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The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)
Wednesday, August 4, 1999
Author: BILL MORLIN STAFF WRITER Staff writer Carter Strickland contributed to this report.
Police want a felony charge filed against a former Washington State University basketball player suspected of sending a threatening e-mail to a couple seeking an abortion. The e-mail was sent June 28 from the alumni office in the WSU French Administration Building, one day before the woman was scheduled to get an abortion in Spokane.
Pullman police served two search warrants, including one on Microsoft Inc., to track down varsity forward Stephen John Slotemaker, authorities said Tuesday. The e-mail threat said, in part: “In the Bible, it says, `eye for an eye,’ and that is my intention. I know where you live. I know where you work.”
The note was signed: “Jimmy Crackhorn (cause I don’t care) USVI.”
Whitman County Deputy Prosecutor Monty Cobb said he believes the note “could be perceived” as a death threat, and is felony harassment under state law. Slotemaker, 23, has not been charged but is identified as the only suspect in police reports forwarded to the prosecutor’s office, Cobb said.
The e-mail was sent to the boyfriend of a young woman as the pair contemplated an abortion. Investigators said the man’s girlfriend was not named in the e-mail.
Slotemaker acknowledged, in an interview Tuesday with The Spokesman-Review, that he sent the e-mail to the man because the man was having simultaneous relationships with two women.
Slotemaker said he wanted to expose the man’s secret to protect his two female friends. “I felt I had to protect them in a sense,” Slotemaker said. “Not in the sense of eradicating this guy. That was never my intention. My intention was to get his secret – that he was dating two girls – out in the open.”
The prosecutor said the man and his girlfriend, both 21-year-old WSU students, are now reluctant to press charges. “They are feeling a lot of embarrassment and stress at this point,” Cobb said.
The prosecutor said he is waiting for a letter from the victims before deciding what to do. “The law allows for discretion on my part to comply with the victims’ request,” he said.
The 6-foot-9 Slotemaker, who completed his college basketball eligibility last season, is a graduate student at WSU.
His coach, Kevin Eastman, resigned and left Pullman after the last season. WSU Athletic Director Rick Dickson was on vacation and unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Slotemaker works for the university. His parents live near Portland.
“I’ve never physically hurt anyone in my life, and I never would,” Slotemaker said. “I wasn’t thinking. It was wrong. I knew then it was wrong. It was a stupid mistake.
“I was raised in a Christian household and believe in the fundamentals of Christianity, but I’m not in any way a zealot. I’m not connected to any right-wing anti-abortion factions.” The contents of the threat are contained in a newsletter mailed to supporters and donors of Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest.
John Nugent, president of Planned Parenthood, said the threat was publicly disseminated to show “that the militant anti-choice faction is growing in strength in the Inland Northwest.”
Nugent expressed surprise Tuesday that a suspect has been identified and that the victims are now apparently reluctant to press charges. “We certainly want to respect their wishes and their privacy,” Nugent said. “However, for the greater good of society, I would hope they would consider pressing criminal charges.”
The threat was turned over to Pullman police the day after it was received. Police Sgt. Sam Sorem immediately obtained a search warrant to identify the “Internet protocol address” of the Microsoft Hotmail account.
With that information, the investigator got a second search warrant to examine the hard drive of a computer in Room 328, the alumni office in French Administration Building.
Cobb said investigators did not seize the computer, but used a video camera to copy contents of its hard drive on June 29. Slotemaker was questioned and “made admissions of a sort,” the prosecutor said, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
Slotemaker was Oregon’s basketball player of the year before enrolling at WSU in 1994. His college basketball career was dampened as he fought depression and began to take Prozac in his sophomore year, Slotemaker said in an interview earlier this year.