By Tony Gordon Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
Lake County officials have charged a 68-year-old Indiana man with sending harassing messages in computer chat rooms to a woman he once dated.
Paul Swinford of Highland, Ind., surrendered Tuesday on a warrant charging him with harassment through electronic communications.
Lou Archbold, an investigator with the Lake County State's Attorney's office, said a 60-year-old Zion woman Swinford once dated filed a complaint with his office last month.
Archbold said Swinford had been using a variety of screen names and signing in to computer chat rooms he knew the woman frequented.
Swinford made a series of insulting and derogatory remarks about the woman in messages he sent to her in the chat rooms, Archbold said.
She obtained a court order of protection on March 10, 2003, that prohibited Swinford from contacting her in any way, Archbold said.
The woman suspected Swinford was the author of the messages, Archbold said, because they made references to information only he would know about her.
Archbold obtained subpoenas for account information about the screen names and traced them all to Swinford.
An arrest warrant was issued last week for Swinford. Archbold said he telephoned Swinford and asked him to turn himself in. Swinford did so, and Associate Judge Victoria Martin released him on a signature bond after a court hearing Tuesday morning.
Swinford's next court date is Oct. 25. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted, Archbold said.