Talking Stalking with Lenora Claire
In this episode of Reckoning, Kathryn Kosmides speaks with Lenora Claire about stalking. Lenora is the CEO of Lenora Claire Consulting LLC, a company that offers on-set victim/survivor liaison services and consulting on content, and providing experts for on-camera and in-person speaking engagements. Lenora Claire Consulting LLC facilitates respectful treatment and depictions of victims and survivors in true crime media.
In this episode, Lenora discusses:
- Her experience having a celebrity stalker for 10 years
- The challenges of navigating the carceral system as a stalking victim
- Using her privilege to amplify the voices of other stalking survivors
- Tech-enabled stalking prevention
- How the law hasn’t caught up with stalking especially in the digital age
- Abuse of the civil courts
Welcome to RECKONING, a podcast that explores gender-based justice, safety, survival, and resilience in the digital age, through conversations with experts and advocates. I'm your host, Kathryn Kosmides the founder and CEO of Garbo, a tech non-profit building a new kind of online background check. Before we jump in, I'd like to warn our audience, that we have raw, honest conversations about gender-based violence, which may be too much for some listeners. Please put your safety and health above all else when listening.
Kathryn: Welcome back to another episode of Reckoning. Today we have Lenora Claire here with us. Lenora, can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your story?
Lenora: Yeah, it's a really, really long story, so I'll try to condense it. I'm sort of best known as being an advocate and activist. That's because I'm a lucky person who's a multi crime victim. My story, the one that people sort of know publicly, goes all the way back to 2011. And at that time I was a really different person. I mean, weren't we all? I had opened up an art gallery and gotten a ton of press in LA, where I live and I'm not sort of hyping myself up, it's relevant to the story. I was named one of the LA weekly people of the year, which was a great honor for somebody living in LA. And what I didn't know is a Schizoaffective - and I have to say that my dad was a psychiatrist and I'm not trying to stigmatize the mentally ill. I don't think all mentally ill people are in any way dangerous but this individual is, so I always have to sort of start there - a Schizoaffective man, with the birth name of Justin Massler, legally changed his name to Cloud Starchaser. So we could use both names interchangeably. He has been stalking Ivanka Trump out in New York, there were multiple arrests, he tried to kill himself in her store. There was a lot going on in there, but you know, in 2011 I'm living my life in LA and I'm not aware of any of this. So he jumps bail comes to LA, opens up the LA weekly, sees me, becomes fixated on me, he comes to my gallery. When you have a high tolerance for art shenanigans, someone dressed in a spacesuit seems like a good time. So I engage them in conversation and I could tell he was intelligent, but something was off. And then he looked at me and he said: "You look like Jessica Rabbit". And I said, "Oh, okay. I hear that sometimes." and he said "And I'm going to stalk you." and at first I was just taken aback. I was like, okay, weirdo. And I just kicked him out of the gallery. I didn't think much of it. You know, just sort of a weird situation. Then a couple of days later, a bunch of my friends started sending me links because again, these are the 2011s, Trump has hired bounty hunters to extradite him back to New York, to stand trial where he eventually went to Rikers Island for stocking Ivanka. So it was at that point, he started writing me were, which were originally just really nonsensical ramblings to my gallery.
And I wasn't that alarmed, I was just like that's sad for this guy at this point. And then I no longer felt sad when they started to rapidly escalate to very graphic rape and death threats. And at that point, I took them to the police and the police said, "Well, you know, you would qualify for a restraining order, but he doesn't live here. So no judge is really gonna probably grant you on those grounds. And even if they did, how are you going to serve this person?" So I was like, okay, that's frustrating. So that went on for a couple of years and I began to sort of normalize it because that's really all you can do. Just these, like, and when I say these are just horrific threats and they would come and rapid-fire because part of being a Schizoaffective, you've got bipolar, so the mania would come. So there'd just be these, like just this barrage of "I'm going to kill you, I'm gonna rape you, I'm gonna kidnap you" Every form of media you could imagine websites about killing and raping me, all that stuff. At that point, I started to think, okay, well I have to do some things to protect myself. So I learned how to do things like, you know, track his IP. So I could figure out where he was in relation to me because this person comes from a wealthy family. So he would bounce around all the time. So, you know, if he was far away, I could breathe for the day. And if he was in California, I was terrified. So I did that for a while and then, he sent a pretty terrible death threat to my boss and mentor.
