Computer Use

Joseph E. Pegan, 33, and his ex- girlfriend had reportedly broken up last fall. In March, she was accessing her computer email program and noticed that a male friend’s email address was different- it had changed by one letter.

The ex-girlfriend may have had reason to be alert for this. She alleges she had had a conversation with Pegan in which he admitted to using computer software to track some ex-girlfriend’s. She went to police.

Police say they traced the email addresses. The original email address for the male friend traced overseas where he was serving in the military. But they say the altered email address traced back to a police station- where Pegan was on duty when the account was created and several times when the account was accessed. Police say he also accessed the email from his home.

Allegedly Pegan admitted to police

accessing his ex-girlfriend’s e-mail account and even deleting or blocking some addresses, the affidavit said. He added other addresses, like the altered one, and continued corresponding with her under this assumed identity. He got the woman to install the monitoring software on her computer by sending it from the e-mail address similar to her friend’s as an attachment labeled “for our soldiers.exe,”

One of the things that Pegan was able to do was to record the ex-girlfriend’s keystrokes, allowing him to monitor her online chats as well as her email.  Allegedly Pegan used the computer software on the girlfriend’s computer from Nov. 15 to April 15.

Pegan has been charged with 2 felony counts of computer tampering and 2 misdemeanor counts of computer trespass. He has been suspended with pay since May 14.                     

Yes, tracking your computer usage can be done, even if the ex doesn’t live in your home. There is something called  key logger software that was designed for use in office settings and has been adapted for home use, often used to monitor children online. While it is great for monitoring teens, it is an invasion of privacy to use it to monitor someone else’s computer without their knowledge.  If you are having a problem with an ex, it is a good idea to check you computer over or have a technician check it out if the ex is even semi-literate in computers. Using a good anti-virus and antispyware program may also help.  And remember the computer rule- don’t click on an attachment unless you know what it is and who it is from.

Your online email accounts can also be hacked. Most people use something simple and easy to remember for passwords. If you allow it to be kept on the ‘cookies’ anyone in the household can access your email (anyone who uses your computer can at least figure out the number of characters in your password.) If your passwords are too simple, or are known by others they can access your accounts by knowing your email name and guessing until they find your password. You may want to change and strengthen your computer passwords. You can find info online about how to make a stronger, safer password. Change your passwords often.

Persons in your household with access to your computer can also use the ‘history’ function to see what websites you have been accessing. The Wings Program gives suggestions for how to clear your website history from your computer.

If you need to use your computer for something important that you do not want known at home (like accessing a DV site) it is recommended that you use a friend’s computer or a public computer that can be found at cafe’s or public libraries.

I don’t pretend to know what all can be determined by someone who accesses a computer. But I do know that clearing everything you do on the computer is almost impossible. The safest way is if you don’t want it seen, don’t put it on a computer that you think may be monitored. If you suspect that someone has accessed your computer without authorization, contact a technician to have it checked and contact police if it has been tampered with. It is illegal and in some cases is related to stalking (in my opinion it is stalking, but I’m not sure how the legal community defines it.)

For more information about computer usage and DV the has some tips on computer usage as well as other forms of communication (cell phones, home phones, etc. Did you know that a police scanner can be used to monitor some cell phones?)



  1. anothervictim said,

    June 10, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Another word of advise, it has been noted on several occasions that the website “limewire” will attach files to your computer that you’re not aware of when downloading music from there site, the “secret files” contain pornography of all sorts including children. So be aware that law enforcement officials are monitoring computer use and if there experts find that you have “files” on your computer that have child pornography involved you will be getting a very unpleasant visit.

  2. Christie said,

    March 3, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I am the girlfriend mentioned in this story. Since that time, I have been very mindful of what I download, and what sites i visit. Additionally, I do not allow anyone on my computer……

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