Rebecca Schaeffer, a 21-year-old actress, was shot and killed by an obsessed fan who showed up at her Los Angeles apartment uninvited. He obtained her home address through California Department of Motor Vehicles records.
In response to Schaeffer’s murder, California enacted a law preventing the state’s DMV from releasing private addresses.
Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old New Jersey girl, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a 33-year-old neighbor who lured her to his house by promising to show her a puppy. The child killer turned out to be a repeat violent sex offender.
In the wake of little Megan’s murder, New Jersey passed “Megan’s Law,” which required local law enforcement authorities to inform parents when sexual predators move into their neighborhood.
Erin Andrews, a 31-year-old reporter for ESPN, was surreptitiously videotaped while she was naked in her hotel room. The illicit video was posted on the Internet and has been viewed by millions of online voyeurs since July.
Miss Andrews appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show this past Friday to talk about the ordeal from which she is still suffering. Teary eyed, the young woman recalled the first time she saw the video online. “I opened up the computer,” she said, “I could feel my heart pounding.”
All but one state – Iowa – has a statute on its books addressing unlawful videotaping, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. The punishments vary from state to state, from nominal fines to several years behind bars.
The laws are well-intended but do not go nearly far enough to protect innocent targets like Miss Andrews. She was not only the unsuspecting prey of a Peeping Tom with a video camera, but also the victim of Internet rape.
Indeed, her predator first violated her by videotaping her naked in her hotel room as she combed her hair in the mirror and as she ironed a pair of trousers. Then he further violated her by posting the perverted video online. And he continues to violate her every time the video of the sports reporter is downloaded by an online voyeur.
Miss Andrews has suffered just as surely as a victim of a violent sexual crime. New laws should be passed – call them “Erin’s Law” – that punishes Internet rape just as severely as physical rape.