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tv   Nightline  ABC  March 9, 2018 12:37am-1:07am PST

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♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight. >> i'm going to make this as painful and expensive as possible. >> nowhere to hide. a cyber flirtation with a stranger turns into a relentless real-life invasion. >> i want you to look into my face when i was talking to you. >> stalking her husband at work. recording the family for crimes they didn't commit. >> the detective said i'm here for welfare check your son if can and child abuse. >> pushing a woman to the brink. >> maybe if i die, kill myself, maybe he will stop. >> now "nightline" facing the alleged harasser and his wife. >> this is you saying this. this is your voice. >> but -- >> this special edition of
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"nightline" nowhere to hide, will be right back. at ikea, we believe that everything you need should be within reach. that anything that matches your taste can match your budget. that green living doesn't have to cost much green. we believe that you should always have room for the little things. and that your dream kitchen should work as hard as you do. ikea family members get 15% back when you spend $2000 or more at the ikea kitchen event. and financing is now available with the ikea projekt credit card.
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this is a special edition of "nightline." nowhere to hide. >> good evening and we're dedicating our show tonight to a story of cyber harassment so extreme that the woman said it nearly led her to suicide. it started as an online
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flirtation and grew to threats and public humiliatation. tonight you will hear from both the victim and the man she accuses of trying to ruin her life. s. >> saturday 4:05 a.m. >> 1:02 a.m. >> i will get you no matter what i do. >> in our connected era, courtney allen provides a brutal cautionary tale. >> he targeted our home. he targeted our neighbors. he tried to get us fired. >> this wife and mother from suburban seattle says what started as an online flirtation led to a dogged die a bolical campaign of cyber stalking. >> i was having nightmares my husband was dead and my son taken from me.
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>> she said online chat room hurdled videos sent to her colleagues and police sent to her home to investigate child abuse and voice mails and e-mails and text. >> you don't can think you can run from this [ bleep ] you created. >> this is the man courtney and her husband blame. todd zonis a 45-year-old from arizona. >> i don't know why you hate me so much. >> i'm afraid of what he will do. if i kill myself maybe that will be the end. >> this is a story of public humiliatation and private torment. >> i introduce this maniac into the lives of my family and it's all my fault. all of it is my fault. >> the story begins in suburban seattle. courtney allen was a married stay-at-home mother. that's when her marriage began to change. >> steve wasn't home a lot. i felt abandoned. and having no time to talk to friends i felt very sec ludsed.
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>> start to play a online game before players use the power of the gods to protect themselves and fourth alliances with other virtual players. while playing the game med todd zoneis. >> at first what was it like. >> he was rude and crude but i thought it was funny. >> then they began emayling. >> did the relationship get close. >> yes we started flirting and turned to texting, sexting and that's mainly how the relationship started to evolve. >> courtney was living a double life. a married woman with a child having what she calls a secret online affair. >> even though you never head him face to face, you felt like you knew him? >> yes i felt he was my best friend. told him very private things about myself. things i really didn't tell other people.
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he replaced my husband. >> then she says things turned sexual. >> he had an idea we should exchange elicit videos and he sent me several and asked for one in return and i obliged. >> so you must have trusted him. >> i did impolicedly. >> it's a big risk i can see you wish you hadn't taken. >> yes. >> in september 2013 her husband steven discovered the relationship. >> it was devastated. wouldn't think your spouse would do that. >> she agreed to end the affair. >> but instead she hid her relationship in a password-protected tablet. >> did you feel guilty? >> yes. >> months later he caught her again. disappointed and decided to do something drastic. >> i found a website marriage
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builder. >> says you must expose the affair to family, friends and especially the lover he's spouse and advantages of exposure far out weigh the disadvantages, saying this was part of the complete plan for marital reckon ill iation. >> what did you do at that point? >> i told my parents what was going on and sent individual facebook messages to our common friends. >> how did you react? >> i was not happy. i was furious. >> but steven took it even further e-mailing todd's wife and parents. he is having an internet affair with my wife involving text, e-mails and shared recorded videos of mast urbanation. >> were you at all worried about what kind of blow back you would receive. >> never imagined. >> according to the allen's they
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poked a hornets nest. todd had become furious. >> he focused on my husband. >> steve's bosses started seeing anonymous e-mails. >> saying lies about me to get me fired. >> and sent a death threat to steven's grandmother. >> he threatened to burn down the house with her in it. >> the next was an all-out attack on our family. >> where are you? are you okay? are you hoping i fade away so you can enjoy twisting the night? followed by more at 9:30. 9:42. 10:00. >> i was grasping at straws how to get rid of him to leave me alone. >> then five more e-mails -- they would continue like this, angry and abusive. i'm coming up there. i hate you and hope you get what's coming to you. >> i did nothing wrong i'm not going anywhere.
