Man arrested for sending harassing e-mails
December 21, 2001
Germer turned himself in on Friday after he learned a Rowlett police had executed a warrant for his arrest for sending numerous incendiary e-mails to employees at the police department, including Chief Reece Daniel. An agreement between Germer and police postpones prosecution, possibly permanently if Germer completes counseling and refrains from further harassing e-mails.
After one year of allegedly sending harassing messages to police officers and city council members, Germer - who used the pseudonym "giblet gravy" -- was arrested under the authority granted by new anti-harassment legislation that took effect Sept. 1.
That law stated messages sent anonymously by e-mail have the same standing under the law as to messages conveyed by writing and telephone. Rowlett Police Sgt. Dean Poos said Germer could be the first individual in Texas to be charged under the law.
"The new law gave the department the option to take advantage of the it, and we did," said Poos. "It is not that we were scared of seeing criticism towards the department, but the profanity he used and the way he went about it is why we did what we did."
Some letters Germer allegedly sent to the police department contained photos of employees taken from the department's Web site with offensive and sexually explicit comments attached, police said.
Poos said the department has reason to believe Germer started sending the e-mails after he was issued a traffic citation from a Rowlett police officer.
"We assumed Germer was obsessing about this traffic ticket that triggered the harassment instead of letting it go and moving on," said Poos.
Poos said employees were initially instructed to ignore Germer's harassing e-mails in hope that he would cease his actions, but when it became obvious that Germer planned to continue, whether anyone answered him or not, the department felt it necessary to begin a criminal investigation into the matter.
After months of investigating, the police department served Germer's Internet service provider, Hotmail.com, which is operated by Microsoft, with the subpoena for records that obtained his name and address operating over the Internet.
"The police department's interest in this case was first to get the harassing behavior stopped and then to facilitate treatment for Mr. Germer, Daniel said. "The important point for people such as this to remember is that there is no anonymity on the Internet or through e-mail. It is a simple process to identify people that violate the harassment law."
Based on the information developed by the investigation, Poos said the police department obtained an arrest warrant for Germer, then notified him that the warrant had been issued.
A short time later, a lawyer representing Germer contacted the department asking how and when Germer could turn himself in.
Poos said Germer came to the police station with his lawyer. He and was arrested and booked. He was charged with the offense of harassment which is a class B misdemeanor.
Instead of turning the case over to the district attorney's office, Poos said the department handled the situation through an agreement with Germer and his lawyer.
The agreement states that the Rowlett police will withhold formal prosecutions if Germer completes counseling therapy for his behavior, submits a written apology and agrees in writing to use his real name in any further communications with the city.
If he violates any of the written agreements by continuing the harassment, Poos said, the department may take further action. If convicted, Germer could received up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
"Our concern was that this guy needed help and it wouldn't have stopped if we had put him in jail," said Poos. "We needed to do something because we were afraid he was going to go violent."
By Priscilla Hayes, Copyright © The Lakeshore Times 2001