A Victim of Cyberstalking Looking for Justice in Moore County
***Writers note 1: The information in this commentary was provided by the victim. I have obtained several email communications between the victim and the Pinehurst Police Department to verify the information I have been given. Other sources for this piece include five separate private citizens who have reported being either harassed or photographed in public by Mr. Pedersen.
***Writer's note 2: For those who will accuse me of "slandering" or "stalking" Mr. Pedersen, I would simply point out that Mr. Pedersen is a public figure. He has inserted himself into the public realm by spearheading a campaign to remove certain books and resources from our public schools. His efforts have been covered widely in both the state and local press. You can not "stalk" a public figure simply by following their public appearances and their social media pages. I have never contacted Mr. Pedersen personally. As far as slander goes, the evidence available has supported all of my allegations. Public figures are treated differently under NC's slander and defamation laws. I have first hand knowledge of this, as *I* am also a "public figure."
That's how long a private citizen in Moore County had been harassed and stalked by a public figure and political leader in this county. That's how long this victim has been trying to get help from local law enforcement. Even now, when an Assistant District Attorney in Moore County has stated that elements of cyber stalking are present and a Moore County Magistrate has issued a criminal summons, this victim still can not seem to get any justice or any protection for himself or for his family.
In April of 2021, the victim received his first threatening message from James Pedersen. He and Pedersen had been exchanging heated words in the comments section of a public Facebook page and Mr. Pedersen sent him a friend request. When the victim asked Mr. Pedersen why he had sent the request, Mr. Pedersen answered that it was an attempt to get the victim's personal IP address so that his location could be found. On April 28, 2021, the victim reported his uneasiness with Mr. Pedersen stating he was trying to locate him to Pinehurst Police Chief Webb. That was the victim's first contact with police regarding Mr. Pedersen. Chief Webb assigned the case to Detective Chappell. The victim provided Detective Chappell with multiple screenshots and links to online profiles, but no action was ever taken. In January of 2022, the victim contacted Chief Webb and asked for an update. Chief Webb indicated that Detective Chappell didn’t have enough to go on. Eventually the case was closed
On October 14, 2022, the victim contacted Chief Webb again. Mr. Pedersen had contacted the victim repeatedly after being told not to (both with his real Facebook account and a troll account named “Sam Adams”). In addition, the victim reported that Mr. Pedersen had made subtle threats against members of the victim’s family online. Chief Webb spoke to Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Pedersen claimed that the victim had stalked him and taken his picture outside the Republican Party Headquarters in Taylortown. The victim denies ever photographing Mr. Pederson and the available evidence backs up that claim. Chief Webb then assigned the case to Detective Hineline. The victim provided Detective Hineline with multiple screenshots of recent harassing communications. Detective Hineline spoke to Mr. Pedersen, who admitted to “going back and forth” with the victim on social media, but denied owning the anonymous “Sam Adams” account. Detective Hineline showed the screenshots of the harassing behavior to Moore County Assistant District Attorney Nunnery. Nunnery advised that there was evidence of “elements of cyberstalking” in Mr. Pedersen’s behavior. ADA Nunnery suggested Detective Hineline instruct the victim to take his evidence to the Moore County Magistrate and request a private warrant or summons. The victim visited the Magistrate’s office on November 4, 2022 and the Magistrate issued the requested summons. The victim was advised that the Moore County Sheriff’s Department would serve the summons to Mr. Pederson and that the first court date would be on December 12, 2022.
However, there is currently no evidence that the summons has been served to Mr. Pedersen. Pedersen claims he hasn’t received it, and Mr. Pedersen’s name doesn’t appear on the Moore County Court calendar. When the victim expressed concern to Detective Hineline that the summons hadn’t been served a full week after it was issued, the victim was advised to contact the Sheriff's department directly and ask them to please serve the summons before the court date passed.
I realize that many of my readers are wondering why I decided to write this commentary. After all, a summons for misdemeanor cyberstalking isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Having said that, this is but one piece of a much larger picture clearly showing a pattern of disturbing behavior from Mr. Pedersen.
James Pedersen has at least three profiles under his own name on Facebook. He has also been caught red handed using other fake names on social media. He uses those fake profiles to get around being blocked by so many social media users and groups. There is documented evidence of this.
Pedersen falsely accused the victim of taking his picture in a public place (which isn’t a crime - no one has an expectation of privacy in a public place) but PEDERSEN is the one who has been spotted taking pictures of private citizens in public places on at least four separate occasions (at the community vigil in remembrance of January 6th, at a community prayer vigil for Ukraine, at a women’s rights march in Southern Pines, and at a women’s rights event at the Moore County Courthouse). At least two women report having been made very uncomfortable by Mr. Pedersen following them around at these public events taking their picture. Several other women also reported that Mr. Pedersen took their pictures, but didn’t indicate that they were bothered by it. This behavior is most disturbing because Mr. Pedersen and several of his known associates have stated on social media that they intend to take pictures of women at these events in order to “identify and locate leftists.”
Finally, Mr. Pedersen has stated repeatedly and in public that he intends to make Moore County an “uncomfortable place for leftists to live.” He has told the world what he intends to do, and he is doing it successfully. He has repeatedly contacted and harassed people after being clearly told not to. He creates fake social media profiles in order to troll and harrass people who have blocked him. He follows and photographs women who he believes to be “leftists” in order to “identify” them. He sends direct messages to private citizens declaring he is attempting to use their IP addresses to “locate” them.
This ONE victim has managed to get some measure of justice with a summons for cyberstalking issued by the Magistrate. I suppose now we just have to wait and see if the summons is ever served and if the court date of December 12 actually happens. I guess we also have to wait and see who will be the next victim - the next “leftist” Mr. Pedersen decides to make “uncomfortable” in their own community and how many of his associates will join him in his cause.
In the meantime, I would hope that shedding light on these disturbing behaviors will at the very least help people to understand how frightening it can be when a victim is repeatedly harassed by a well known and much supported member of our most prominent political party and law enforcement doesn't seem to care.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.