Madonna faces 'stalker' in court

TIM CORNWELL

Los Angeles

Madonna's attempt to stay out of the presence of the man charged with stalking her was denied by a judge yesterday.

Robert Dewey Hoskins, the drifter who allegedly scaled a fence at the singer's Hollywood estate bearing a heart-shaped sign with the words "Love to my wife Madnna [sic]", had a right to face his accuser, Judge Jacqueline Connor ruled.

Declaring she was sick to her stomach at being in the same room with the man charged with stalking her, Madonna told a jury he haunted her nightmares. She testified she was told by one of her bodyguards that Mr Hoskins had scaled the walls of her property, declared he would marry her and said "I'm going to slice her throat from ear to ear." Asked by a prosecutor how she felt hearing of the threat, she said, "I guess I felt incredibly violated."

The entertainer, dressed in a black knit suit, was asked how she felt being in the same room with Mr Hoskins. "Sick to my stomach," she said, closing her eyes. "I feel incredibly disturbed that the man who threatened my life is sitting across from me and he has somehow made his fantasies come true. I'm sitting in front of him and that's what he wants."

Charged with stalking and making terrorist threats against Madonna, Mr Hoskins faces up to 10 years in jail. He was shot and wounded in the arm and abdomen by a bodyguard, Basil Stephens, after being caught on the perimeter of Madonna's Hollywood Hills estate last May. He had appeared there on two previous occasions, prosecutors said.

Madonna had failed to appear in court on Tuesday. A threat from the judge to jail her on $5m bail brought a request from her attorney for her to testify on videotape or with Mr Hoskins removed from court. That was denied yesterday.

Madonna, who recently returned from England and is set to begin filming Evita in Argentina, had already delayed the case by resisting a subpoena to testify. Her lawyer said she was "tired and sick" and her schedule would not permit her court appearance. Stalkers are a recurring nightmare of female show-business stars. Last year, California broadened its definition of stalking as placing a person in fear of his or her safety, even without intent to carry out the threat.

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