A British "prisoner of love" who followed his romantic urges across the Atlantic Ocean three times apparently will remain locked behind steel bars.
Liverpool native Harvey Michael Scott, 40, was guilty of violating federal immigration laws when he walked across the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls in August, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara said in his decision Wednesday.
The judge said he couldn't accept Scott's explanation that he legally is insane and suffers from "erotomania." During a trial held last month, Scott claimed that his uncontrollable, unrequited love for a woman in Seattle drove him to return to the United States three times after he had been deported to England.
Seattle police said the woman, Betsy Toombs, has no romantic interest in Scott and is terrified of him.
"The court finds the defendant guilty as charged," Arcara said. "The defendant has failed to meet his burden by proving by clear and convincing evidence that he was legally insane."
The pale, red-haired Scott showed no reaction at the verdict. His court-appointed attorney, Michael P. McKeating, said he was disappointed but not surprised.
"Both psychiatrists who testified in the trial agreed that he is mentally ill and needs help," McKeating said. "I just hope he gets that help in prison."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana said Arcara's decision is fair.
"We don't deny Mr. Scott suffers from a delusional disorder, but our contention is that the disorder would not prevent him from knowing right from wrong, or knowing when he was breaking the law," Campana said.
Scott had a brief romance with Ms. Toombs when both were college students in Oregon more than 15 years ago.
According to Seattle police, Ms. Toombs has had no interest in Scott since that time. But in recent years, Scott has persisted in efforts to woo her. She had him arrested for harassment in 1986, obtained an order of protection against him, and then had him arrested again for breaking into her apartment in February 1989, for which he served 17 months in a Seattle-area prison.
Since 1986, Scott has been deported to Great Britain three times because of his harassment of Ms. Toombs. Each time, Scott made his way back to the United States to try to see her, Campana said.
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents arrested Scott again Aug. 5 in Niagara Falls after he failed to provide the proper documents for crossing the border. He has been in the Erie County Holding Center ever since, unable to put up $5,000 bail.
Scott told Arcara during his non-jury trial that he still believes he could win Ms. Toombs' heart if he had one more chance to talk to her.
Arcara could sentence Scott to prison for five years, but federal sentencing guidelines recommend a term of 12 to 18 months. The judge noted that McKeating had the burden of proving Scott was insane and could not be held legally responsible for his actions.
McKeating likened Scott's case to that of John Hinckley, the man who shot former President Ronald Reagan in 1981 as part of a bizarre effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley had an obsession about Ms. Foster. Both Hinckley and Scott suffered from a delusion called "erotomania," McKeating said.
But after the Hinckley incident, the federal courts shifted the burden of proving insanity to the defense. Before then, prosecutors had the burden of proving a defendant was not insane.
While calling Scott's condition "unfortunate," Campana said considerations for Ms. Toombs' safety also are important.
Diane Priest, a Seattle police crime victims advocate, said in a telephone interview that she was pleased with the decision. Before Arcara sentences Scott in February, she said, Ms. Toombs plans to write him a letter describing her ordeal.