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>> then came the voice mails. >> there's no job either of you could have that i won't know about and won't be there. >> steven started getting so much harassment he had to quit his job. >> did you ever feel recesentfu that she created this problem. >> i always knew it was him. he could have chosen not to do it. >> one morning she received more than 200 text messages. >> like a switch was flipped like he had gone crazy. >> then this video. >> i don't know why you hate me so much. seriously i never been more serious about anything in my life. i mean, i just want to know how you are. what you're feeling. what you're thinking. what you are doing. i truly care. i don't know how i hurt you. i never meant to. >> but the cyber torture would get worse the video of courtney
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mast you are baiting was posted and sent to bosses and friends. according to evidence the facebook profile used to send that video was accessed from his ip draesz. address. they decided it was time to call the police. >> the police said i don't know what to do for you i never seen harassment as bad as this. >> this is what you heard from the cops, nothing they could do. >> police officer told us because he was in arizona our hands are tied. >> stalking is staulking whethe through kpulter phone or in person. certainly this offender broke many, many laws. who do we go to when you're a victim of a crime, it's the police. there should be obligation for law enforcement officers to actually enforce the laws we have. >> so the 07ballens were reliev few days later. >> detective said you have been
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reported for child abuse. i'm terrified thinking my son's going to be taken away from me. at that point i'm like we've got a stalker and i think this is his doing. he told me something was going to happen and this is it. >> the allen's finally went to the fbi. an agent took their case now the death threats were rolling in. one saying you and steven are garbage and he's going do die. >> was the fbi ever able to do anything to protect you? >> they said well be prepared to protect yourself. >> that's what they told you? >> that's what they told me. >> you had documented death threats from a traceable e-mail account right? >> they were not all traceable. >> because whoever was harassing them had been using tore, a program making identifying the sender impossible. after months of brutal harassment courtney says she was considering taking her own life.
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>> so i got an e-mail that said better for you if you just die. if you just kill yourself. and all of this guilt came crashing down. if i kill myself maybe that will be the end, maybe he'll stop. >> the allen's finally decided to take him to court but their case would be difficult one to prove. >> how do you prosecute if someone's done such a good job covering their tracks? >> in a case like this where there's just non-stop harassment. they always mess up. >> coming up next we go face to face with the man the allen's say turned their life into a living hell. >> she describes your relationship as more emotional, romantic. >> yeah. >> is that true? >> no it's not true at all. >> todd says some of the e-mails accessed from his ip address and calls to police were done by courtney anticipation husband steven pretending to be him.
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>> the voice is me but not done when they said it was. >> when we come back we'll have the rest of this surprising story. the rest of this surprising story. ing. humira has a proven track record of being prescribed for over ten years. it's the #1 prescribed biologic by dermatologists. more than 250,000 patients have chosen humira to fight their psoriasis. and they're not backing down. for most patients clearer skin is the proof. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma have happened, as have blood, liver and nervous system problems. serious allergic reactions and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection. join over 250,000 people who have chosen humira. ask your dermatologist about humira & go.
