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article imageTwitter posts lead to arrest, harassment charges for Toronto man

By Yukio Strachan     Nov 23, 2012 in Crime
A 52-year-old Toronto man was arrested and charged with criminal harassment Wednesday for allegedly harassing a woman on Twitter.
Political feminist Stephanie Guthrie said she first met Gregory Alan Elliott in April when she was organizing for an upcoming community event. He contacted her on Twitter offering to design a poster, the Toronto Star reported.
“I didn’t know anything about him, but he had done some reputable work,” Guthrie said.
The 52-year-old describes himself on his Twitter account as a Toronto artist with four grown sons.
But Guthrie became concerned with Elliott's online behavior, according to police, and told him she would seek help elsewhere.
"The accused then began harassing the complainant through Twitter," police said, according to the National Post.
In August, Guthrie said she became concerned with Elliot's messages and asked him to "halt all communication," 680 News reported.
But Guthrie said he continued to tweet, and only became worse when she and her friends requested that the tweets stop. She began to fear for her safety, according to police.
“The only recourse was contacting the police,” she said.
Elliott has been charged with criminal harassment and breach of a peace bond.
Guthrie was worried about him approaching her offline. “When somebody is basically stalking you on the Internet, you feel trapped and painted into a corner, and that’s how I felt,” she said.
Guthrie said she didn’t lodge a complaint with the police as a political move.
“I’ve already had quite a number of people suggest that I’m doing this as some kind of activist publicity stunt and I need to be very clear that that has absolutely nothing to do with this. I reported him because I was fearing for my personal safety and he was keeping me up at night,” she said.
Stories like this are too common, Guthrie said. “Basically, this kind of thing happens on the Internet all the time, and the culture of the Internet encourages us to look the other way,” she said.
Guthrie said one of the reasons she is speaking out about what happened is to remind people that their online lives are connected to their offline lives, Metro Toronto reported.
Offline, Elliot does “Snoetry” (snow poetry) and graffiti with hearts and positive or uplifting messages, which he often Tweets about.
“He seems to have this really compartmentalized idea of, I am one person in real life, on Twitter I am a different person and he really sees that his graffiti is one thing that he does and the other stuff is totally unrelated,” said Guthrie. “If there’s anything people should take away from this, it is that the things you do online are you.”
Police believe there may be other victims. "If you would like to come forward to assist with the investigation, please call me at 416-808-1450," tweeted Detective Jeff Bangild, Youth crime and family services investigator.
Anyone with further information can also contact police at 416-808-1400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.
More about Stephanie Guthrie, Gregory Alan Elliott, Twitter, Harassment
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