Dante Soiu was acquitted of stalking Gwyneth Paltrow on February 17 despite sending the actress numerous upsetting letters, and despite the fact it was the second time Paltrow had faced Soiu in court. The first time, he sent sex toys and sexually charged letters to her, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2001, and committed to a mental health institution for three years.
Soiu’s lawyer, Lynda Westlund, told FOX411 that this time around, Paltrow misinterpreted Soiu’s letters and intentions. “The new set of letters, as opposed to the ones some 17 years ago, contain nothing sexual, only religious,” Westlund explained.
Yet one excerpt from one of Soiu’s “religious” letters to Paltrow read in part: “Now you must die. Yourself, must die so that Christ can have preeminence."
So when is stalking, stalking?
Retired detective and criminal consultant Mike Proctor explained the complexities of stalking cases.
“It is the evaluation of all of the utterances and behavior exhibited by the stalker. In this case, Dante Soiu, that ultimately led to a credible threat, not a direct threat,” Proctor said. “The difference between credible threat versus a direct threat is that a direct threat is something like, 'I am going to chop your head off and feed it to my dogs.' Whereas a credible threat is developed by the actions of the stalker causing the victim, in this case Gwyneth to exhibit fear and/or emotional distress.”
Criminal defense attorney Lance Fletcher added that “stalking charges are difficult for prosecutors because we live in a free society and the first amendment gives us broad protections from the government interfering with our private communications.”
Maureen Curtis, Vice President of Criminal Justice Programs at Safe Horizon, a non-profit victims services organization, said society’s perspective on stalking is part of the reason stalkers can walk free.
“People may look at these cases and think, 'well, he just admires you.' Or for high profile cases involving celebrities there is this unfair idea that it comes with the territory because they chose fame and can't expect the same level of privacy. Or that this individual is just a fan and admires you,” Curtis said. “This kind of thinking unfortunately excuses stalking behavior.”
FOX411 reached out to Gwyneth Paltrow and the Los Angeles Police Department but did not receive comment.
According to Westlund, neither has anything to worry about from her client going forward. "He's not angry. He does not have it in him to hurt Gwyneth nor anyone else," Westlund said. "He was actually a pleasure to work with, because he's gentle as a lamb, and someone childlike. I don't believe Ms. Paltrow will ever hear from him again.”