The letters addressed to film star Gwyneth Paltrow came for years, often with unsolicited items ranging from pornography and sex toys to religious books, earrings, and clothes.
The last package for Paltrow arrived in January 2015 and is now part of a stalking case against Dante Soiu, a man the actress had previously faced in court in a proceeding that resulted in him spending years in a mental institution in 1999 and 2000.
Paltrow faced Mr Soiu once again on Monday evening, this time in a case filed over 66 items he has sent her in recent years with notes about his desire to marry her, discussing her death and religious writings.
At times fighting back tears, Paltrow described the impact of the letters, which began arriving after she won her best actress Academy Award in 1999 and resumed after a hiatus in 2009.
“I felt very upset by it. It defied logic, and I found it very, very upsetting,” Paltrow said, noting the later letters came after she had two children.
“This was something I had been through a very long and traumatic experience with already.”
Mr Soiu has pleaded not guilty to felony stalking, and his attorney contends his writings were non-threatening and focused on scripture and his desire to minister to the actress.
His attorney also noted that, unlike in 1999, Mr Soiu had not travelled to try to meet Paltrow recently.
Paltrow read excerpts of the notes Mr Soiu sent in measured tones during her two-and-a-half hour testimony, but broke down when a prosecutor asked if she was afraid of him and feared for her children’s safety.
“Yes,” the actress tearfully responded.
Paltrow’s head of security, Terry Abbott, said he always informed his client when a letter from Mr Soiu was received, but he stopped providing her details after one debriefing “caused her too much distress.”
Paltrow, 43, testified about letters and packages she received from Mr Soiu dating to 1999, including several that contained pornography, sex toys, and statements that he wanted to cleanse her of sin.
“This is a case that has gone on for Ms Paltrow for 17 years,” Deputy District Attorney Wendy Segall said during opening statements.
“Her sense of security has been shattered by this man.”
Mr Soiu was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2000 in a previous trial involving the pornographic messages he sent Paltrow.
He was sent to a mental institution, but re-arrested last year after sending the actress new correspondence.
The recent batch letters described Mr Soiu’s intention to marry the actress, as well as a pair of earrings he sent her in 2009 as a Christmas gift, some second-hand clothes and a Weight Watchers cookbook.
He has also sent her religious books, and forwarded her letters he has sent to Barack Obama and actress Angelina Jolie.
One letter described Paltrow “bowing to death”. The actress said the reference was disturbing.
The case continues.
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