Cyber stalking bill inspired by Bucks County case

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Watch the report from Chad Pradelli on Action News at 4:30 p.m. on April 11, 2018. (WPVI)

It's called the Combat Online Predator Act, and it passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday and now goes to the Senate.

It's a proposed law spurred by the frightening ordeal of one Bucks County family and an Action News Investigation last year.

"What this is going to do is really raise awareness both federally and at the state level," said Erin Zezzo.

The stalking began for Zezzo's daughter, Madison, in 2013.

RELATED: High school senior cyberstalked by friend's dad
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High school senior cyberstalked by friend's dad. Chad Pradelli reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on May 8, 2017.



55-year-old Shane Holderer, the father of Madison's best friend, began reaching out to the then middle schooler via social media.

"It changed everything for the rest of my life," Madison said.

Soon the messages turned sexual in nature. Police were called, Holderer was charged with stalking, and in the end the judge handed down a sentence of probation and counseling.

The Zezzos were devastated, and Holderer continued to cyberstalk Madison.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick of the 8th District saw that something needed to be done, so he introduced the new bill.

The bill will allow for judges to increase maximum prison sentences by five years if the cyberstalking victim is a minor like Madison was at the time.

The Zezzos were there as the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill on Tuesday.

Erin says Madison turned to her at one point and said she was, "extremely happy we were able to take a crisis in our family and turn it into something positive."

Holderer was eventually caught in a sting operation trying to meet Madison and charged for a second time. Last year he was sentenced to 18 months to 7 years behind bars. He's eligible for parole next year.

The Zezzos say his release is a haunting thought.

"You also have the thought: 'When this individual gets out of jail will he come after her?' That'll never go away," Erin said.

Madison is now a freshman at the University of North Carolina, and is said to be doing very well.

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