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Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson says she almost left 'Dancing With the Stars' because of alleged stalker

June 11, 2010 |  7:25 am

Shawnjohnson Testimony continues Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom in the trial of a Florida man who is accused of stalking gold-medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Robert M. O'Ryan is charged with felony stalking and commercial burglary. Authorities said he traveled across the country and scaled a fence at CBS Studios in 2009 when the Olympic gymnast was filming the dance competition.

Johnson testified Thursday that she was so afraid of O'Ryan that she considered quitting the popular TV show "Dancing With the Stars."

"He was a stranger to me. To see somebody had that much kind of obsession, it made me really scared," she said, speaking in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Johnson, 18, said when police told her that the man was armed, she was worried enough to consider leaving the TV dance show that she eventually won.

During her testimony, Deputy Dist. Atty. Wendy Segall showed Johnson a series of weapons, including a shotgun, a handgun and a large knife, which the prosecutor said were recovered from O'Ryan's car near the studio after he was arrested.

Johnson appeared to avoid eye contact with O'Ryan, who sat passively throughout the testimony.

Sheryl Shade, Johnson's sports agent, testified that the gymnast was so fearful the night of O'Ryan's arrest that she had to sleep in the same bed as Shade.

O'Ryan has pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. He faces up to three years and eight months in state prison and an additional two years in County Jail if convicted.

Assistant Public Defender Judith Greenberg asked the court to dismiss the charges, arguing that prosecutors had failed to show the necessary criminal intent needed to establish stalking. She said her client, an educated engineer with mental health issues, believed he was there to protect Johnson.

Segall, however, said O'Ryan's possession of a shotgun, a handgun concealed in a book, a knife next to his car seat, zip ties and other tools pointed to his true intent.

Judge Michael E. Pastor refused to dismiss the charges. A forensic psychiatrist hired by the defense testified that although O'Ryan lived in another reality, he never intended to harm the gymnast, only to protect her.

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Shawn Johnson on "Dancing With the Stars."