CLEARWATER (FOX13) - UPDATE:
In March of 2021, an attorney representing Bruce Joseph told FOX 13 the charges were dropped, and FOX 13 could no longer find the case in court records. A separate civil lawsuit was filed by the alleged victim seeking damages from Joseph for pain and suffering, loss of income, and health care expenses. Records indicate the parties reached a settlement, the terms of which are sealed. A "lack of prosecution notice" was sent to all parties on February 24, 2021, and the docket indicates the civil case is due to be dismissed on April 27. A previous version of this story reported that Joseph was charged with a felony. While police arrested him for a felony, he was actually charged with a misdemeanor.
The mother of a cyber-stalking victim is speaking out after felony charges in the case were reduced to misdemeanors without her knowledge.
For the victim's mother, Crystal, the last few months have been a nightmare. She is now fearful knowing her daughter's alleged stalker may never serve any jail time.
"My heart breaks for my daughter," Crystal said, "and not just her, but for all of my children, because he harassed all of us."
She's talking about 58-year-old Bruce Joseph, who is accused of posing as Crystal's daughter online and creating fake social media profiles in her name.
According to Largo police, on multiple occasions, he sent nude photos of the victim to men online posing as her, inviting them her dorm room and giving them turn-by-turn directions with the promise of sex when they arrived.
"First of all, he's a sicko," private investigator John Hubbard said. "Secondly, he' a narcissist. This is a guy who even told her in the exchange of messages, he uses numbers that typically can't be identified and traced to him."
Detectives said Joseph and the victim first met in 2015 while she was a student at Calvary Christian High School, where Joseph's wife is an administrator. Joseph served as chaperone at the homecoming dance, but nothing inappropriate happened.
According to police, it wasn't until the victim turned 18 that the two began a consensual sexual relationship. Crystal said her daughter ended the affair in January, sparking non-stop harassment. Joseph is also accused of sending nude photos of the victim to her family members, friends and college teammates.
In March, he was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking, sexual cyber-harassment and criminal use of personal identification. This month, those charges were reduced to misdemeanors.
"I think he thinks he can get away with it," Crystal said. "I think somebody needs to prove to him and other people that do this, you can't get away with this. It's against the law. You can ruin people's lives."
"This defendant and defendants that do this it's all about control," attorney Joshua Drechsel said. "It takes a strong person to finally say, 'Alright, I'm going to take control back and I'm going to get involved and stop this.'"
FOX 13 has reached out to the State Attorney's Office for an explanation on the lessened charges, as well as, Joseph's attorney, Todd Foster, but he had no comment as of Thursday evening.