At this point, I was working on reality TV. And when you work in reality TV, you're typically freelance. So even if they like you and there's trouble, they just don't bring you back, they don't renew your contract. And, you know, especially everybody in the office sort of googled my stalker and they saw that he had tried to kill himself in Ivanka's store and no one likes workplace violence. You work in a casting place where people come in and out, so everybody was really terrified. So I lost my job, but I was mostly, I wasn't even, you know, thinking about myself. I was just so angry and upset. My boss, who I really loved in regard to his family was getting death threats. So I went back to the place and I was like, you have to help me. I have mountains of rape and death threats when somebody with a long criminal history.
And that's when the Northeast division of LAPD looked at me and said, "Oh, well, you should probably dye your hair so that, you know, he can't find you and get off the internet." That was their advice to me. So at that point, I was so angry. Um, can I curse? Is that okay? I was like, fuck this, I work in TV, this is some bullshit. So I hit up my friend, Billy Jensen. Who actually, it's so funny because I've known him since back when he was like a music writer with emo bangs, but now he's a really big name in the crime world. He was one of the producers on I'll Be Gone in the Dark and he's solved a bunch of cold case murders and he's done incredible work. But you know, at the time he was producing a show called Crime Watch Daily.
So I went to Billy where I did my first media. And I was just like "This is crazy, this can't be". So that's actually a really big turning point for me because that TV appearance connected me with a woman named Rhonda Saunders. And Rhonda is a legend in the world of stalking. She's so incredible, she was the ADA at the time in 1989 when Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered. And so she was very instrumental in getting California - and ultimately it was the first in the entire country - I first saw the laws. So Rhonda became this wonderful friend and sort of mentor figure to me. And it was at that point that I started going, wait, these laws have barely been updated since that got passed in 92, we live in an entirely different world, this is crazy. So I started coming up with ideas for legislative proposals, which led me through my friend Pauley Perrette from NCIS to introduce me to Congressman Adam Schiff, who at that point, this is before he was, this is 2015, early 2016 before he was head of house intelligence committee and Congressman ship.
So he was my local Congressman and he was wonderful. And we'd meet on Sundays and go over stuff. And he took my proposals to DOJ. So all this stuff is going on and I'm getting, you know, angry and angrier, as I'm realizing that I've all this privilege. And it still sucks, this is terrible. Right? It's a common thing. Then there was an article that was written about me, I want to say came out maybe early 2017 calling me the Erin Brockovich of stalking and that was another big turning point for me because that article went viral. And at that point, people started coming to me for help. And so I was, you know, pulling trappers off cars. I was helping people get restraining orders.
I actually just did my 99th restraining order the other day. So that I'm kind of proud of that. I told myself I would stop counting at 99. Cause it's not like a frozen yogurt punchcard but I was like, once I know I've done that, I've done a lot. So I started doing restraining orders. I started doing human shield and court for people because if you've never had to go through the court process, people don't realize that you were there with the offender, you know, all day, there's nobody... I always have to tell the story about a woman that I saw. I was helping someone else get a restraining order. And I saw a woman who looked to be about my age, holding a baby with two black eyes. And so I see the offender. I don't know if he's her boyfriend, husband or whatever.
And he kept turning around and mad dogging her until eventually she just ran up left. And I just thought to myself: this cannot be! So that's when I started doing human shield and I actually get a lot of, um, you know, survivors to come to do it with me because it's really empowering to like, be like turnaround asshole. You know, when you've got like a whole gang of girls around someone. So I started doing that. And it's when Erin Brockovich goes viral and then people start coming to me literally every day. And at first, you know, you go through those like imposter syndrome things. You're like, well, I'm not law enforcement. I'm not a lawyer. I'm not this, but at the bare minimum, you know, I'm someone who's gone through it. I can be an understanding empathetic ear.
So at the bare minimum, I'll provide them something where maybe they're well-intentioned friends who like want to give them good advice but haven't actually experienced it. Like maybe I can help them in that way. But then I started to realize, no, actually I'm able to give people really useful information, whether it's how restraining orders work or how to navigate law enforcement, the judicial system. So then we start filming our 48 Hours episode, which was a two-hour special on stalking. And so as we're filming it, it was me and three other women, while we're filming it, 48 Hours decides without telling me, to interview my stalker which I have the thing nobody has, which is our stalker acting completely batshit, totally like is before this, every time I had done media, people would look at me and go, that girl just wants attention. And it's like, are you kidding me?
I've been on TV on and off. Since I was five, I'm not someone lacking for attention. This is not what's happening here. So as soon as 48 Hours interviews him, and as soon as they see that footage, they send it to someone who's now a good friend of mine. This legendary, a forensic psychologist, Kris Mohandie. He was like forensic psych on OJ. And he's got a great book. He did the largest study of stalkers in North America, he interviewed a thousand of them. So if you really want to understand the psychology behind stalking, he's the man, you should really look into his work. But so Chris sees the footage and goes: "Oh, this one's right. He's a danger. This is it, absolutely she's at risk". So 48 hours actually did more for me than the LAPD did at that point.
