VA worker’s protective order against Marine reversed

A woman who worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs who obtained a protective order against a patient after he left four notes on her car didn’t prove that the Marine had stalked her and threatened her safety, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

C.R. worked at the VA in South Bend and over the course of seven months, found four notes on her car. The court record doesn’t specify what the notes said, but C.R. testified during the protective order hearing that they talked about her physical attributes and creeped her out. She was able to determine that C.V. left the notes after matching up patient appointment dates and knowing that the author was a Marine.

VA Police spoke to C.V. and told him to stop leaving the notes, which he did. C.R. did not press criminal charges, but filed for a protective order. She represented herself and was unable to lay a proper foundation for the admission of the notes or surveillance video. The trial court did, however, grant the protective order, finding she had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that C.V. had stalked her and that he represented a “credible threat” to her safety.

C.V. appealed the May 2016 order, arguing that C.R. failed to present sufficient evidence to support the issuance of the protective order. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed. Judge Rudolph Pyle cited Maurer v. Cobb-Maurer, 994 N.E.2d 753, 757 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013) in his opinion, in which the appeals court held a man did not stalk his ex-wife because his wife did not produce specific information about the number of emails he sent or any evidence she asked him to stop contacting her.

Pyle noted that C.V.’s contact with C.R. was relatively vague and not constant, and that C.R. did not produce any evidence that she asked C.V. to stop sending her the notes or that he persisted after she asked him to stop.

Pyle also wrote that the nature of C.V.’s contact appeared to be relatively non-threatening – he left her notes in a public place and the dates happened to coincide with his treatment at the VA.

“These factors might not be dispositive under different circumstances. However, because there was no evidence that the contents of the notes were threatening, we cannot conclude that there was sufficient evidence that a reasonable person would have felt terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened by C.V.’s acts under these circumstances.”

The case is C.V. v. C.R., 45A03-1606-PO-1282.

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