On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FV-02-01655-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fisher and Sapp-Peterson.
Defendant appeals from a March 19, 2009 final restraining order (FRO) issued under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. We affirm.
On February 4, 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Chancery Division, Family Part, in Bergen County seeking the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Plaintiff alleged that she had been the victim of an act of harassment, namely, defendant, through online posting, was "referring to her" and also stating that "he is going to do the one thing left he wants to do and that is to get revenge." Plaintiff alleged further that defendant in the past had kicked her and "took a knife out on [her]" in the summer of 2005. The court issued the TRO and the matter was listed for hearing.
At trial, plaintiff testified that the parties started dating in 2005 when she was a sophomore and had dated regularly up until 2007. During 2008, plaintiff indicated that they saw each other but that "it wasn't a relationship." She admitted, however, that during some of those occasions, they did engage in sexual relations. She explained to the court that she wanted to remain friends with defendant. They spent New Year's Eve together in 2008, because she was at his father's home with defendant's sister and another friend. She testified that defendant had called her on New Year's Eve and wanted to come to her home. She suggested that he come to his father's house because she did not want him to come to her home. This was the last time that plaintiff saw defendant before learning about his online postings. The postings were not sent directly to her, but upon learning about the postings, she logged into defendant's page to read the postings because she was concerned about her well-being. Although the postings did not refer to plaintiff directly, plaintiff testified that she was the girl referenced in the postings.
Defendant testified that the postings about which plaintiff complained had been posted by him during a time when he was depressed, angry, "up and down," and that he wrote about his feelings in the postings. He denied that the writings were intended to threaten plaintiff or that the writings were directed at her. As for the reference to revenge in the writings, he testified that he "meant . . . more or less, the pain and suffering that they would feel by my loss and me no longer being here."
At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court issued an oral opinion finding that defendant's postings rose to the level of harassment by a preponderance of the evidence and that the issuance of the FRO was necessary to protect plaintiff against future acts of violence. The present appeal followed.
On appeal, defendant raises the following points for our consideration:
I. THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT TRIAL WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A FINDING BY THE COURT THAT THE DEFENDANT COMMITTED AN ACT OF HARASSMENT PURSUANT TO N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.
A. PLAINTIFF FAILED TO PRESENT ANY EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT A FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT'S PURPOSE IN WRITING ONLINE LIVEJOURNAL ENTRIES WAS TO HARASS THE PLAINTIFF.
B. PLAINTIFF FAILED TO PROVE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4(a) AND, THEREFORE, THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT ...