Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow said Monday she was left in fear by a flood of letters and emails allegedly sent by a man who was sent to a mental health facility after his 2000 conviction for stalking her and is accused of committing the same crime again.
Testifying in the trial of Dante Michael Soiu, 66, Paltrow said she has “been dealing with this for 17 years” and feared for her safety and her children’s safety.
“I’m in fear because the communications seem to completely defy logic,” she told the six-man, six-woman jury.
Tearful at times, Paltrow read portions of more than 60 letters and emails allegedly sent by Soiu.
In her own description, they ranged from “religious to pornographic to threatening.”
The actress choked up when shown an email she wrote to her security team after she received a letter at her Brentwood home that she believed was from Soiu. She said her mail is generally screened by others, and does not arrive at her home.
“I was terrified,” she told the jury.
She told her security team that she wanted to learn the “bite” and “attack” commands for a guard dog and that “I don’t want him to sleep locked up anymore,” she wrote.
“I need a panic button,” she told the team.
She said Soiu sent her women’s clothing that was intercepted by security personnel.
In one of the letters attributed to Soiu, he wrote, “I love you and I want to marry you.”
He allegedly sent a letter — an exhibit at trial — to Paltrow’s husband Chris Martin, writing, “To the person who is doing it all wrong, you need to turn around and do it right.”
The letters were full of religious references.
“The religious letters suggest that God has ordained him … to be with me … that he is above the law, that God has told him so,” Paltrow said.
One letter read aloud in court stated, “I have no law of sin and death concerning you … to me there is no law … no law of restraint.”
Soiu was arrested in Ohio last year and brought to Los Angeles, where he was charged with one felony count of stalking. He allegedly sent nearly 70 threatening letters and packages to the actress beginning in 2009, the same behavior that had landed him in a hospital before.
Beginning in March 1999, Soiu sent hundreds of letters, emails and packages to the actress and then showed up outside her parents’ home in Southern California in May of that year.
After being asked to leave and later being interviewed by FBI agents in Ohio, Soiu returned to the parents’ home twice.
Deputy District Attorney Rhonda Saunders, who prosecuted the earlier case, said Soiu sent “four to five letters, emails, packages a day,” and made at least one “threat of a sexual nature.”
“If I was his victim, I would be very afraid of him,” Saunders said at the time.
Soiu testified at trial saying he didn’t mean to scare the actress.
In 2002, a state appeals court upheld his conviction, noting that in one of the many letters he sent to the actress, Soiu wrote that “he was going to take God’s scalpel and cut the ‘sin’ out of Ms. Paltrow.”
The court noted that Soiu admitted writing about 3,000 letters to former President George Bush, and while testifying, acknowledged sending 150 letters to President Bill Clinton, in which he said he was “working on helping him come out of his sexual problems.”
His attorney contends that Soiu is not trying to threaten Paltrow, only send her letters expressing his Christian beliefs.
Defense attorney Lynda Westlund grilled Paltrow about her understanding of scripture. She asked Paltrow if she could quote from Corinthians and whether she understood born-again Christians’ interpretation of the Bible.
The actress said her knowledge was “cursory” but that the references scared her.
Westlund also asked her to read aloud a sign-off from Soiu, “as always and forever, I am your friend.”
Another communication, however, read, “We can be one in the spirit, soul and body … form a covenant of one … we meet in God.”
Paltrow, 43, won an Oscar for best actress for her work in “Shakespeare in Love.”