And they got him picked up in Utah and he was put into a psych facility, which was exactly what I wanted. I was like: that's a perfect solution, this is great. So, you know, for the first time, and what's at this point now five, almost six years, I'm finally not getting, so the other thing, my stalker, because I'm Jewish swings right on one side is where the erotic mania is where he thinks we're in a relationship and he's in love with me. And I'm his wife and whatever. And the other side is because I was Jewish. I'm the leader of a Zionist conspiracy. So he has to gas me through my door Zyklon B, which is what killed my relatives in the Holocaust. So imagine trying to sleep, you know, in your life. It's I still have insomnia probably for the rest of my life, sleep issues are really bad for me.
But he's in the psych facility and I'm finally like: "Ooh, I can sleep a breathe, this is wonderful". And then right at that point, that's when Trump wins the election, I'm devastated, all my friends are devastated. It's about a week later, I'm walking my dog and I'll never forget this moment because I'm literally like picking up the dog poop when they get a call and it was the secret service and LAPD. They were calling to inform me that my stalker had actually escaped from the mental facility because he's like the joker from Batman, and he was on the loose. And I always jokingly say that I was the one person to benefit from the Trump presidency because I won the stalking lottery and that now I share a stalker with his daughter. So now people kind of have to give a shit about my case, right?
So that's when they called me and I thought: "Oh my God, oh my God. He knows I put them in there. Like, this is terrible". But then I thought, no, wait, you know what? He's going to be so hyped on Ivanka right now. And that's exactly what happened: he was caught a block away from Trump tower when he wasn't even allowed to be in New York. So then I'm thinking, okay, great. He's going to get some real-time. Like we're good. Unfortunately, New York has really garbage stalking laws. And I think you have one of the worst in the entire country actually. He got out very shortly after and then he came to LA actively looking for me, telling me he was going to kidnap me. He actually called my dog Rumor, tried to kidnap my dog. At that point in 2017, I had just started dating my now-husband. And so luckily he's a lawyer who works in entertainment, so he's used to crazy things, but he starts calling, you know, my husband's law firm. He goes to where I get my eyelashes done, leaves, notes, scares all the women. It's just so intense and awful. And I'm doing as much as I can to help other people but nobody's helping me, you know? I'm like I guess I just asked to the wind here, figuring it out. So then my stalker writes me and says: "I know you attend L.A. Comic Con. I'm going to kidnap you from there".
So, Kim Kardashian had these like really cool ex-Mossad security guys at the time. Because he was stalking Kim Kardashian as well. And so I thought, for sure, they were going to catch him. I was like: "Nobody is tougher, those guys will do it". And that's not what happened. What actually happened was: I set up an operation with L.A. Comic Con and we hired extra security dressed as Batman and Superman because we didn't want to scare the kids. Everybody was safe. This is all I got to say: they did a great job. And sure enough, when he came to kidnap me, we caught him, Batman and Superman held him down and then waited for LAPD to come and pick him up. And that's what happened. So LAPD picks him up and then you can see it if you Google it: Kim Kardashian gives her restraining order, which we knew.
Then out of nowhere, to my surprise, Gwyneth Paltrow gives a restraining order. And I have to be very careful cause I don't know exactly what happened, but something happened with him and her children. I've heard that lie he went to the school... I just have to be careful. I'm married to a defamation attorney, I'm very careful with my language. But something went down with him and the kid enough to merit a restraining order with Gwyneth Paltrow. So then it took a year, right? He's in holding for a year, nothing happens. People think justice moves quickly, it doesn't. So I did all my own discovery, again. Everybody thinks my lawyer husband did it. I'm like: "No, he's making his high rate per hour. He's working on that. I'm the one doing this. I'm learning. I'm learning how to do it all by myself". Then I got him on felony stalking max, which is really as good as it gets. The unfortunate thing is so in California, felony stalking max is four years. However, we had a proposition 57, which was very misleading and I see people voted for it because it was sort of put out there as non-violent offenses get an early release.
So any sensible person hears that and will be like: "Oh, weed like, whatever, I don't care". What they don't explain to you are the crimes that California considers nonviolent, which include rape of an unconscious person for sodomy, human trafficking, hate crime stalking. So my four years instantly became two. He got out in December and within three days he was making YouTube videos on me. He's gone back in several times. Yesterday he started calling my nonprofit. He's wearing an ankle monitor, but this is 10 years of my life. So just to break down some statistics with stalking: the CDC and these crimes are always underreported, but they say at 7.5 million Americans and I'm in the 3% anomaly where it's a stranger, usually it's an intimate partner with like domestic violence overlap. That's more common. That's, that's what you normally see. But with this situation, you know, also another shocking statistic it's in stocking months. All this information should be hopefully getting out there. They usually last about two years. Mine... I'm on year tenth.
