Sturtevant Village President pleads not guilty to stalking charge
STURTEVANT — Sturtevant Village President Steve Jansen pleaded not guilty to stalking charges Wednesday, after he was arrested for allegedly stalking an ex-girlfriend for over a year, and charged with one felony count of criminal stalking. Jansen also waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday, and will head to trial.
Jansen is accused of sending emails, text messages, threatening suicide and following his ex-girlfriend for over a year – and the criminal complaint in the case says Jansen repeatedly ignored the woman’s and police chief’s requests to leave her alone.
Jansen remains Sturtevant’s village president, and says he has no plans to step down.
The criminal complaint in the case says the victim had a relationship with 52-year-old Jansen until January of 2011. The victim said when she had previously tried to break up with Jansen, he would act as if he was thinking about suicide and ending his life, according to the complaint. The victim told Jansen she would no longer respond to his suicide threats and broke up with him, after which she began to receive text messages and emails several times a day and voicemails on her phone.
The complaint says in January of 2011 the victim agreed to meet with Jansen one last time, and said she told Jansen she did not want a relationship with him and there was no future for them. The complaint says the victim told Jansen “I am done – you need to move on.”
The complaint says after this meeting, the victim continued to receive text messages and letters from Jansen, and says the messages were rambling and contained links to YouTube music videos. The victim said some of the lyrics referenced death or suicide, and were upsetting to her. The victim said some of the messages showed Jansen had faith in God and was doing better, where others were depressed or even angry rants, where Jansen said he was worthless, and accused the victim of having too high standards.
The complaint says from January 2011 to mid-February 2011 there were 10 or more messages sent by Jansen to the victim per day, and the victim cut off contact with Jansen and began deleting the messages. The victim said her sister contacted Jansen by email and in person and asked him to leave the victim alone. Jansen apparently stopped contacting the victim at that time, until February 2011 when the victim received an angry message from Jansen indicating he had been fired from his job.
The complaint says in March of 2011, Jansen began writing long emails to the victim, and the victim went to police. Police Chief Sean Marschke knew Jansen, and told the victim if the contact continued, to get in touch with him, and they would file a complaint – but the victim stated she didn’t want to cause any more trouble for Jansen, and didn’t want to file a complaint at that time. The victim says the contact stopped at this time, but started up again in May of 2011.
In May of 2011, the victim received a message from Jensen asking her to go to her son’s grave, which she did. While there, she says she saw a car drive by, and saw Jensen roll down the window and blow her a kiss and wave. After this incident, the victim says she contacted police, and police again encouraged her to file a complaint, but she said she just wanted police to talk with Jansen again – and contact stopped for approximately two months.
The complaint states that Jansen began to contact the victim again in September and October – around the anniversary of her son’s death. Jansen apparently sent poems, music and YouTube videos to the victim, and the victim says she found a package on her porch containing a meditation CD and candles. The victim contacted police for a third time after this incident.
In December of 2011, Jansen again contacted the victim and wrote “on the risk of going to jail because I’m contacting you, well so be it,” according to the complaint. An email from January of 2012 stated: “I’ll be contrite with any further contact. Besides, I don’t look good in orange with numbers on the back.” The victim says she didn’t respond tot he emails. In late January, the victim reported receiving a handwritten letter from Jansen, a CD of religious music, a business card holder, a milk bone for her dog and a couple pieces of candy.
In February of 2012, Jansen sent an email to the victim, saying “Am I insane? Yeah maybe! It’s okay though. You define insanity as doing the same thing over and over and over again in hopes of a different result! With that, I know I’m dully qualified! I feel special,” according to the complaint.
The victim says she fears for her life, and feels Jansen is obsessed with her. She says she’s worried Jansen’s behavior is getting bolder and he has no regard for the warnings police have given him.
The complaint says the victim is afraid to walk her dog, work in her yard, leave her windows or doors open in the spring, and feels her house needs to be locked. She says she’s afraid to leave her house.
The complaint says when interviewed by police, Jansen admitted he has been sending emails, music, letters and rambling thoughts to the victim, and admitted she never responded. Jansen apparently told officers: “Do I look at it as being wrong? No. It’s love. It’s just good.” Jansen told police he could not stop contacting the victim, because that would be considered giving up.
Jansen has been the President of Sturtevant since 2003 after serving three terms on the Village Board as a trustee.
Barry Johnson ran against Jansen in Sturtevant’s last race for village president. Johnson came to Tuesday night’s meeting with questions about Jansen’s future. “Is the village going to pay for a lawyer to defend him for what he’s done, or is this a personal matter? I wanted to hear what’s going to happen in the weeks to come. That’s a pretty serious charge that he’s carrying with him,” Johnson said.
Allen Acker is Sturtevant’s former village president. He says Jansen’s future is up to the courts, but the attention his arrest is bringing is harmful to the village. “I think he lost the confidence of the citizens in the village. The community is going to suffer from even just this publicity,” Acker said.
Sturtevant’s police chief was also at Tuesday night’s meeting, but said he could not comment because he may be asked to testify in this case. One village trustee made a few comments, saying the Village Board doesn’t know whether Jansen will remain village president, but they are assuming his innocence until he’s proven guilty.
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