A prominent Seattle Times reporter has resigned after the newspaper began investigating a report that he had harassed and sent sexually explicit messages to another journalist. Mike Rosenberg had been with the newspaper as a real estate journalist since 2016 and had about 37,000 Twitter followers before he deleted his account after the allegations were made known. The journalist he allegedly harassed is Talia Jane, who has written for Vice, Fusion, and the New York Post. Jane took screenshots of the messages Rosenberg had sent her and began tweeting them in a thread to her followers.
At first, Rosenberg's messages seemed to be friendly inquiries about Jane's job opportunities but they reportedly turned sexually explicit in nature. When Jane informed him his behavior was inappropriate, he claimed the messages were meant for someone else and he didn't know how to delete his account.
Jane then claims Rosenberg sent her an email asking her not to out him and that he would make a donation to the National Organization of Women as reparation for his behavior. Jane declined his offer and revealed his name.
The president and CFO of the Seattle Times issued the following statement: "The Seattle Times has been made aware of allegations of sexual harassment earlier today against a newsroom employee. We take these kinds of allegations very seriously and have suspended the employee pending an investigation by our human resources group."
Harassment and Cyberstalking in Washington
Washington was one of the first states to pass a cyberstalking law in 2004. According to Washington law RCW 9.61.260:
“(1) A person is guilty of cyberstalking if he or she, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, makes an electronic communication to such other person or a third party:
(a) Using any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act;
(b) Anonymously or repeatedly whether or not conversation occurs; or
(c) Threatening to inflict injury on the person or property of the person called or any member of his or her family or household.”
Defenses to Cyberstalking Charges
Although no criminal charges have been filed against Rosenberg, he could have faced gross misdemeanor penalties that include a fine up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both. If he had been charged, Rosenberg might have been able to provide a defense that the victim's reaction was unreasonable or hypersensitive. In other words, his behavior might have been inappropriate or unprofessional, but he did not set out to intentionally scare, intimidate, or bother the victim.
Cyberstalking is often a claim in many domestic violence cases. Attorney Steve Karimi is an experienced attorney with significant experience in criminal defense. If you or someone you know are facing cyberstalking or harassment charges in the greater Seattle area, contact Steve Karimi today for a comprehensive consultation about your case. You may fill out an online case evaluation form or call (206) 621-8777 today.