- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A New Zealand woman has been pursuing charges in Kansas against a teenager she believes harassed her online.

Rachel Gronback, 31, lives in Auckland, New Zealand, where she blogs about “fashion, online shopping and body positivity.” Gronback said when she started receiving inappropriate online sexual messages and photos in November, she wrote about the experience on her blog. She was able to identify the suspect as a man who was then a high school student in Lawrence, The Lawrence Journal World reported (https://j.mp/295iRqJ).

She recently filed a report with Lawrence police.

“I want to have my experience treated with the seriousness it deserves and not be minimized into something I should just accept as a part of being a woman online,” Gronback wrote in an email.

In April, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson told Gronback his office is prepared to file a harassment charge against the suspect, but before a criminal charge could be filed, Gronback would have to be willing to appear in court in the case of a trial because the suspect is guaranteed the right to face his accuser. She would also have to pay most of the international travel expenses.

Gronback couldn’t afford the trip, but when Lawrence-area resident Ron Wilson heard about her dilemma, he contacted her, saying he would pay for her trip. Wilson said he wanted Gronback to see there are good people who live in the area as well if she needs to make the trip.

Police have said the teen is not a minor, but his name hasn’t been released because no charges have been filed. The criminal charge that can be filed against the suspect is harassment by telecommunications device, a misdemeanor, Branson said.

If the suspect is convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.

Although Wilson is offering Gronback a significant financial head start, she’s still shy of the required funds. Costs for food, layover accommodations and other expenses still loom, Gronback said.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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