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SENATE COMMITTEE SEEKS WAYS TO TARGET STALKERS

Sandra Poland doesn't want to wait until her daughter's stalker has "done something" before law enforcement officials can stop him.

But many states don't have laws against "stalking" itself and can stop the harassment only if it is part of another crime.The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering legislation that would require the National Institute of Justice to evaluate anti-stalking proposals and come up with model legislation for states to implement.

In the past few years, 28 states have implemented anti-stalking legislation as attention focused on the issue with the murder of actress Rebecca Shaeffer and the harassment of late-night TV talk show host David Letterman.

"Unfortunately, many of these statutes are so broad that they may not pass constitutional muster or are so narrow they may be ineffective," said Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, and sponsor of the legislation.

Cohen said Tuesday that an estimated 90 percent of stalkers suffer from some form of mental illness.

Poland told senators that her West Paris, Maine, family tried all the existing legal avenues and couldn't get relief. A man has been stalking her daughter Kimberly for eight years, since she was 16 and her picture appeared in a local newspaper, her mother told the committee.

Despite temporary stays in mental health facilities and arrests on other charges, the man returns to hound her and has violated restraining orders repeatedly, she said. But the district attorney says nothing can be done to him until he has "done something."

"What is the `something' they must wait for him to do?" Poland asked. "Kidnap Kimberly? Rape her? Kill her? Would you be willing to sit back and wait for this to happen to your daughter or your son?"

Victim Jane McAllister of Richmond, Va., said the man who stalked her for 18 months stopped in April, when Virginia made stalking a crime.

After a chance meeting, he began following her, calling her and pledging his love to her. The he joined her health club and started taking flying lessons where she had earned her private pilot's license.