A three-year injunction was issued yesterday against a man who made a string of verbally abusive telephone calls and sent similar text messages to City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, then sat in at a Council meeting last month.
Aniruddha Sherbow, 40, must stay away from Gabbard Tamayo’s residence and workplace under the injunction. He must also not contact, threaten or harass Gabbard Tamayo, including through telephone calls or text messages.
Gabbard Tamayo said she does not know Sherbow, who contacted her more than 35 times from Feb. 3 to 23.
Sherbow was not in court when District Judge Maura Okamoto granted Gabbard Tamayo’s request yesterday.
Gabbard Tamayo told the Star-Advertiser that Sherbow, who would only identify himself as "Sphinx," first contacted her on her cellphone on Feb. 3 when he asked her if he could rent office space from her. Her cell number is widely available on the Internet.
When she politely declined, she said, Sherbow called her again the next day and asked whether he could rent space to work out of her home.
The calls and messages continued and became increasingly aggressive, personal and abusive, Gabbard Tamayo said. Early on, one message said, "It’s not that you can’t (help), you’re choosing not to."
Later, a text message said that if she approached him, he would force her to perform a sexual act.
On Feb. 6, Gabbard Tamayo sent Sherbow a text stating, "I don’t know what’s going on, but please don’t text me or call me again."
"He was calling me numerous times, at strange hours," she said.
Gabbard Tamayo said the calls and text messages continued, but she stopped communicating with him. Each contact he made came from a different telephone number he received from his cellphone carrier.
A former state representative who has received angry calls and even death threats, Gabbard Tamayo said those exchanges were typically in reaction to a vote or political position she had taken.
She said she felt the need to approach police about Sherbow because the tone of the voice mails and texts escalated steadily, and none of the anger was based on any political issue or philosophy.
"What was different about this was it escalated very quickly," she said. Later communications were "extremely inappropriate, profane, vulgar and sexual in nature — basically taking it as far as he could go."
On Feb. 19 Sherbow attended a talk-story meeting held in Kapolei by Sen. Mike Gabbard, Gabbard Tamayo’s father, and texted her about the meeting. It was from photos taken by Gabbard’s staff, as well as a sign-in sheet, that enabled police to finally locate Sherbow, who had signed in at the meeting as "Rudy" Sherbow.
On Feb. 23, Sherbow sat in the audience of a regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
"He kept moving around and moving around until he positioned himself directly within my line of sight, and that I knew he was there," she said.
When he walked out of the room, police spoke to him, Gabbard Tamayo said.
That night, she received an angry, profanity-laced telephone message from Sherbow, criticizing her for taking the matter to police and telling her "you shouldn’t have done that."
Police arrested Sherbow on March 4. He was charged with harassment and released on $500 bail.
Gabbard Tamayo said she has had no contact with him since.
The Iraq war veteran, who is 29 and single, said she has taken reasonable precautions, but she declined to discuss specifics.
She emphasized, however, that "I am continuing to live my life the way I did before this started."
She said she is willing to speak publicly about the ordeal to encourage others in similar situations to inform police.
"There are so many people out there who are experiencing harassment and abuse in different forms," Gabbard Tamayo said.
She urged other victims to "be strong, make that decision to fight back and hold people accountable for their actions — otherwise it won’t stop."
Both the police and the Judiciary have supported her, as have family and friends, she said.
"Even if you feel like you’re alone, if you feel like you don’t have anyone, there are people out there who will help."