Elkhart County man accused of stalking, harassing 16 victims
ELKHART COUNTY —
"It’s offensive. It's hurtful. It's graphic. It's frightening," said Eric Tamashasky, of the Cyber Crimes Unit.
That's what police say at least 16 women felt at the hands of David Eash.
The 21-year-old Elkhart man is facing 16 counts of stalking and harassment.
Police say Eash actually contacted more than 70 women.
They say each of those messages or calls were sexually explicit and even threatening. Police say, what made the situation even scarier for the victims is the fact that Eash used an anonymous texting app called "TextMe."
"There are a number of people who walk around this world thinking 'This is part of being on the internet. You just have to accept guys are going to send you these messages ' and deal with it. But, it doesn't have to be that way," said Tamashasky.
Tamashasky is a Deputy Prosecutor with the St. Joseph County Cyber Crimes Unit.
He says, this investigation got started when a Bethel College student said stalking and harassment don't have to be a part of the internet.
After talking to that victim, detectives say they found dozens more.
"I can't think of a case locally where we've had 16 different victims come out of a single charging document for one person's repeated stalking or harassment or abuse of them," said Tamashasky.
Those charging documents show a month of calls and texts from Eash to more than 70 women.
The texts include threats of rape and derogatory names. The calls are arguably worse.
Two victims say it sounded like Eash was masturbating while he spoke to them. But the women say they never knew who was on the other end of the line.
"You don't know who it is and it basically makes you question everybody in your life. That’s really one of the frightening and scary things about how these particular apps and how these particular types of communication happen," said Tamashasky.
Tamashasky says, Eash could face up to 14 years behind bars, but he wants to see more justice than that for the victims.
"One of the things that we might be able to provide them is peace of mind of we know who is doing this. We know who they are and we know where they are," said Tamashasky.
Whatever Eash's fate, Tamashasky says he wants to send a clear message.
"This behavior is not appropriate and though it may seem like some childish boyhood prank, they can be felonies," said Tamashasky.
Court documents say many of the victims felt threatened by the text messages, that they might be approached by the caller in real life.
Tamashasky says it's natural to be curious when receiving explicit messages or calls. You want to know who's on the other line, but that may just encourage the perpetrator.
Tamashasky says the best approach is probably to just not respond and block the number.