A judge granted Sarah Palin and her friend Kristan Cole temporary restraining orders against 18-year-old Shawn R. Christy of McAdoo, PA, who Palin says has been stalking her since summer 2009. "Bottom line is, he is crazy and could kill me," Palin said, according to the court transcript. "He wants me dead." But does he really? Here's a look at Palin's teenage stalker and how much of a threat he posed:
Who is Shawn Christy?
Christy, who lives with his parents in McAdoo, was apparently an early supporter of Palin. "He was a definite fan,” says his dad Craig Christy. "He called [Governor Palin's] office asking for election information and how he could help out in October 2008," when he was 16. This August, the teenager, a member of Palin's SarahPAC political outfit, spent $200 to see Palin at a Pennsylvania fundraiser.
Why does Palin think he's stalking her?
Palin says Christy has been implicitly threatening her for months, suggesting (via phone calls and letters, including one signed "your magic enemy") that she "watch her back" and sending her a receipt for a gun. Palin's friend Cole says that Christy believes he had a "sexual relationship" with Palin and that he warned Cole she would be "punished" if she didn't corroborate this relationship to the FBI. Christy allegedly informed Cole that "he tried to follow the Bible but had evil and wickedness in him."
Why seek a restraining order now?
The final straw, Cole and Palin say, was when Christy announced he'd arrived in Alaska. "When someone sends you proof that they’ve purchased weapons, proof that they know where you live... and then calls from a cell phone with a [local Alaska] 907 number, it's over the line," Cole says. Dozens of people have threatened Palin since 2008, says her lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, but Christy "stands out as the most persistent."
What does Christy say?
He largely admits to the threatening calls and emails, but says he never meant any harm or actually went to Alaska. Christy's father says it all started after his son had a 2008 run-in with the Secret Service in Washington, D.C.: Shawn noticed his cellphone and computer behaving oddly, and tried to contact the Secret Service to see if they were bugging his phone. When ignored, he decided to write threatening notes to Palin, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and President Obama. "It wasn't the brightest idea," Christy says now.
What happens next?
The Alaska courts are going to hear Palin and Cole's petition for a permanent restraining order on Oct. 13, and Christy's family will testify over the telephone to try to prevent the order. In the meantime, after news of the restraining order broke, it's now the Christy family that is under police protection. "They're bringing in officers from other cities, Craig Christy says. Shawn Christy concludes, "I wish honestly, I could go back and it didn't happen.""
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Adrian Peterson and our misguided debate about spanking
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The American middle class is no longer safe from poverty — and that might be a good thing
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- The Tea Party has its own immigration problem: Cuba
Subscribe to the Week