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Stephens v. Rose

Supreme Court of Virginia

September 12, 2014

JEFFREY STEPHENS,
v.
SHELLIE RAE ROSE

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY Lorraine Nordlund, Judge.

Peter M. Fitzner (Matthews, Snider & Fitzner, on briefs), for appellant.

Mehagen D. McRae (Roeder, Cochran & Haight, on brief), for appellee.

PRESENT: All the Justices

OPINION

Page 759

S. BERNARD GOODWYN, JUSTICE.

In this appeal, we consider whether the Circuit Court of Fairfax County erred in issuing a protective order pursuant to Code § 19.2-152.10.

Page 760

Background

Shellie Rae Rose (Rose) filed a petition in the General District Court of Fairfax County for a protective order against her former boyfriend Jeffrey Paul Stephens (Stephens). The general district court granted her petition, and Stephens appealed to the Circuit Court of Fairfax County.

The circuit court conducted an evidentiary hearing and found " that [Rose had] been reasonably placed in apprehension of bodily injury" by Stephens' actions, which constituted stalking. It granted Rose's petition. Stephens appeals, claiming that the circuit court erred in issuing the protective order because Rose failed to show that he directed an act of violence, force or threat toward her.

Facts

In 2007, Stephens and Rose were engaged to be married and had dated for approximately four years when they decided to end their relationship. According to Rose, the couple separated because Stephens had " become somewhat moody" and had " problems with anger management." At the hearing in circuit court, she said, " It felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time. I didn't know what triggers would cause him to get angry."

In 2008, Rose and Stephens communicated infrequently. On one occasion, they briefly chatted through online instant messaging. Rose also forwarded two emails to Stephens pertaining to doctoral programs in which he might be interested. Soon thereafter Rose emailed Stephens and asked that he not call her anymore.

From 2009 through 2012, Stephens periodically tried to contact Rose through email, instant messaging and social media. During this period, he emailed her numerous times, sent her seven online instant messages, and tried to contact her several times through two social media sites. However, Rose did not respond. In two of his 2010 emails, Stephens acknowledged Rose's desire not to communicate with him, ...


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