Heard: November 14, 2016.
for protection from harassment filed in the Lynn Division of
the District Court Department on October 14, 2014. A hearing
to extend the harassment prevention order was had before
Albert S. Conlon, J.
Christine I. Wetzel for the plaintiff.
Sullivan, Maldonado, & Neyman, JJ.
defendant, J.H., appeals from a civil harassment prevention
order issued pursuant to G. L. c. 258E. He contends that his
former girl friend, the plaintiff, J.C., did not prove three
or more acts of harassment as defined by G. L. c. 258E,
§ 1. He further contends that the judge was without
authority to order the surrender of his firearms. For the
reasons that follow, we vacate so much of the order as
required the defendant to surrender his firearms.
summarize the facts consistent with the judge's findings
and rulings based on the affidavits filed and the testimony
given at the hearing on the extension of the harassment
prevention order. The defendant initiated a relationship with
the plaintiff in August of 2010 after meeting her at an
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. The plaintiff ended their
relationship in April of 2013. After the relationship ended,
the defendant made the plaintiff "very
uncomfortable." The plaintiff changed her activities to
avoid him. She did so because he was "pushy" and
"suggested [they] get together for sex, " even
though she said no and repeatedly stated the relationship was
over. She attended a different AA meeting and switched to a
different yoga studio than the one she had frequented when
she was with the defendant. The defendant continued to
contact the plaintiff. He sent her text messages, and she
responded that she wanted to be left alone.
of 2013, the plaintiff received a series of text messages
from the defendant. In the first message, the defendant
texted, "You should be scared. I know where you practice
yoga. See you at yoga, bitch!" The plaintiff asked him
not to contact her, and sought the assistance of the police,
who told the defendant to cease all contact with the
plaintiff. Undeterred, the defendant continued to contact her
and appeared at the plaintiff's yoga class in November or
December of 2013. The defendant looked at the plaintiff
"angrily." The plaintiff was fearful that he would
follow her home, and she left the class early to avoid him.
text messages set a similar tone and provide further context.
In a second text message sent in July, 2013, the defendant
texted the plaintiff, "You don't get it. You have
much more to lose in this than I do. If you're so stupid
to tell anyone in AA about us, you'll be fucked." He
then texted, "If you tell [your boy friend] about us,
I'll send him naked pictures of you that'll prove
you're a slut. I'm keeping the pictures for blackmail
purposes." The defendant then sent numerous text
messages to the plaintiff's boy friend. A third text
message the defendant sent to the plaintiff during the month
of July, 2013, stated, "And, if you tell [your boy
friend] about the affair, I'll tell him how crazy and
fucked up you are. I will ruin you. Don't cross me. This
will end badly for you. You will pay the
noted above, the plaintiff telephoned her local police
department and, while no report was filed, the police
telephoned the defendant and told him not to contact the
plaintiff. The defendant continued to contact the plaintiff,
who told him to leave her alone.
addition to following the plaintiff to the yoga studio, the
defendant also appeared at a Starbucks in December of 2013,
where the plaintiff was seated with a friend. "He was
very red in the face and made extremely intimidating facial
expressions towards [her]." The plaintiff immediately
left the Starbucks. The defendant continued to text the
plaintiff after this incident, telling her that she should
apologize for going to the police.
January 1, 2014, the plaintiff filed a police report with the
local police. Once again, a police officer telephoned the
defendant and told him not to contact the plaintiff. The
defendant continued to contact the plaintiff through
electronic mail messages (e-mail), text messages, and
letters. In May of 2014, the plaintiff went again to the
police to report that the defendant continued to contact her
and that the defendant had approached the plaintiff's boy
friend and asked to speak to him. The police advised the
plaintiff of her right to seek a harassment prevention order.
The defendant continued to try to contact the plaintiff
through a friend. He sent the plaintiff a letter in April of
2014 in which he stated, "I will admit to my
jealousy." He promised not to contact her again, and
asked that she not go to the police.
30, 2014, the defendant appeared at the plaintiff's
workplace, a private home where she was caring for children.
He tried to talk to her, and blocked the driveway with his
truck. The plaintiff "immediately took the kids inside
their house, " afraid that he would try to engage her.
After that incident, the plaintiff received letters, text
messages, and a flower delivery from the defendant, all in an
effort to rekindle the relationship. At this juncture the
relationship had been over for fifteen months, and both the
plaintiff and the local police department had made numerous
unsuccessful efforts to dissuade the defendant from
contacting and following her.
October 14, 2014, the plaintiff filed a complaint for an ex
parte harassment prevention order. The ex parte order issued,
and the order was extended for one year at a hearing held on
November 7, 2014, at which the judge found that the plaintiff
had satisfied her burden in light of the "overwhelming
number" of contacts, "particularly in the face of
[the defendant] being told by the police that [he] just
shouldn't be going there." The judge also