Kathryn: Oh wow, I didn't know that.
Lenora: That's the average. Again, I'm always extra. So here I am at my 10 years and I have friends who are 15 and more so there's, there's a lot of reasons for that and a lot of factors, but so I'm still dealing with it. I, I always say it's not done until one of us dies. I truly believe that, but it's become a real mission for me to sort of this can't be for nothing. If I explain the things I've lost in my life, I used to own art galleries, I can't do that anymore. I can't be this public person where anyone can just... I can't do that. So it's completely altered the course of my life, but just how I live. I pivoted to other things much, much like yourself, you know, you go through some stuff and you're just like, it's can't be for nothing, I have to help other people. So now I'm involved with the creation of a nonprofit that we just launched. It's called The Victim Advocacy Project. I sort of handle the restraining orders, the human shield stuff and, Melissa handles victims compensation, which for people who are not familiar with it, almost every state has these programs. But in California, for example, if you're a victim of a violent crime and you have all the sort of proper documentation, you can get $5,000 of therapy, $2,000 to relocate if the crime happens in your house. And up to $70,000, if there are violent, awful injuries sustained, and you need medical care. So there's a lot of programs that, let me tell you, nobody told me these things existed. You know, it wasn't until I sort of gone into the advocacy side that I found this for myself.
So we just kind of wanted to do that. And I'm actually also working right now on creating. We don't know if it's going to be a pack or an alliance, but it's going to sort of work on the led. People don't understand. It's like Ghostbusters who can't cross the streams, non-profits, can't be political. And I'm, that's very much where my passion is right now because it's either prevention, which is where you come in, which is why, when I met you, I was just so excited, this is incredible. And then if the prevention, you know, if you didn't have that, which a lot of us don't, and the crime occurs, then now we need to strengthen the laws because that's the necessary steps. So that's kind of what I'm focused on right now.
Kathryn: What a journey you've been on. And the fact that it's been a 10-year journey. And so life-altering, I think that's what people don't realize is how life-altering, stalking and harassment can be. You don't get to live the life that you had planned for yourself. And that's something that I personally experienced. I had my life, I was a director of marketing, you know, everything was going good. And then it happened to me and I, you know, lost my job. I had to pivot into consulting. So he couldn't find my clients because he would email any client that he possibly found. And so I had to be really quiet and this is not the life that, that I wanted to live. And as you said, when you take your pain and do something with it, a lot of people are either fully on your side and understand it - and most of the time they're victims or survivors themselves - or you do get those people who are like: "You're all doing it for attention and press".
And my abuser says the same thing, that this is all attention that I'm trying to be a #metoo character and get my hall of fame sticker, I guess in 15 minutes of fame. And I'm like: "Yes, I totally planned for you to stalk and harass me for years just so I could become famous". Like the logic, the logic... but something that you bring up there is the power of media. And I think that is so true where the legal system lets you down over and over and over again and can't prosecute or like New York has the worst stalking laws. The power of media can come in and tell your story and tell what happened to you. And therefore that becomes a public record in and of itself. And that's documentation of the crime itself, which is so important. It's that paper trail that, that people must build.
Lenora: Yeah. I actually I always be really honest. I've nothing to hide here. I'm positive that it was my appearance on 48 Hours and the media that came after it — I do Dr. Oz and all the talk shows and everything. That's what got my case elevated. So LAPD does not have a stocking unit, that doesn't exist. But they have the TMU, the threat management unit, which is stocking for celebrities. No one told me about this until I was on TV and making a big [scene], it's like I got the best LAPD had to offer. It's like, wait a second, so celebrities who live in gated communities who have security guards and access to all these things, they get the special unit. Okay, great. That makes a lot of sense. The other thing that we talked before [about] was we both recognize that we're sitting on mountains of privilege, right?
We were able to, [but] what about everybody else who isn't able to pivot into other careers? We're white women who will get media, and so that's why I always say I have to be twice as loud for everyone who can't because the other thing specifically with my story is I have that disconnect because this is not somebody that I was in a relationship with. So I'm just like, he's a crazy man. I have that weird, emotional barrier. It's so much more complicated, cause I've also experienced DB too. So I've seen both sides. They're very different. A lot of times, let's just say, you're a woman, who's got a child with this person. You gotta deal with custody no matter what they did to you. That is so brutal.
