts, a person can be convicted of criminal harassment if it can be established that an individual maliciously and willfully engaged in behavior that would cause a reasonable person to experience emotional distress. In many criminal harassment cases, the victim and person committing the harassment know one another. 

While harassment of this nature is common at the end of romantic relationships, there are various other situations in which harassment of this nature can occur. Regardless of the situation, criminal harassment is a serious offense that can cause a person convicted to end up facing two and a half years in jail and fines of up to $1,000. 

The Four Elements of Criminal Harassment

To convict a person of criminal harassment, the prosecution must establish four elements:

  • That the conduct occurred at least three separate times

  • The act would cause a reasonable person to experience emotional distress

  • That an act caused a victim to experience serious alarm

  • That a person’s actions were willful and the intent was malicious

Massachusetts law takes the perspective that feeling nervous or uneasiness is not sufficient grounds on which to base a criminal harassment conviction. Instead, a victim must experience substantial emotional distress. This harassment can occur on any type of medium including email, phone, or text messaging.

Speak with a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being charged with any type of sexual offense in Massachusetts can quickly cause a person to face serious complications including large fines, imprisonment, and the stigma of being branded as a sex offender. If you are facing Massachusetts sex charges, obtain the assistance of an attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.