Dante Michael Soiu, the man accused of stalking actress Gwyneth Paltrow, was found not guilty of the charges Wednesday and released from custody.
Soiu, a 66-year-old man from Columbus, Ohio, was accused by Paltrow of stalking her repeatedly over the last 17 years. Paltrow’s testimony in court focused on recent communications she said she received from Soiu, including unwelcome messages announcing his intent to marry her and references to her death. Soiu also allegedly sent Paltrow pornography, song lyrics and unsolicited gifts.
Prior to the verdict, Soiu’s attorney Lynda Westlund told Entertainment Tonight that her client has written letters to many other celebrities who did not feel threatened and put the blame for the case on Paltrow.
“We’re dealing with a lonely guy who’s on supplemental security income, and sits in his apartment in Ohio at his computer and writes letters to Angelina Jolie, Sylvester Stallone, Julia Roberts, President Obama, Michelle Obama,” Westlund told ET. “None of it has ever been perceived by anybody else, besides Gwyneth Paltrow, as threatening.”
This isn’t the first time Paltrow has taken her stalker to court but their last showdown had a very different result. In 2000, Soiu was committed to a mental institution for six years after a trial regarding messages he had sent the actress. Soiu was rearrested last year after beginning to contact the actress again.
The latest trial included emotional testimony from Paltrow. The Associated Press reported that Paltrow told the court she feared for her safety because some of the letters contained religious references and statements about her death.
“I felt very upset by it,” the actress testified. “This has been a very long and very traumatic experience already.”
Evidence showed that Soiu mailed Paltrow 66 letters from 2009 to 2015. Westlund admitted in court that her client did send the letters but said Soiu is a Christian and that he didn’t write anything explicit in the correspondence.