Justices affirm stalking conviction for driver who followed college student 70 miles

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A man’s act of following a college student for more than two hours on U.S. Highway 30 from Valparaiso to Warsaw constituted stalking, Indiana Supreme Court justices affirmed Tuesday, finding his actions were continuous in nature.

Rodney Falls was convicted by a Kosciusko County jury of Level 6 felony stalking after he relentlessly pursued college student A.G.’s vehicle for hours as she attempted to evade him. While stopped at a red light in Valparaiso, Falls waved to A.G. from his vehicle in the adjacent lane, and she ignored him. Falls, who the woman did not know, then followed her onto the highway, mimicking her as she switched lanes and sped up or slowed down.

Falls continued to mimic A.G.’s car by driving up and down residential streets, which she did to test if he was following her. Upon realizing he continued to closely pursue her vehicle, she fled to the Warsaw Police Department, where Falls again pulled up beside her and waved again. The pursuit only stopped when A.G. pulled into the parking lot of the Warsaw Police Department for the second time and ran inside for help.

A divided Indiana Court of Appeals panel rejected Falls’ appeal, concluding that evidence that his actions were “repeated” pursuant to Indiana Code § 35-45-10-2 was not insufficient, despite the court’s definition of “repeated” as “more than once.”

In a per curiam decision, Indiana Supreme Court justices unanimously affirmed Falls’ conviction in Rodney W. Falls v. State of Indiana,19S-CR-557. The court noted that while Indiana’s anti-stalking statutes do not define “repeated,” Indiana’s appellate courts have long held that “the term ‘repeated’ in Indiana’s anti-stalking law means ‘more than once.’

“This does not mean that Falls is entitled to acquittal — his actions of following A.G. in his vehicle for two and one-half hours, despite her efforts to evade him, certainly fall within the statutory definition of ‘continuing harassment,’ which expressly includes ‘[f]ollowing or pursuing’ the victim,’” the per curiam order states.

“But because Falls’s conduct was not ‘repeated,’ we grant transfer to clarify this portion of the Court of Appeals opinion and to reaffirm that a charge of stalking may be supported by conduct that is purely continuous in nature,” the Supreme Court wrote. “We find that Falls’s conduct on February 13, 2018 met the statutory definition of ‘continuing’ harassment, thereby supporting his conviction for stalking as a Level 6 felony.”

All justices concurred and summarily affirmed the appellate court’s opinion in all other respects.

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