So that person can't come forward for obvious reasons. So I just recognize that all these things lined up for me, that I'm in a position where I'm trained. I work in TV. Like I know how to do this. I'm just going to be really, really loud for everybody. So yeah, the media is— like even today, like this morning, I'm turning in an op-ed for LA times. Anyone who gives us a platform I'm just so appreciative of because especially stocking I'd really think it's where sexual assault was in the seventies. Just the lack of understanding. The only time that you usually hear stocking stories are when they're celebrities. We don't relate to that. When you're just like, oh, this thing is happening to Gwyneth Paltrow, what does that have to do with me? So anytime I meet and connect with other survivors like yourself, I'm always just like, it's so awesome to see people— it's not awesome that we're like sisters in this really fucked up sorority, but it's amazing. That's why when we connect I was very excited to meet you.
Kathryn: Thank you so much. It's using that privilege. I always say— that's really how I found Garbo because I was sitting in a courtroom and I'm like, I'm white, I'm educated. I am, attractive in all sorts of concepts, et cetera, et cetera. I have access to $150,000 to defend myself, what the fuck is it like for the average person. The average person can't do any of this. They have to just hide and run and try and get new devices. The police are useless, especially when it comes to this. Not in person stalking, like cyber-stalking and things like that, where it sounds like that's kind of where your started was. He saw you and then started sending letters and things like that and then showing up in person.
That's how it's escalating now. Like you said, people don't understand stalking. They don't understand that cyberstalking is not just a red flag, it is stalking in and of itself. It is dangerous and it's scary and it puts you on an emotional roller coaster and then it escalates because these folks always escalate into additional bad behaviors. It escalates into actually showing up in person. And my abuser had access to my calendar. That's how he was finding out who I was hanging out with. He had must've given itself [access] when we were in the relationship, he was adding everyone that I would talk to on LinkedIn and email them. Then he would show up in a few places that I was at. Luckily I was always with another person because I was scared at all at the time.
No, it's very crazy how it escalates and it, and it usually starts with something small, those kind of red flags in a typical stalking situation— yours is much different, but in a typical stocking situation where it is usually a partner or a scorned lover or something like that. There are all of these red flags leading up to it and that's from having access to your cell phone and wanting your passwords to everything, and then having to turn on your location. These are all things that I personally experienced and looking back, I'm like, wow, I should've seen this coming, but it's sad that I was 22, 23 years old when this [happened]. I was a baby. I had no idea of the legal system and the only reason that my— you said the media helped you get the attention of the police and things like that— mine was, I somehow got connected to the mayor's head of security and they called in a favor. That's insane that you have to know someone who knows someone who knows someone to seek any sort of justice and anyone I've talked to it's the same story. The only way that they received any sort of justice, I put it very loosely is because they knew someone and that's the system that we live in.
Lenora: Yeah. The same thing happened with me, as I mentioned, my friend Paulie was the star of MCIs at the time, one of the top TV shows, she's who connected me to Congressman Schiff. That's who got me the deal. Like who has a TV star friend that gets them to a Congressman? That's so insane. It's so insane. That is completely unacceptable. One of the things that I just really love that you're doing is I have so much interest when we talk about cyberstalking and all the way that tech is used against us, which is usually used as a fear tech. But it's like, no, no, no. So now we can have all these great things like Garbo and everything else where we can make tech work for us.
So one of the things that I'm trying to propose here at the LADA's office is, for example, my stalker has an ankle monitor on him because the new LADA really wants to push away from incarceration. So if that's what— that's a whole other discussion, right? I'm against unnecessary incarceration, but there's some individuals that you want to remove their threat from the community. Those are completely separate things. How are we not able to differentiate stupid petty shit and the people who are going to kill you? It's pretty clear to me, but apparently, it's not so clear to everybody else. So what I want to do is I want to create a program where— we already have ankle monitors on these individuals— why can't I have an app that texts me if he's in proximity, giving me a warning, we have GPS on our phones. So that's why right now my interest is linking up with people like yourself.
And you're the ideal person for me to meet with because you're a survivor, who's coming up with solutions with tech. So I was just like, that's amazing. And I know there's others out there. And that's what we all need to be doing is supporting each other and doing this. But I did link up with that company, Flare, the one that makes the bracelets. So I'll be doing like some giveaways and stuff with them. They're interesting too, the way their thing works is it's Bluetooth connected to your phone with the bracelet. So you have to be within 10 feet for it to work, but you push a button and you're in danger and it alerts five of your friends if your GPS. So, there are interesting things that— I mean, you know more than me, I should let you talk about this. I want to hear what are you seeing with tech that you're finding that's exciting for victims?
