St. Paul stalking victim struggling with safety, legal system

A St. Paul woman says her ex-boyfriend has turned the last six months of her life into a nightmare, and she sees no end in sight. She blames the ex-boyfriend and the legal system.

Lara (last name withheld) told Fox 9 the problems started when she broke up with Jeff Groves, her boyfriend of about a year. She received an order for protection in August of 2015 after she said Groves destroyed much of her house. And despite more than a dozen police reports, and two arrests, Lara said the problems continued as recently as last Saturday when she saw Groves.

“I feel like a prisoner. I feel like I’m constantly looking over my shoulder,” Lara told Fox 9. “I just want to be able to live in my house with my kids and not be afraid of every little noise and every little thing.”

Lara said Groves has broken into her house several times, stolen items, re-arranged backyard furniture on multiple nights, written strange notes, and possibly bugged her house. She filed police reports after almost every incident.

“I could never understand why sometimes they would arrest him and sometimes they wouldn’t,” she said.

On Nov. 30, 2015, Ramsey County prosecutors charged Groves with violation of the no-contact order after Lara’s dad told police he saw Groves behind her house removing boxes. The charge carries between 30 days and five years in prison, depending on sentencing guidelines. However, Groves reached a plea deal of six months in jail, with the condition that he return items he took from Lara. He has not.

Judge Rosanne Nathanson released Groves on conditional release on Jan. 14. Lara said she has slept with her lights on since that date. 

“I just don’t feel safe. I feel like I’ve done everything I was instructed to do, everything anyone told me to do, whether it be a police officer or someone in the victim’s unit,” Lara told Fox 9.

This is not the first time Groves has been in trouble with the law for harassment. He was convicted in 2009 and 2010 on harassment charges in Hennepin County. He also has other convictions, including for drugs and burglary. 

Lara believes the system has failed her — from the lack of additional arrests, to the short jail sentence, to the lack of monitoring -- “I really felt like you had to wait until this became a rape or a homicide or I got beat up, or something really bad happened to me,” she said.

Groves’ sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18.