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PA: Constitutional right or crime? Case of alleged harassment of sex offender’s family heads to court

[ – 4/9/19]

A father and son from Freemansburg accused of harassing the family of a sex offender are headed to Northampton County Court on their respective criminal charges.

James Forte Sr. and James Forte Jr., who both live in 200 block of Juniata Street in the borough, had their preliminary hearings Tuesday in front of District Judge Nicholas Englesson.

Following testimony from the victim and a borough police officer, Englesson sent all the charges to county court, where the pair now face possible trial.

Father and son accused of harassing family of sex offender

The father allegedly printed out copies of a news article about the man, and then placed them on vehicles in the neighborhood, police said.

Defense attorney Anthony Rybak, who represented Forte Sr., said his client had been willing to plead guilty to a summary count of harassment, in exchange for the stalking charge to be dropped. After the hearing, Rybak said the father’s case will be going to trial.

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Father and son accused of harassing family of sex offender


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This could be a tough case for the State to win. It all depends on the extent of the men’s activities–though papa can be nailed for putting stuff in mailboxes, which is against Federal law. IMO, if a church expressing all sorts of anti-homosexual thoughts and words at veterans’ funerals and if burning a cross in an African-American’s yard are protected speech, how can yelling something at someone not be? In fact, if it’s not I suspect we’re all in trouble with the law for yelling at someone in traffic, at a sporting event, etc.
To me, it will depend on the duration and intent. Once sonny-boy made direct threats of harm, he certainly crossed the line into (using SCOTUS parlance) “fighting words.” But before? Based on the article, I’m not so sure.

But why bother with all this anyway? It’s all just collateral consequences, right?


After reading the article, there is more to this to the story with some history between the two it’d appear, but is not noted. I guess people will find out in the courtroom.

I had to research (better than a legislative researcher) “transitory anger” based upon “Eyer argued the statements were made in “transient anger” after the arrest of Forte Jr.’s father, but did not rise to a terroristic threat.” Really? Well, we all will learn something new here that those impacted by the registry need to be on the watch for.

Reading this “Terroristic Threats” (, one will learn it could be ok for this type of verbal display to happen against those who are impacted by the registry. While I’m not a medical professional, nor to do I play one on TV or stay at a HI Express last night, I’d bet a doughnut there is mentally medically more to Jr’s case than has been said (there is mental medical info related to “transient anger” when you search on that phrase as well as an atty in MN who writes on this defense in greater detail than the Penn atty). It is more than just a first amendment issues, though it is fighting words as I read them, will they medically look at this given the data?

I agree this will be a hard case for the State of Penn to prove on Jr’s part, but Sr should be on Fed charges of using a mailbox illegally (where is the USPS Postal Inspector when you want one?).

I think Jr. went well over transient anger by his actions and words. He didn’t just display a “hothead moment” or a “heat of the moment” statement. No, he went to their house and yelled words that the reasonable person would probably deem a “clear and present danger” to them. This premeditation, IMO, eviscerates any transient-anger claim. Some helpful case law on “fighting words” can be found at

Jr.’s lawyer’s words don’t jive with what the neighbors say. From the article:
Police said the day Forte Sr. was arrested, officers were called to the neighborhood for Forte Jr. yelling obscenities and harassing the woman and her family.
A neighbor also provided police with a written statement that the incidents with Forte Jr. had occurred for the previous 10 days.

Eyer argued the statements were made in “transient anger” after the arrest of Forte Jr.’s father, but did not rise to a terroristic threat.

There was also no evidence that Forte Jr. knew Klein was in her house at the time, Eyer said.
So I guess Jr. had transient anger for over a week before Daddy-o was arrested? That takes some skill to be angry about an event before you even know it will occur. I also wonder if or how much it matters if he knew anyone was home. Is the threat any less threatening if witnessed by a third party and related to the target? After all, if a (Chicago) Bear sh!ts in the woods and nobody’s around, it’s still public indecency. 😉

My armchair quarterbacking says Sr. gets acquitted and Jr. gets convicted of something.


I see what you’re saying here. It’ll be an interesting case.

What if the threats are caught on Ring or other surveillance system while no one’s home or by a neighbor recording it? Doesn’t a person have to be present for a vocal threat to be received at home?

I wonder if Jr’s bandage in the photo was from a less than easy arrest?

Probation likely, for both but I believe civil suit will result.

Whatever the law states, we all inherently know that this is harassment and very wrong. Also, if I’m reading it correctly the harasser has had other run-ins with the law so he has some serious anger issues and should be instructed to cease as his anger is a recurring problem. Again, if a person serves their time and meets all requirements levied on them then they are supposedly able to put their past behind them. As the last two presidents have stated, “America is a land of second chances”–isn’t it?

Pa megans law website states you can not use megans law to harrass so’s. Love to see them nailed on that.

@RSO Wife

It was public info already via the media. “The father allegedly printed out copies of a news article about the man, and then placed them on vehicles in the neighborhood, police said.”

@ TS:

In which case I’d like to see the affected family sue the specific media outlet that the Fortes copied.


Ok, I will bite. Why?

In 1999, he had an indecent assault charge he was convicted of which is public information: EX-FIRE CHIEF SENTENCED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT * GEORGE HESS, WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO FONDLING GIRL, 10, TO SPEND 1 TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON ( This is not registry info, but media info from 19 years ago in the courtroom. That does not mean his info from the registry was not referred to get to this past info. However, if they are using publicly available media info, they are merely sharing this info in a way others do with flyers on windshields. I am not saying it is right or should be done since he has been a good citizen it appears for the last 19 years and deserves the chance to move on.

Here is the Feb 26, 2019 article which details how this got started between the two families:

It appears the family was targeted for intimidation without a doubt, which is the crux of the harassment, stalking, and threats here as I see it. However, the manner in which the threats were made is going to be hard to prove, not impossible if creative, but will take 1st Amend, fighting words, and transient anger understanding, and possible medical knowledge of the son IMO, to get a full understanding. I can say the offspring apple did not fall from this paternal tree with their collective behaviors.

I don’t think that the guy (Hess) is even on a registry.
If not, he doesn’t get all the protections which the registry grants us.
{snarky comment}

RSO Wife – and it’s proof that the lawmakers are well aware that the law incites violence… otherwise why include that in the law?

Hmmm…. so if, after hearing the threats directed at her and her family, Mrs. Hess steps out the front door and shoots Junior dead, can she use “transient anger” as her defense??
Or would that be the more specific subcategory: “transient anger with resulting permanent effect” ?? 😆😆😆

Well after reading these notes I sure think that RSOs need to start suing for harrassment, and civil penalties, and putting RSO in danger of others. To me I look at Registry as a HATE CRIME against RSO because they are the only people that are put on registry and to be followed with a eye of others.


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