Many of the nearly 100 women who claim to have been sent lewd photos on Facebook by the same Saugus man gathered outside the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station on Saturday afternoon to formally file police reports and to join in solidarity with one another.
The women were of diverse ages and backgrounds, but the thread was common — the same Saugus man who, for legal reasons can’t be named, had sent them hundreds of unsolicited photos of his genitals over a period of roughly eight years.
“Women in Santa Clarita have been affected by this man for years,” said Dana Shultz, one of the 90 or so women who had reportedly been targeted by the man in question. “Many women were targets because they went to school with him.”
On Saturday, however, these women decided to strike back against the man who, many said, had haunted them for years.
“This is a gathering of women that the leaders of the Facebook group have gathered just to show the magnitude (of the situation),” said Brett Haddock, who helped to organize the demonstration. Haddock confirmed that the Facebook group through which they assembled, titled “Stop (suspect’s name),” has reached over 400 members.
“We know of 85 to 90 confirmed cases of online harassment, dozens of cases where’s he’s gone into physical proximity or he’s blackmailed women by getting their photos,” he added. “We want to put a face to the problem, a face to the victims, and try to get some justice for the women on the receiving end of this absolute monster in our town.”
One of these victims was Victoria Smith, who claims to have been harassed by the man on a number of levels, which went far beyond the lewd photos.
“My biggest thing with him was that he threatened to harm my son,” she said, looking over to her young children playing along the Sheriff’s Station’s railing. “He even went to the extremes of telling my friends and family what he wants to do to me.
“It’s hard for me to be a part of any of this because I don’t want him to message me,” she added. “That’s my fear, that this is just going to go on and on and on again.”
Smith had attempted to file a police report before emerging from the station to join the rally. However, she was informed by deputies that the statute of limitations had expired regarding the specific charge she sought, she said.
“When I was in there I wanted to cry because I felt like I wasn’t being listened to,” she said. “(They) need to listen to every single person and need to be more open to people (who) want to come forward.
“They pretty much told me that I waited too long,” she said, “but I still told them my story, that way they know what kid of person he is and what he’s doing, even currently to other girls.”
Sheriff’s Station officials reached out to social media to ask women to come forward last week, after a series of stories regarding the Facebook group began to spread in the community.
Despite a few setbacks some of the women at the rally discussed while filing the reports, many of the victims still felt the demonstration was beneficial and, even, therapeutic.
“It was nice to know that there are other people out there for support and who have been through the same thing,” Smith said. “It’s nice knowing that I’m not alone.”