Kathryn: I love it.
It's taking that power back, which like you said, tech is seen as this dangerous thing, especially for victims. And you're told to just get a new computer, get a new phone or, or whatever it is, or log off the internet. It's just crazy. So to be able to use tech for good is so empowering right now and I'm seeing so many amazing things. And like you said, what's great about this community is that we're all supporting each other. There's no competition here. We're all just trying to build better solutions to this major problem. So obviously Garbo is on the prevention side of things. We believe in access to information, access to public records and reports, knowing about that someone has a history of stalking or violence or whatever it may be, is very, very powerful because then you can make informed decisions about your safety.
So I'm all about prevention, but there are other solutions out there that are somewhat focused on prevention. I just saw this new app, that's crowdfunding, I'm blanking on the name of it, but they're on IFundWomen right now. And it's this app to help you warn of red flags in relationships and see if your relationship is dangerous. Because I think a lot of times we question is this a red flag, is this dangerous? So there's that. Calisto, I'm a huge fan of their work. They are a registry where anyone can put in what happened to them. It's locked, it's in a vault, no one can get an access to it. But if someone else reports the same abuser, you two are linked to a counselor and then you have an options counselor that you can go to the police, go to the media because it's the power of two people reporting versus just one person reporting.
So huge believer in that system, there are some other ones coming up as well. And like you said, the rings and the jewelry that's happening. It is innovative. I 50-50 see sometimes it leads to the whole, oh, an abuser is that dark person in the alley versus someone that you know. And so that's my thing with the jewelry is I see it, like if you're in a bad situation and your abuser is screaming at you, being able to, just to press a button and call 911 versus trying to pick up a phone and call 911 is powerful. There's just so much amazing tech and I think it's this movement to use tech for good. What I love is that all of this technology is being built by survivors. And what's key is understand the nuances of this, like building out Garbos platform, public records also contain victims' identities and things. So how do you balance wanting to protect the victim with having this be a public record? We've thought a lot about what information we put on the platform, what we don't put on the platform and things like that to ensure that we're thinking of everything that we possibly can to make sure that this really is tech for good.
Lenora: That's awesome.
That's the thing that keeps me going right now. Besides the community, but just seeing that there's so many smart women working together, and if we're fighting these very broken systems, then we're just going to come up with some solutions on our own.
Kathryn: Exactly, exactly. This system isn't going to work for us. We're going to work the system and we have to do that because it doesn't work. It's when we see it time and time again, play out. And again, only privileged people actually see any benefits from the system. So that's one of my questions is what is the most frustrating part about the legal system to you?
Lenora: Okay, many things I'll say right now in Los Angeles, so LAPD because of budget cuts and choices, they just completely dismantled their sex crimes unit. So we don't have that anymore. So it doesn't mean they're not investigating. They just shuffle you off to people who don't have the training and you're not a priority to them. So from the jump right from the intake, you're screwed. Then if you're fortunate enough, because like with sexual assault too there is that map. I don't know if you saw it. That was just put out about where the actual places to do rape kits are. I was appalled when I saw how few there were in Los Angeles. There's like four. You can't just go to any ER and ask for one of those kits. So if we're talking about this, umbrella of crime. Let's just start with the intake just to get the basics.
So if we're talking about like sexual assault, from a law enforcement side, you're not getting specialized people who understand you, stalking, nobody gets stalking. I mean, how many times I can tell you stories and people that I know who are very much at risk, who the desk cop just goes, oh shit talk, you'll be fine. It's like, excuse me, sir. Are you trained to evaluate this? Or actually a lot of places have a program called mosaic, which is just like a risk assessment tool and it's very biased. And it's like, oh, so you didn't listen to me the first place and then you punch some shit that wasn't really even accurate into a computer to tell me that I'm going to be fucking fine. Like, are you kidding?
So it's really gnarly. It's the lack of education for people that we need to even help with us evaluate when a credible threat is actually happening versus just someone being mean to us on the internet. You need to have those things in place. But as far as my personal frustration with the judicial system is that the laws are trash, that they were written so long ago before the internet. 1992, are you kidding me? That is not our world. These laws are largely written by white men who don't understand. And so you have to craft the language in a way — there's a story, something about when the first laws are being made that they had to come back and in the language it was something like credible threat and threats of sexual violence.
