ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won another round in court on Monday against a Pennsylvania teenager accused of stalking the outspoken conservative, telling a judge, “I fear for my friends’ and for my family’s safety.”
The three-hour Anchorage court hearing, with Palin and her antagonists testifying by telephone, ended with the judge renewing a previous restraining order against Shawn Christy, 19, and issuing a similar order against his father, Craig.
Shawn Christy admitted in court to having threatened to rape Palin but has denied her allegations he menaced her daughters. He also admitted sending Palin numerous e-mails and gifts, and to traveling to Anchorage earlier this year.
Craig Christy admitted to making more than two dozen early morning phone calls to Palin’s parents over a two-day period in March. He also acknowledged organizing a support group for his son to stage protests at events attended by Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and he maintains a Facebook page with numerous anti-Palin messages.
State Superior Court Magistrate Jonathon Lack said he found the repeated telephone calls to Palin’s parents, some of them recorded and played at the hearing, to be “very disturbing.”
Lack rejected Palin’s request for a restraining order against the teen’s mother, Karen Christy, who called Palin’s parents only twice.
The judge also refused to grant separate restraining orders sought by Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, and by Kristan Cole, a close Palin friend, because neither appeared in person or by telephone for Monday’s hearing.
But he ruled that the behavior of Shawn and Craig Christy constituted stalking that justified restraining orders.
Palin described all three members of the Christy family, who live in McAdoo, Pennsylvania, as dangerous and operating under a delusion that she was carrying on some type of relationship with the son via text messaging.
“I think they’re three peas in a pod, and I fear for my friends’ and for my family’s safety,” she testified over the phone from her home in Wasilla.
“They believe that I was engaged in a ‘sexting’ affair with their son. And they’re now asking me why, in all these months of them harassing my friends and my family ... why it was that I didn’t personally reach out to them and give them the attention they desire,” she said. “Because I will not reward that kind of behavior and encourage that type of behavior.”
The judge barred the father and son from sending further communications to Palin or members of her family. He also ordered them to stay away from Palin’s Wasilla residence or any public schools in the area, and to remain at least 1,000 feet from any event attended by the former governor. The restraining orders will remain in effect for six months, Lack said.
Palin and Cole initially won protective orders last year against Christy, who previously has been investigated for alleged threats against President Barack Obama and Palin’s former running mate, Senator John McCain of Arizona.
He is described in court documents as a former ardent supporter of Palin and as having mental problems.
A psychiatric evaluation conducted in 2009 at the request of the U.S. Secret Service concluded his problems appear to stem from a latent onset of Lyme disease.
The psychiatrist described him as an extremely intelligent “computer geez/whiz” with “a seemingly generous heart and no history of actual violence or aggression.” But he was found lacking in the ability to comprehend cause-and-effect behavior while possessing a sense of being “entitled to a personal relationship with powerful people.”
Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton