If you flame, you might get burned. Angry about his wife's affair, Profirios Liapis sent 17 menacing e-mails to the other man, Plato Tzouzalis. Tzouzalis, a 38-year-old biochemist, says he was afraid to look at his computer screen. "I was terrorized," he says. "I would think, 'What kind of e-mail will I get today?'" An Illinois court found Liapis guilty of e-mail harassment last month, the first conviction under the state's anti-cyberstalking law. Liapis, a 42-year-old waiter, faces up to three years behind bars. He plans to appeal the verdict. Some 45 states now have laws against cyberstalking. Several forbid direct threats, but the Arizona statute requires only that a victim be "seriously alarmed" or "annoyed." Last week, in a civil action aimed at Internet messages, a Florida judge ordered Tucker Max to stop posting details of his relationship with Katy Johnson, a former Miss Vermont. Johnson had sued, claiming Max was revealing "embarrassing private facts."
There was plenty of embarrassment in the Illinois case as well. Tzouzalis says the affair happened some 14 years ago when Liapis and his wife were separated. When Liapis finally learned of it two years ago, he became angry and--in his e-mail messages--threatened to expose Tzouzalis, who had subsequently married, for having an ongoing affair. Liapis's lawyer contends his client was not threatening Tzouzalis but was simply trying to stop him from destroying another marriage. "The gist of his messages was 'Don't ruin other people's lives. I'm going to expose you'." But jurors decided that not all is fair in love and war.