And they're like, no. Then the next year they just changed it to credible threat and threats of body harm. The men were like, I see your body harm, I don't fear rape. Like what? Every step along the way, you're literally challenged every step along the way. So that's why I always say you have to be your biggest advocate, because the only reason why I got my two years is that I'm serving a life sentence over here. He served two years. But the only reason I even got those two years, which in that time I got to have my wedding, which was just to say, I can have a wedding where I'm not afraid that he's going to kill me right afterwards, lucky me. It's just that you have to keep just being loud. I was turned away by police so many times and the crime was the same. It wasn't like the crime was later elevated. I was always at that same level of risk. So I don't even know how to answer that question. I get so fired up and pissed off. There's so many problems.
Kathryn: There's so many things wrong. It starts from the intake of trying to report a crime, all the way down to trying to get someone convicted and even what their conviction is because like you said, it automatically gets cut in half. Those crimes are not seen as violent crimes. It's crazy. I think more women like yourself need to be writing this legislation and need to change it from the inside out or else we're just going to continue seeing this trend. I don't know if you saw the recent headline of Columbia reinstating the guys who was found guilty of sexual assault on campus. They gave him an undisclosed amount of money and gave him his degree back because he was one of these Metoo Himtoo people. I think if we don't prosecute, if we don't hold people accountable for their actions, accountability is like a fundamental key word here at Garbo. If we don't hold people accountable for their actions, we're only going to see more of this happening. People continuing to push the line until— it's already an epidemic of how many women are murdered by stalkers and things like that and it's only going to get worse I think. It's only going to get worse unless there's people like you trying to change it.
Lenora: Totally and we could also talk about the parallels with everything going on with what just happened at the Capitol. It's as if Trump is looking at the country is as a woman, if— I can't have her, nobody can, it's that same sort of like entitled violence. It's a culture of that. If men don't understand it on the level of what's happening to us, we need to make them understand that when you allow this culture to exist, that's what it grows into. I saw those men and I'm just like, I know all of you, I know what kind of dude you are. I took this class this summer, it was taught by Reed Malloy- who's amazing, he's another like top of the top profiler- and it was on extremism and terrorism.
I took it because there was a section on incels. That's very relevant to the work that I'm doing. But as I sat and listened to this incredible course, I was like, no, there's so many. I always joke and say like, yeah, now I'm actually certified to say bad white men are very bad, which is true, I do hold a paper that says that. There is a huge, huge connect between all of that. So I think people really need to examine what that means, that entitlement, that ownership that not being accountable for your violence and just what this spirals into. So it's pretty terrifying.
Kathryn: Yeah. No, It is terrifying. The only thing that kind of gives me hope is people like you, people even like myself, being my biggest advocate has been the hardest thing. But the only thing that I have at the end of the day is my myself. It's kind of crazy. When did you start naming your abuser? Like naming him out loud and saying his name?
Lenora: Oh, so most people don't want to do that. My case was always weird because he had already been stalking Ivanka and other celebrities. So his name was already named. As a matter of fact, Daily Mail did an article without even talking to me because they pulled court records.
Kathryn: Yeah, New York Post did the same thing to me actually.
Lenora: I never had a choice and as soon as I realized, if I was like, oh, a crazy man is being crazy to me then, whatever. But if I was like Ivanka Trump's crazy man, everyone's like, oh, tell me more. So that worked for me. It's weird. I'm really into stuff, but then also I can't figure out how to make that not go there. For a lot of people, just the name is triggering and also for some people putting the name out there puts them more at risk. So a lot of the choices that I made are not right for everybody and that's why I really feel like, whether it's sexual assault, talking, reporting is not right
for everyone, it is remote. Everything's case by case, we're all individualized. You have to look at the gray. I personally am a fan of restraining orders. I think they're a necessary tool, but there's other people who are really against them. I have to respect that if that's what they feel is their choice. I just hate the idea of this one size fits all, anything for such individualized problems. But good question about the naming. I really didn't have a choice. It was there, but I will tell you a funny thing related to the name is that his legal name was Cloud Starchaser. I think he's going back to Justin Master. So every time I was in court, they'd be like Starchaser versus Claire. And then like everybody in the court would look at me and then Ivanka Trump. I'm not the crazy one. I'm actually not.
Kathryn: It's crazy. I go back and forth. The New York post article did name him because they just search court records. Literally the day I sued him civilly, the next day this New York Post article was out without talking to me or anything like that, my lawyers, et cetera. He counter sued me based on that article because it named him publicly. So I have never personally named him. I've made that choice because I am in a lawsuit right now against him. I sued him and he counter sued me. Anything that I say, even this podcast, will be used against me. Everything that I say is used against me in court. I think that one day I do hope to be able to say his name because I think naming is accountability as well. If no one knows his name, how do you know to stay away from him? Unless you have access to public records easily and can see his past history of behavior. It's a very personal, very individual choice. A lot of people on the flip side, like me are being sued for defamation when they do name their abuser. That's, what's insane to me.
