Kansas court: Stalking order violated woman’s speech rights

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled that a Lawrence-area woman’s free speech rights were violated by an anti-stalking order that barred her from disparaging a neighbor.

A three-judge appeals panel overturned the woman’s conviction in Douglas County and her sentence of 12 months’ probation for violating the order.

She accused a neighbor of sexual misconduct with her child. He denied it and obtained a protection-from-stalking order in 2017.

The order barred her from disparaging the neighbor publicly. Months later, he overheard a disparaging comment she made in a conversation outside her home.

The appeals panel said her comment wasn’t a threat and neither side presented evidence during her trial about its truthfulness, so it remained protected speech.

The panel said the anti-stalking order also improperly restrained her speech beforehand.

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