Edmonton

'Scared to turn on my computer': Victim describes months of harassment

The sentencing hearing of Amanda Wowk started Friday with victim impact statements read by the family she harassed for months through a campaign of phone calls, voicemails, emails, and social media.

Victim impact statements read during sentencing hearing

Victim impact statements were read Friday in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench. (Cort Sloan/CBC)

An Edmonton man described in court on Friday the toll months of  "harassment and ultimate betrayal" had on him and his family.

"The sheer nature of the email content was so malicious in nature it was hard to fathom how one could come up with this material," said the man, who can't be named because of a publication ban.

The man told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Stephen Hillier about the harassment.

From Dec. 1, 2016 to May 16, 2017, the victim and his family received phone calls and voicemails from an automated voice accusing the man of being unfaithful and telling his wife to divorce him, according to an agreed statement of facts.

The harassment also included hundreds of emails, some of which were sent to the man's business contacts. 

"Since the start of this, I've suffered from mental anguish, stress, depression and suicidal thoughts," the man told court.

"Day after day, I was scared to turn on my computer or phone to see the daily distribution of emails and what new names were now on the list."

Fraudulent Impersonation

Amanda Wowk, 23, pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and fraudulent impersonation on June 3.

Wowk and the victim met through a fitness group in 2015.

An Edmonton police file was opened due to the harassment in late 2016.

The harassment continued, with Wowk creating a fake email account for an Edmonton police officer, court heard.

A fraudulent email was also sent from the victim's email address to the detective working on the case. The email asked police to put an end to the investigation, according to the agreed statement of facts.

After her arrest in May 2017, Wowk told police she had conducted the harassment because she felt the couple was "not in a happy marriage and she wanted to help them realize that they would be happier if they divorced," according to the agreed statement of facts.

Crown Prosecutor Stephanie Brown told the court Friday that a presentence report shows Wowk told a doctor the harassment had freed the victim to spend more time training with her.

The Crown is asking for 15 to 18 months of incarceration followed by probation.

Defence attorney Deborah Hatch argued for an extended probation over incarceration, citing Wowk's age, the detrimental impact on her future, her community involvement, her guilty plea and her having taken full responsibility.

She also cited the pre-sentence report, which concluded Wowk was at "very low risk" to re-offend.

Hatch also asked that if her client were to be imprisoned, that the sentence begins at a time not detrimental to Wowk's post-secondary studies.

Wowk is set to graduate in April 2020.

The matter will be before the courts for sentencing on Nov. 7.