Ex-Girlfriend Sentenced to 11 Years in Tulsa Stalking Case

After violating probation, violating protective orders, ignoring a GPS ankle monitor, and failing to participate in a recovery program, a Tulsa woman accused of stalking her ex-boyfriend and his current girlfriend was sentenced to more than a decade in prison. Lauren Baker, 31, was found guilty of stalking in late September 2013 and given probation. However, just eight days later, she renewed the harassment of Steven Province and Ashley Tickel.  By contacting the couple by following them and sending threatening and harassing text messages, she violated the Victim's Protective Orders each had taken out against her. After their breakup, Baker left Province a voicemail saying that she was "going to make [Tickel's] life a living [expletive] hell." Province and Tickel said she made good on the threat through vandalism of Province's vehicle and continued threats, harassment, and intimidation. Among the threatening messages she sent were indications that the brake lines had been cut, threats that their apartment would be set on fire, and statements that Province would be better off if his new girlfriend drowned. Although Baker's attorney says that the couple was not really in fear for their lives, but rather feeling harassed and annoyed at worst, Province and Tickel say that Baker made good on their threat to make their lives a "living hell," giving them reason to believe she might also make good on her more sinister threats. Baker's lawyer and family say that she is  not a threat and not a criminal. They pointed out that she had no prior arrests until the harassment started when she was 30 years old. The defense argued that prison is an unsuitable solution for Baker, saying that her mental health issues were triggered by the breakup and the loss of a valuable career. Treatment, they argued, is a much better alternative to prison. Judge Glassco agreed that Baker needed mental health treatment, but also indicated that she needed to be locked up, since a prior felony charge and protective orders were not enough to end her stalking behaviors. He bemoaned the fact that Oklahoma offers no locked mental health facilities to keep her away from her victims while providing her with tools for recovery. Initially, he gave Baker the opportunity to apply for the state's Women in Recovery program, a group home treatment program typically used for women with substance abuse issues. Judge Glassco indicated that he was uncertain if Baker would qualify for the program, but she was accepted. Unfortunately, despite acceptance into the Women in Recovery program, Baker refused to participate. Because of her failure to comply, the judge was left with no option but to sentence her to prison. In general, stalking is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail. However, repeat offenses and stalking in violation of a VPO are felony crimes resulting in much longer sentences. Learn more about Oklahoma stalking laws. Baker's story seems to be a sad one. A bright young woman discovers that her boyfriend is seeing another woman, and the disappointment and distraction over the collapsed relationship causes her to lose her job. The dual disappointment triggers the onset of mental health issues which, without proper treatment, lead to her felony conviction and a prison sentence of more than a decade. It is unfortunate that Oklahoma has no appropriate safety net to catch Baker in her fall and to protect her victims from ongoing harassment.  

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