A Los Angeles judge granted an order requiring 34-year-old Tina Marie Ledbetter--who was convicted of threatening Michael J. Fox in 1989--to stay at least 100 yards from Bakula; his ex-wife, Krista Neumann; his girlfriend, Chelsea Field; and his three children. The order--which warns Ledbetter not to "alarm, annoy or harass" Bakula and his family--is effective until an August 19 hearing, when a judge will consider extending the order.
Bakula said in court papers that Ledbetter mailed unsigned letters to him and Field, telling him not to betray his fans by divorcing his wife. "Please announce on nationwide TV that you are NOT divorcing Krista and Chelsea is NOT pregnant with your baby!" one letter read. "How can you betray your fans! Do NOT divorce Krista! You 2 belong together. You are a match made in heaven."
A security agency that scans Bakula's mail informed the actor about Ledbetter and her past. She first drew media attention in 1989, when she sent nearly 6,000 letters--an average of 15 per day--to Fox. She told investigators she was furious over Fox's split with actor Nancy McKeon and subsequent marriage to actor Tracy Pollan and had threatened to kill the couple. Some packages contained rabbit droppings. Ledbetter pleaded guilty to three counts of making terrorist threats and received three years' probation and psychiatric counseling.
She received a relatively light sentence by today's standards, because stalking laws and enforcement standards weren't established until 1990, a year after the murder of My Sister Sam actor Rebecca Shaeffer. Her death is considered by stalking experts as the bellwether event for such laws.
Now, Los Angeles has tough penalties against stalking, and if Ledbetter violates the restraining order, she could face between two and four years in prison. "As the entertainment capital," said Det. Sam McCauley of the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD, "Los Angeles now has some of the most aggressive laws in the country against stalking." The first of its kind, the unit was formed in 1990, a year after Shaeffer's murder. "We saw a need for a unit of this type that dealt with the issue of stalking," said McCauley.