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

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."

Comments () | Archives (12)

I guess the plus side of my bland and boring existence is that no one will be stalking me anytime soon.

How does Assistant Public Defender Judith Greenberg sleep at night?

How would she feel if the girl being stalked was her daughter? How would she react to someone making a claim he was trying to 'protect' her? What kind of person makes it their job to defend criminal behaviour?

This guy was obsessed with Shawn Johnson and she's really lucky she wasn't hurt. Poor girl to experience such fear.

What a lame argument by Assistant Public Defender Judith Greenberg. Hey, I got an idea. How about we set your client free so he can "protect" your daughter. Bet you'd like that, wouldn't you...

How does Assistant Public Defender Judith Greenberg sleep at night??

It's her job and her responsibility down to the letter of the law to provide the best defense possible for her client. Remember, it still says "innocent until proven guilty" - no matter how guilty a person really is.

Public defenders are there for everyone, no matter the crime they are accused of.

However, having a public defender is one of the quickest ways to go to jail.

Hopefully this guy will get the maximum sentence. But he will still be out too soon. It should be guilty by reason of insanity in these types of cases, not innocent.

Nuts is nuts. How come they don't lock up a cockroach like this forever just as they should do with rapist and child molesters. They don't get better and when the courts recognize that they are nuts but lets them out, they now have permission to act our their nutsness. I guess they shouldn't be executed but letting them out is not an option either. Maybe a big guy just beating the crap out of them to get their attention that nuts is not acceptable. I always thought they should be frozen like Walt Disney until a cure can be found for them. That way society has not executed them but also doesn't have to feed them either.

Hey Ruby,

This is America where you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is a defense attorney's job to DEFEND their client. What should she have done? Asked the judge to throw the book at her client? I think the client could probably have done that on his own.

Believe it or not, it is the prosecutor's job to actually prove a crime was committed. I don't know too many details about the case but just because the guy had some weapons in his car doesn't mean a crime was committed. It seems like the guy has some mental problems and could probably use some mental help. Do some research on how many mentally ill people are in jail not being treated but are forced to whither away in cell because our society doesn't know what to do with them. Then they'll eventually end up back there because guess what? They are mentall ill!

Now that doesn't make it right if he did in fact do something wrong. But it is still on the prosecution to prove that is the case. It also doesn't mean we should just lock the guy up and forget about him. Like I said, he could probably use some help and it would benefit ALL of society if he (and others like him) got it.

It would have been unfortunate for Miss Johnson to quit DWTS when she was doing so well. But then, Gilles Marini would have been the winner: IMO, he was a better dancer - and AIMO, Cheryl Burke is HOT and deserved a third MirrorBall trophy (which is actually becoming an extremely tough prize to win!)

Psychiatrists are such a joke.../

Public defenders have a duty to uphold...as sleazy and grotesque as his/her client may be, it's the defense job to get the client off the hook. All part of being a lawyer...

Ruby Jackson-Though I agree with you, Judith Greensberg is a public defender and by law is required to do her job. She like many other public defenders probably would love to let the bad ones get life or worse. But her job is to follow the laws and protect her client.

Lay off the defense lawyer. She's just doing her job and upholding our nations laws. This holier than thou complex and misunderstanding of the law and morals is getting old. A lot of you are so eager to uphold the law when its about illegal immigrants but when its something like this the law doesn't matter.

I sincerely hope that none of the idiotic, narrow-minded people posting here ever have a loved one with a mental illness who is accused of a crime. In our system of justice, a person who acts out due to a legitimate mental disability should be treated differently than the perfectly sane person who can recognize that their conduct is wrong. To those of you who so self-righteously wonder how this defense attorney can sleep at night: I guarantee you that if one of your family members is mentally ill and in the criminal justice system, you would beg for an attorney like Ms. Greenberg, as opposed to someone who would just take your money, plead your relative guilty and not give a damn what would happen to him/her in the prison system. Which, by the way, would probably be that he/she would be terrorized and abused by both the sane inmates and some of the prison staff, all the while not even understanding why he/she is even there.


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