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t24. this special edition of "nightline" nowhere to hide continues. >> courtney and steven allen say they endured a year of cyber harassment. >> you don't think you can run away from this [ bleep ] you created. >> so relentless. >> he involved me. his fault not mine. anything happens it's his fault. >> led to a cover story in wired magazine. the allen's say was at the hands of this man, todd zoneis so we
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went to meet him face to face. >> we just landed in phoenix, arizona, here to have a sit down interview with todd zoneis. >> right from the jump it was tense. >> you okay? >> no. >> she's not real happy about it. >> anything i can do to help? >> say you didn't do anything. >> well we'll try to make it as brief as possible let's start at the beginning. how did you meet courtney allen? >> i played an online game for the first time in my life and she was a player as well. >> this is where the stories diverge. todd says he and his wife befriended courtney. >> you were involved in the correspondence. >> yeah she sent me gifts made me tag for things in my garden, stuff like that. >> she describes your relationship more emotional, romantic. >> not true at all. >> why do you think she's saying
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this. >> that's easy. >> yeah we turned her down. >> they allege courtney prop sigszs them for sex. >> yeah her husband he's very, you met him right, he's a very controlling abusive guy, that's how he was described to us. >> that's what she told us. >> we asked about the explicit images of courtney sent over facebook. >> the videos were sent to friends of the allens from a facebook account and cording to a legal team that facebook account was logged into from your house. so was that not you? >> no. that wasn't me. >> in june 2015 steven and courtney allen took todd zoneis to court suing him for invasion of privacy inflection of emotional distress and defamation proving he was responsible for the siberia harassment would have been nearly impossible if not for the
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handful of e-mails lynched to his e-mail are denies the e-mails. >> allen's lawyers presented e-mails from your i p address. february 20, 2015. >> we're curious is this coming strictly from the wired story? >> no these are from the data. >> okay. that was, yeah. >> we were wondering why we n have the heard anything about our claims we know about theirs. >> the reason i'm presenting the evidence they put forward because i need to give you a chance to respond to it. any claim you want to make go ahead and make it. >> they gave us a drive containing what he says was proof of his innocence which we found little wasn't already presented in court. todd repeatedly stressed he isn't even good with computers. >> literally i'm a computer moron. that's all we own. right. i'd never done any of this
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before so no i had no involvement in any of that. >> so if there's a die a bolical master mind you're saying it is not you it's steven. >> no i can't even send e-mail properly it's a joke. >> passion is passion. i did nothing wrong. >> is the voice mail you? >> yeah it's me. >> i'm not doing this again. >> this is you saying this. >> but didn't do it and i'm not going through another trial again and that's what this feels like so i'm done. >> all this could be explained if taken in context. >> if you say it is your can voice what does it matter when it came. >> well does it matter he attacked me three or four months before any of this happened. if that matters than time scheme matters. >> they say they never got a fair trial the judge wouldn't let them include testimony about losing out on their inheritance after steve allen exposed the alleged affair to todd's parent.
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>> in my case that's $2.1 million plus the home i grew up in. wwe all of that was gone. i was trying to contact them. they want nothing to do with us. there's a reason you weren't provided with any of this stuff or it's not available that's why i started my blog which we get death threats on now. >> and some are very personal. >> either way, my wife's very concerned about that. she goes to work in fear now. >> stop. >> okay, okay. anyways. >> can i get you a tissue. >> please. >> i'm sorry babe. >> did you get done. >> yeah. >> going to be all just -- >> i know. i know.
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>> the jury found zoneis responsible for intentional invasion of privacy and inflection of emotional stress and defamation of $8.9 million. >> good knowing people could look past what i had done and realize this behavior isn't okay from him. that what i did isn't cause to ruin our lives. those are his actions. i may have helped ruin our lives by providing that information but it's not my fault it's him and his actions. >> todd zoneis has already filed an appeal. >> didn't have a stalker until we had one. so yeah you may think you're fine now but something could happen and you put all that stuff on the internet. could be there for decades. >> for courtney and steven allen this ordeal feels far from over. >> do you worry though that speaking to the media could ramp things back up.
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>> it is a possibility. >> we think it's important that people understand what can happen. you don't have to be celebrity you just have to put your trust in the wrong person and that could happen. >> an we will be right back. ♪ ♪ you said you're not like me, ♪ never drop to your knees, ♪ look into the sky for a momentary high, ♪ ♪ you never even tried till it's time to say goodbye, bye ♪ ♪ everybody fights for a little bit of light, i believe. ♪ geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides. before discovering nexium 24hr to treat her frequent heartburn, lucy could only imagine enjoying a slice of pizza.
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♪ you've just watched a cyber harassment tale that evolved to
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real world you can find tips who you to keep this danger at a distance at abcnews.com. thank you for watching "nightline." we're always online 24/7 on "nightline" facebook page. thank you again for watching. good night.
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