Lenora: Yeah. I was going to say, I see a lot of abuse of the civil courts because for people that don't understand, like say you have a restraining order, you can't see that person, but if you sue them in civil court, you can. I see these like bullshit lawsuits. I have a friend I'll leave her name out of it, but she had so many bullshit losses against her from her ex. She got him named a vexatious litigant in California. He can't sue anybody because of how many [times] he literally [sued]. I think she told me that one of the times he sued her. He was like, I was thinking about you and I tripped on the sidewalk and I hurt myself about how mad I was like, really, sir? But he would do that because he would get off on seeing her in court and just having that sort of awful interaction. The abuse of the civil court is a real fun tool that I'm convinced they [would] almost be going on Reddit or 4chan and figuring out how to work the system because that is a trend that I'm seeing that I didn't use to see.
Kathryn: My abuser got classes. He had to take some classes to not stalk me anymore, essentially. All these classes taught him was how to be a better stalker because he came out of it and he started doing way more gray area stuff. And it's like, are you guys talking to each other in the hallway? How know to do this kind of stuff? It's insane. But, they have some sort of playbook that they all use because all abusers tactics are also the same. There there's a playbook of red flags. There's a playbook of mania. There's a forum or something that all of these [sic.] because it's all similar.
Lenora: Talking about naming, there is one group. I won't say their name because I actually am scared of them, but they're a particularly terrible men's group. I ended up at one point on a rape list. They put a bunch of forward-thinking feminists and they tried to dox us. I was good at concealing my identity, but what I want to do is I want to treat them like the terrorist that they are. They are an organized hate group and the hate group that they hate is women. Why are incels not treated that way? They are fucking terrifying.
Kathryn: I was very naive to the world before all of this happened to me. I was young and I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and then reality kind of hits of how insane some people can be and how far they will go to hurt you and try and ruin your life. I never realized how crazy some people are until it happened to me.
Lenora: Yeah. My friend, Catherine, who was also in 48 Hours with us, her stalker who's her ex, he decided to live in his car, whatever, the amount of restraining order feet it was, he measured out a thousand feet or whatever, and then lived in his car right there. He also put a tracker on her car. I tell people to don't click on suspicious links, they can get into your GPS. But also, one thing I always do like to sort of tell people [is] I am in an amazing marriage. I love my husband so much. I always tell people because I had been sexually assaulted, I've been through domestic violence and I had a stalker unrelated to it.
So I've just have a whole lot of trauma that I've worked through, but you can have happy endings, you can have healthy relationships. Especially when you're going through these things, you're like, I'm never dealing with anybody, just stay away from me. I definitely had that window of time, but I always have to say there are good partners out there. There are ones who can understand your trauma and know how to be a good partner to you and have loving, healthy relationships. If you would've told me that when I was in the thick of what I was going through, I never would have believed it, but here I am. So yeah.
Kathryn: There's light at the end of the tunnel. I do believe in trying to take every situation and make it the best that it can be and learn from it and grow from it. If you can, like us, use that pain to prevent the next crime from happening or the next thing from happening use it to make a change within the system. We all have power and I think we forget that as victims, but collectively we are changing laws and things are happening and there is movements. I just really want to thank you for all of the work that you're doing and that you've taken your broken hearts and all of the crazy shit that has happened to you and said no more.
Lenora: Right back at you. That's respect. I love it. When our mutual friend connected us, I was just so excited because every time, especially when you're being stopped, it's such a weird isolating existence. Even if you have a good support system, if they haven't been through it you just can't relate. So it's so incredible to just have these relationships. So similarly, thank you. But also like on a personal level it's really cool to have that sort of network of people. It's awesome.
Kathryn: So true. So true. Awesome. Is there anything else that you want to leave the audience with today? Any like lessons?
Lenora: I'm sure it's going to come to me as soon as we're done. So I don't know. I feel like we covered a lot, but if anybody needs help with this stuff, I'm super accessible, they can find me through my website or social media or through the nonprofit, which is https://vaphelp.com or just look up anything with Lenora Claire you'll find me on everywhere. I get on the phone with literally everybody who calls me. So if you just need to talk about it, I'm hearing you.
Kathryn: That's amazing and so necessary because at the end of the day, I think some people just need to talk to someone and have someone who knows what they're going through. So thank you so much for your time today.
Lenora: Yes, thank you.
Reckoning is a podcast produced by Garbo, a tech non-profit building a new kind of online background check. Our executive producer is Imani Nichols with whisper and mutter. Please subscribe to the show via your favorite podcast app. And as always, please send your questions and comments to hello@Garbo.io