The University of Southern Mississippi Police Department arrested two men this week for alleged electronic invasion of privacy at the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.
The first case detailed the arrest of Quandom Benn, a former iTech employee on the Hattiesburg campus. He is currently being charged with seven counts of disturbing the peace and seven counts of stalking.
According to a statement from Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett in June of this year, Benn “violated the trust The University of Southern Mississippi places in its employees (by) accessing the personal information of certain members of the USM community on the Hattiesburg campus.”
UPD Detective Rusty Keyes said the investigation took over five months to complete due to investigation of forensic evidence.
“We submitted some computer equipment and phone equipment we had seized from Benn during the investigation for forensic analysis,” Keyes said. “It just takes a while to get those results back.”
Benn had no previous criminal record before these allegations. He turned himself in to UPD Tuesday, coming into the station alongside his lawyer, and his case has been handed over to the Forrest County Justice Court for trial.
During the same day, an arrest was made known on the Gulf Park campus dealing with yet another cyberstalking case. Former USM Gulf Park student Joshua Scarabin allegedly stalked two former professors and made threats against the University via email.
According to the news release issued, Scarabin was arrested Saturday after warrants were issued by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office. He has been charged with two counts of cyberstalking and one count of posting a threat to cause injury. Bond was set in Forrest County Justice Court at $75,000.
Keyes said students and faculty should be leery of information shared on the Internet.
“You need to be careful about social media, about who you accept emails from and things of that nature,” Keyes said. “Be aware of who you’re communicating with, and who you’re talking to, how much personal information you’re letting them have.”
Keyes said every person should do his or her best to prevent cyberstalking. “It’s decisions the individual has to make to prevent (themselves) from becoming a victim,” he said.
Anna Hotard, Residence Life staff member and senior English major, agreed with Keyes and stressed the importance of reporting suspicious behavior or harassment. “Be careful with what you post,” she said. “Report if anyone starts threatening or harassing you. Don’t just blow it off because it could turn serious.”