UCF Cyber Stalker's Sentence Not Harsh Enough, Victim Says
Kristen Pratt, the Florida college student who made headlines after she was stalked by a fellow student via Twitter and YouTube, says the sentence handed down to her stalker is not enough.
Patrick Macchione, 24, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison after pleading no contest to 19 charges of cyber stalking against Pratt while the two were students at the University of Central Florida.
Macchione stood accused of sending death threats to Pratt over Twitter and posting at least 27 lewd and threatening videos to her on YouTube in 2010. He also posted messages to her Facebook account and left hundreds of messages on her voicemail account.
"Fifteen years probation is really not that long," she said. "He's free to do whatever he wants, with an ankle bracelet, but, knowing his mental history, he could really make a plan to find me."
A Central Florida judge sentenced Macchione to four years in prison, but with credit for a little over two years time served, he will be in jail for 24 months, followed by probation.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Macchione to the maximum of 15 years in jail.
"It'll never be gone," she said of her fears that linger from the ordeal. "It's always going to be there. I'm always going to worry about something like this happening."
Pratt met Macchione in 2009 while the two were enrolled as students at UCF. She told "GMA" the friendship started out as normal but quickly spiraled out of control.
"It was just as if somebody was trying to contact somebody they knew from high school," she said of their initial online conversations. "All of a sudden it got really weird, fast."
Twitter messages sent by Macchione were presented as evidence during the trial, including one that read: "It is up to you now to save your life. I have no options. I will not be arrested."
He also sent Pratt texts and phoned her excessively, according to evidence presented during the trial, and directed her friends on Facebook to the lewd YouTube messages he also sent to her directly.
Macchione's first trial ended in a mistrial when he acted out in court and was declared incompetent by a judge. He later accepted the plea deal, but a doctor for the defense testified during the Friday sentencing hearing that Macchione continues to suffer from severe mental illness.
Macchione's lawyers asked for outpatient treatment instead of jail for their client. Instead, the 24-year-old will face time behind bars before beginning his probation, during which he will not be allowed to use a computer with access to the Internet.
In court on Friday, Macchione expressed regret for his actions.
"I want to apologize to her, definitely for scaring her," he said. "And I want to point out I never did any physical danger to her."
Pratt said she is still today, two years later, recovering from the incident, and still lives in fear that a cyber stalker could strike again.
"There are times when even if a friend texts me too many times, or if I get a couple of messages on Facebook that I'm not comfortable with, even if it's friendly by anybody else's standards, I immediately get nervous," she said on "GMA."
"I'm just now being able to have friends that I'm able to handle on a daily basis," she said. "I get so frustrated that I feel this way because I'm used to being so strong and would love to be able to trust people."