FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; James Pierce,
Andrew Crawford of J. Andrew Crawford, P.A., St. Petersburg,
Evette Sermon, pro se.
Dixon appeals a fifty-year permanent injunction against
stalking Anita Sermon. Because competent, substantial
evidence does not support a finding that Dixon's conduct
was directed at Sermon, we reverse.
2016, Sermon petitioned for an injunction for protection
against stalking, alleging that Dixon had repeatedly sought
out and threatened Sermon, putting Sermon in fear for her
life. After granting a temporary injunction pursuant to
section 784.0485(5)(a), Florida Statutes (2015), the trial
court held a hearing to determine whether a permanent
injunction was warranted. At that hearing, Sermon testified
was having an affair with Sermon's husband. Sermon first
caught Dixon with Mr. Sermon in Mr. Sermon's car and
"from that point on [Dixon] would come to the
house." On those occasions, Dixon would repeatedly ring
the doorbell, pound on the door, or honk her car horn. Each
time, either Mr. Sermon would go outside to talk with Dixon
or no one would go outside to talk with her and she would
Dixon came to the house on May 28, 2016, however, Sermon came
outside, and Dixon expressed surprise to discover that Sermon
lived at the house. She told Sermon: "[Y]ou're not
supposed to be here. You live in Jacksonville." Sermon
told Dixon to leave, and Dixon left, only to return the next
morning and repeatedly ring the doorbell.
Sermon went outside to argue with Dixon while Sermon called
her sister-in-law to complain that Dixon had returned. Sermon
then went outside and demanded that Mr. Sermon stop
disrespecting her and that Dixon leave. When Dixon refused,
Sermon went back inside to call the police.
told the trial court: "[Dixon] don't know me, know
me, but she have a tendency when she upset with him or they
not together or they mad or whatever they may be going
through, I got nothing to do with that. All I want her to do
is not come to [my house]."
denied that she had repeatedly gone to Sermon's house and
testified that she had only gone there once, on May 28, 2016,
at Mr. Sermon's invitation. She also testified that Mr.
Sermon had told her that Sermon did not live at the house but
lived in Jacksonville. After hearing her testimony and
questioning Mr. Sermon, the trial court granted a fifty-year
permanent stalking injunction against Dixon.
to section 784.0485, a person may obtain an injunction for
protection against stalking. "A person who willfully,
maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks
another person commits the offense of stalking . . . ."
§ 784.048(2). Relevant to our analysis is that "
'[h]arass' means to engage in a course of conduct
directed at a specific person which causes substantial
emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate
purpose." § 784.048(1)(a).
argues that the evidence does not support the injunction
because, among other reasons, her conduct was directed not at
Sermon but at Mr. Sermon. We agree. Although ample evidence
supports a finding that Dixon, contrary to her testimony,
repeatedly came to Sermon's house, that same evidence
only supports the finding that she did so to engage Mr.
Sermon and that her interactions with Sermon were purely
incidental. The evidence indicates that, initially, Dixon
expressed surprise to learn that Sermon even lived at the
house, because she had been led to believe that Sermon lived
in Jacksonville. On the few occasions on which Dixon did
interact with Sermon, Dixon came to the house apparently to
confront Mr. Sermon, and Sermon either answered the door in
Mr. Sermon's absence or injected herself into the ongoing
argument between Dixon and Mr. Sermon. Indeed, Sermon herself
acknowledged at the hearing, "[Dixon] don't know me,