Spielberg `panicked' by stalker who wanted to rape him

Steven Spielberg, the director of Jurassic Park and Schindler's List, whose latest film, Amistad, has brought the horrors of slavery to American screens, was reduced to panic and distracted from film-making by a convicted criminal who stalked him.

Court records released by a federal judge this week in Los Angeles, quote Mr Spielberg as saying that he became "completely panicked", had nightmares and couldn't focus after learning that a man accused of stalking him had been arrested near his home, armed with razors, a knife, masking tape, and a plan to rape him.

The man, Jonathan Norman, was detained in July after a chase through the elite Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades. Police found a Jurassic Park sticker, a videotape of the film ET and cut-out pictures of dinosaurs in his car. He was on parole after serving a prison term for assault. A police detective, Paul Wright, said Norman told him he had an obsession: "He believed that [Spielberg] wanted to be raped by him."

Spielberg, who was abroad with his family at the time of the arrest, said of the stalking: "It's become an emotional obsession with me ... I'm very distraught over the possibility that this man could come out of jail and go right back on the warpath again." He said he was afraid that Norman might have followed him to Ireland, where he was filming a war film, Saving Private Ryan, disguised himself among the actor-soldiers, gained access to a gun with live ammunition and created an international incident.

The release of the court records - which date from October - followed a challenge from the Los Angeles Times and other media organisations over the secrecy surrounding the investigation. They argued that the secrecy was unwarranted and that Spielberg had been given special treatment because of who he was. They also noted a growing tendency for celebrities to be given anonymity in court cases. The judge described the secrecy in this case as "overkill" and ordered the records unsealed.

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