Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Stalker’ Acquitted After Jury Decides He Meant Well
Gwyneth Paltrow has taken an alleged stalker to court for the second time — but evidently, the jury was less scared of him than she is. 66-year-old Dante Soiu was acquitted after hearing testimony from several witnesses, including Paltrow, who voiced her fear over learning she'd been getting new missives from the man who mailed her sex toys, went to her family's home and once wrote "I have a goal: to marry Gwyneth Paltrow and take care of her."
The Ohio man had already faced one trial back in 2000 over hundreds of letters and packages he'd sent to Paltrow, which included pornographic imagery and an explicitly declared intention to perform the acts with her. He also trespassed at her parents' home in L.A. twice, and was arrested on his second "visit."
In 2001, Soiu was committed to a mental health facility for three years and found not guilty by reason of insanity. This most recent case arose from Soiu's decision to start writing the actress again in a series of letters sent from 2009 to 2014. According to CBS News, one letter reiterated Soiu's previous references to Paltrow's death. "You are hopelessly lost," Soiu wrote in 2010. "Now you must die. Yourself, must die so that Christ can have preeminence."
But Soiu's lawer, Lynda Westlund, argued that his second spate of correspondence was intended to make amends for the first (and far more lascivious) messages he'd sent in the late '90s. As the target of his obsession, Paltrow disagreed, and Billboard reports she became tearful on the stand. She also said she feared for the safety of her children.
"I felt very upset by it. It defied logic, and I found it very, very upsetting," Paltrow told the prosecutor in court. "This was something I had been through a very long and traumatic experience with already."
"I'm not stalking you, but just giving you an invitation to what I say as choice to consider," Soiu wrote in a 2014 letter. According to his own letters (via Billboard), he sent her earrings for Christmas in 2009, used clothes, a Weight Watchers cookbook, religious books and copies of his letters to President Barack Obama and Angelina Jolie.
Regrettably, the jury viewed the letters as harmless devotion and acquitted Soiu, minimizing Paltrow's 15-years-long experience in the same way law enforcement and onlookers shrug off women's stalking complaints every day. And while Paltrow may have a small army of bodyguards, lawyers and PR reps to protect her from someone like Soiu, dismissing his actions as well-intended sets an unfortunate precedent for stalking victims who don't have those resources at their disposal.
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