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Sandra Bullock stalking case sparks concerns on celebrity safety

CrimeSandra Bullock
Newly released court records provide new information about Sandra Bullock stalking case

New details about an alleged stalker who police say made his way on onto the grounds of Sandra Bullock's home are once again igniting debate about celebrities, safety and privacy.

Celebrities and their attorneys have sought help from lawmakers and police to deal with both aggressive paparazzi and fans who harass the stars.

Among incidents in recent years, one stalker turned up outside Halle Berry’s kitchen and another was apprehended in Selena Gomez’s guest home. A man convicted of stalking Olympic Gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson jumped the fence when she was rehearsing at a studio for “Dancing With the Stars.”

"The increased monetizing of the private lives of celebrities away from the 'red carpet' has resulted in a flood of photographs and personal information now instantly accessible on the Internet and at news stands to the mentally ill fan or criminal," attorney Blair Berk, who represents Gomez, said in a statement.

"... The biggest problem I see happening is the difficulty we find in getting some prosecutors to take seriously the repeated violations of criminal and civil restraining orders by stalkers, especially those with a history of violence and use of weapons," Berk said. "These are complete strangers who show up in my clients' homes and at their children's schools and pose a real and terrifying threat to their security."

Court records released this week provided new information about a case involving Bullock.

Bullock was asleep in her second-floor bedroom in her Hollywood Hills mansion on June 8 when she was awakened by banging coming from her third-floor workout room, the documents said.

The banging appeared to get louder.

Fearing the worst, Bullock went to close her bedroom security door about 6:30 a.m. and that’s when she caught a glimpse of him: a strange man wearing a dark sweat shirt and dark pants.

The close encounter was described in several search warrants used to gather evidence.

Locking the door, Bullock immediately dialed 911. Within minutes, Los Angeles police officers with guns at the ready entered the home and encountered Joshua James Corbett, 39.

They found photos of the actress in his pockets, a letter portraying himself as her husband and the love of her life and a concealed weapon permit from Utah, the documents said.

Investigators would later find a cache of illegal weapons at Corbett's Montrose home, including two automatic rifles. He is now charged with 19 felonies -- mostly gun and stalking charges.

Luckily for officers and Bullock, he was unarmed when they confronted him.

“Sandy. I’m sorry. Please don’t press charges,” Corbett allegedly shouted as he was taken into custody.

He repeated her name numerous times as officers removed him from the imposing Hollywood estate deep in the hills protected by an elaborate fence and a security system and cameras.

In Bullock’s case, detectives determined that Corbett had scaled the two vast gates and forced open a sun room glass door that opened onto a rear patio. Exactly how long Corbett had been inside the home is unknown, the documents said.

When officers found Corbett in Bulliock’s home he had a notebook, four photos of Bullock and a letter addressed to her, according to a search warrant affidavit.

The letter, dated a day before the break-in, revealed the extent of Corbett’s focus on the actress, who he said was “very special to me.”

Corbett referred to himself as her husband and the father of Bullock’s young son, who is also mentioned by name. “I love you and Louie and only want to be a part of your lifes [sic] I miss you very much and think of you every moment of every day,” he wrote. “You are my girl!”

Corbett also wrote that he saw Bullock return home after the American Film Institute’s June 5 gala “and only wished I was at the entrance for your heart when you came home.”

He added, “you are my wife by law, the law of God and belong to me …” “Always and Love forever.” The letter was signed “your Husband, Joshua James Corbett.”

The letter suggested he had been watching Bullock's home for days.

The notebook also “exhibited stalking, obsessive and fixated behavior” regarding Bullock and her son, wrote Det. Christina Cardozzi in the search warrant affidavit.

Corbett told investigators that he broke into Bullock’s home not to scare the actress, but because he “wanted to show … security that her residence was not impervious and she was in danger,” the affidavit said.

Follow Southern California crime @lacrimes and @katemather.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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