Now the former Bethlehem man faces new charges for cyberstalking the person who prosecuted him. Elonis also allegedly cyberstalked his ex-girlfriend and his ex-wife.
Elonis, 37, rose to infamy from his Facebook posts where he suggested he’d harm his ex-wife and an FBI agent and go on a school shooting rampage where he’d target a kindergarten class and elementary schools. The posts went up prior to the filing of threat charges in 2010.
He was convicted in 2011 of four counts of making terroristic threats and sentenced to 44 months in federal prison.
He also posted about blowing up Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom but that threat was deemed too vague to be taken seriously, according to jurors. Elonis maintained the threats were rap lyrics he wrote to vent his frustrations. He wrote them under his persona, “Tone Dougie.”
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court determined jurors were incorrectly instructed Elonis could be found guilty if a reasonable person would foresee that his statements would be interpreted as a threat. The court ruled 8-1 that that instruction wasn’t sufficient to warrant a conviction.
The case was remanded to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined the flawed jury instruction wasn’t serious enough to warrant throwing out Elonis’ convictions.
Now, Elonis is charged with three counts of cyberstalking.
Court papers filed July 21 say Elonis sent a series of disturbing emails to the prosecutor from his threats case between January and December 2020. He’s also accused of making repeated phone calls, leaving voicemails, sending text messages and emails to his former girlfriend between 2018 and July 2021 and to his ex-wife after 2019. He also sent bizarre tweets targeting each of them, court records say.
The prosecutor, ex-girlfriend and ex-wife are not identified in court papers.
He first emailed the prosecutor Jan. 5. The email contained sexually explicit photos of Elonis and his remarks, “Please accept them in lieu of a burning cross. Sincerely, Your Powerful Tool, Anthony Elonis,” according to the indictment. Another email sent Jan. 30 said in part, “You were and always will be my co-conspirator.” Subsequent emails referenced Adam Lanza, the man behind the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre. They continued through December 2020.
In addition to the electronic communications, Elonis is accused of banging on his ex-girlfriend’s car and the windows and doors of her home, demanding to be let in, records say. He allegedly sent a sexually explicit photo of her in a tweet.
He allegedly rang the doorbell late at night at his ex-wife’s home and left an Elmo doll as a gift on their wedding anniversary, records say.
Elonis’ attorney, Katrina Young, didn’t immediately respond to an email and voicemail left Sunday.
A three-count federal grand jury indictment was filed July 21, according to online court records. An arrest warrant was issued July 23. Elonis was arrested Thursday in Bethlehem, records say. He is being detained in federal custody. A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 5.
Court records filed after the U.S. Supreme Court decision say Elonis was released from prison at that time to a Freemansburg address.
Rudy Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.