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Accused celebrity stalker faces psychiatric exam

A judge seeks data on the competency of a woman found near the homes of Tom Cruise and John Cusack.

June 14, 2008|Harriet Ryan | Times Staff Writer

For several years, Emily Leatherman has been accused of repeatedly stalking actors John Cusack and Tom Cruise, at one point allegedly throwing a bag containing love letters, rocks and screwdrivers over a fence at Cusack's home.

On Friday, a judge in Van Nuys ordered Leatherman, 33, to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is mentally competent to stand trial.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Susan M. Speer, who is presiding over the Cusack case, said her doubts about Leatherman's mental state were based in part on a flurry of "delusional" court papers filed by the defendant, who was acting as her own attorney.

"It's obvious to me that you suffer from extreme paranoia," the judge said, referring to motions in which Leatherman said she was the victim of a sex-trafficking ring that involved police and celebrities, including Cusack, Cruise and Nicolas Cage.

Leatherman was arrested outside Cusack's Malibu residence in March and charged with felony stalking, violating a restraining order and petty theft.

Cusack had filed for a restraining order after a previous incident in which Leatherman threw the materials over the fence at his home.

Last year, she was arrested outside Cruise's Beverly Hills home on suspicion of violating a restraining order.

In ordering the psychiatric exam, the judge also cited the nature of the charges.

"Stalking of a celebrity is often committed by a mentally disoriented person," the judge said.

Leatherman insisted that she was competent and said the judge should instead order mental evaluations for herself and the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Ambrose.

Leatherman also asked that Cusack "come forward" and admit that he had lied when he denied knowing her.

"He might have to go to prison or jail for a couple months," she told the judge.

A lawyer for Cusack was in court, but declined to comment.

The actor's publicist said he was filming out of the country and unavailable for comment.

The next court hearing, during which the judge plans to consider the psychiatrist's report, is scheduled for July 11.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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