This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Daniel A. Sarasti,
Filed June 26, 2001
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C2-00-100648
Lee A. Miller, Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala, P.A., 500 Young Quinlan Building, 81 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Daniel Sarasti, 342 Fuller Avenue, #4, St. Paul, MN 55103 (appellant pro se)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from a harassment restraining order, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to show that he had committed acts of harassment against respondent. We affirm.
Appellant Daniel Sarasti and respondent Angela Grams lived in separate buildings in the same apartment complex. Grams rebuffed multiple attempts by Sarasti to initiate a romantic relationship, telling him that she did not want him to contact her in any way. Grams eventually sought a harassment restraining order in the Ramsey County District Court.
At the hearing, Grams testified that Sarasti had left letters under her door, left a card on the windshield of her car, made numerous phone calls to her residence, pounded on her door and demanded that she speak with him, took pictures of her while she was sunbathing and accosted her in the courthouse following a temporary restraining order hearing. Grams also testified that Sarasti’s actions caused her fear, inspired her to complain to the apartment-complex management and eventually motivated her to break her lease and change her residence. A friend of Grams corroborated the encounter following the temporary restraining order hearing and described how Grams had been distraught as a result of Sarasti’s actions.
Sarasti also testified at the hearing. He stated that “[i]t was clear that [Grams] did not want to talk to me.” He characterized the contents of Grams’ petition as “exaggerated” but he admitted to most of the events related by Grams. He voluntarily spoke about his depression and anxiety, and stated that he did not always take his medication.
The district court found that Grams sustained her burden “that the incidents that have occurred either through unwanted acts or words have had a substantial adverse effect upon [her].” The court granted the petition and ordered Sarasti to have no direct or indirect contact with Grams for two years. This appeal followed.
We review harassment restraining orders under an abuse-of-discretion standard. See Anderson v. Lake, 536 N.W.2d 909, 911 (Minn. App. 1995) (finding that caselaw construing the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, now codified at Minn. Stat. § 518.01 (2000), applies to the harassment statute); Mechtel v. Mechtel, 528 N.W.2d 916, 920 (Minn. App. 1995) (describing district court’s discretion to grant relief under the act). We will not set aside a district court’s findings of fact unless clearly erroneous, and we give due regard to the district court’s opportunity to judge the credibility of witnesses. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.
If the district court finds that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that [a person] has engaged in harassment,” then a harassment restraining order may be issued. Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 5(3) (2000); Davidson v. Webb, 535 N.W.2d 822, 824 (Minn. App. 1995). The order must be supported by sufficient evidence. Bjergum v. Bjergum, 392 N.W.2d 604, 606 (Minn. App. 1986).
“Harassment,” in this context, includes
repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that have a substantial adverse effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between the actor and the intended target.
Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 1(a)(1) (2000); Davidson, 535 N.W.2d at 824-25 (holding that sufficient evidence of harassment existed where restaurant manager raised voice, yelled and swore, poked at shopping center manager’s lip, and threatened him). Conduct need not be obscene or vulgar to constitute harassment. Welsh v. Johnson, 508 N.W.2d 212, 216 (Minn. App. 1993).
Sarasti essentially argues that Grams and her friend testified falsely. Giving due regard to the district court’s opportunity to judge the credibility of witnesses, we cannot conclude that the court clearly erred in accepting their testimony and discounting that of Sarasti. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01. The district court’s findings of fact are not clearly erroneous and they support the issuance of the harassment restraining order.