Stalking is not something that only happens to celebrities – though it may have taken the murder of singer Christina Grimmie to call attention to how serious it can be.
NCIS star Pauley Perrette has been stalked for more than a decade but police have been less than helpful, ‘I was told by a police officer once that I should have stayed and let my stalker break my arms so then they would have something to prosecute,’ Perrette tells 48 Hours’ Erin Moriarty.
That’s why she has been working to change stalking laws that she says are ‘are outdated or ineffective,’ in Stalked, a two-hour 48 Hours special to be broadcast Saturday, Feb. 25 (9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on CBS.
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“Stalked” Will Be Broadcast Saturday, Feb. 25 (9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT)
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Erin Moriarty and 48 HOURS investigate multiple terrifying cases of stalking and the efforts driven by Pauley Perrette, star of CBS’ NCIS, to change laws that she says are outdated or ineffective, in “Stalked,” a two-hour special to be broadcast Saturday, Feb. 25 (9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Last year, singer Christina Grimmie was shot dead by an obsessed fan she didn’t know was stalking her online. He showed up at an Orlando, Fla., concert armed with two handguns and pulled the trigger.
Grimmie’s death “should be a huge wake-up call,” says Perrette, who has been stalked for more than a decade. “Anyone watching this at any time could suddenly become a victim of a stalker.”
There are more than 7.5 million cases of stalking reported each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 48 HOURS: “Stalked” exposes the extreme, often debilitating emotional toll that being stalked has had on Perrette and others, including a lawyer, a single mother and an internet celebrity. They explain vividly, through intimate interviews, what it feels like to be targeted and how being stalked made their lives feel smaller.
Moriarty also takes viewers inside her efforts to talk with Justin Massler, a serial stalker with diagnosed mental illness, who was arrested in 2010 for stalking President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and who previously targeted the Kardashians. In a gripping interview with Moriarty, Massler displays behavior that veers between sane and pure rage.
“For me, being stalked is similar to having your head held under water,” says Lenora Claire, who has been stalked by Massler for nearly six years. “You can’t breathe. You can’t scream ‘cause no one’s going to hear you. And you’re just – you’re waiting for it to be over.”
Claire says she lives in constant fear that Massler could “rape me, kidnap me, kill me, gas me, go after my friends, go after my family. It’s just crept into every part of my life.”
Stalking is often a silent crime with victims frequently afraid to speak out, fearing doing so will further enrage their stalker, something Perrette knows well.
“I’m so scared sitting here talking about it,” Perrette tells Moriarty. “It puts the same fear into every victim. But we can’t keep this a secret. We have to be courageous. We have to get these laws changed. I’m here for other victims. I’m here for the next victim.”
Perrette adds that most people think only celebrities are stalked because that’s what they see in the news. “But people are stalked every day, in every town in America,” she tells Moriarty. Perrette says she was completely terrorized, and when she reached out for help, she found law enforcement was slow to take her seriously.
“I was told by a police officer once that I should have stayed and let my stalker break my arms so then they would have something to prosecute,” Perrette tells Moriarty. “And at the root of it all is that people do not take stalking seriously.”
The experience put Perrette on a path to seek help for future stalking victims by working to get laws changed and to give police more ways to stop the harassment. She’s banded together with other victims and is actively meeting with congressional representatives to change the laws and raise awareness within law enforcement.
“The first victimization is being stalked and terrorized, and the second victimization is that the system does not work for stalking victims,” Perrette says.
“You never know who’s watching you,” says California Deputy District Attorney Wendy Segall. “And you don’t know who’s watching you over the internet. You’re out there in a way that you never were before.”
48 HOURS: “Stalked” is produced by Liza Finley, Ruth Chenetz and Sarah Prior. Peter Schweitzer and Greg Fisher are the senior producers. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.