The Men in Black megastar and his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, dispatched their lawyers to a Los Angeles court Tuesday to request a restraining order against a disgruntled former employee they say has been stalking and harassing the A-list couple and--even worse--targeting their two young children.
The Smiths are asking a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to order Mike Cooley to keep his distance from the family, their home, place of business and the children's school and day-care facility.
According to court papers, Cooley, 66, and his wife worked for the Smiths for several years--Cooley serving as a caretaker on the Smith's Los Angeles-area estate and his wife as the kids' nanny. The couple lived on the Smiths' property until late last year, when Cooley and his wife were fired for reasons unspecified in the complaint.
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> The firing purportedly set Cooley off. He "personally expressed great anger at the termination and has repeatedly threatened to file a lawsuit against plaintiffs and to go to the National Enquirer and other press with 'embarrassing' allegations (all of which are false) about plaintiffs," the complaint says, "unless plaintiffs pay outrageous and unwarranted sums of money" to Cooley and his wife. No word on the exact nature of those "allegations."
When the Smiths failed to fork over the money, they say Cooley tried a new tact--"stalking and harassing plaintiffs and their children into paying money to defendant."
To that end, the petition says, Cooley has been cruising the streets around the Smiths' home for the past month, driving slow enough "to make sure someone sees him." He has also allegedly been circling the local park where the Smiths' children play.
Then, last Monday, the Smiths claim Cooley pulled his truck up near where their two young children--Jaden, who turned four this week, and year-and-a-half-old Willow--were playing. Cooley allegedly called Jaden, saying, "Come say hi to Mike," but the boy was stopped by a security guard the family hired recently to watch over the kids.
The Smiths say they fear Cooley "is using their children as pawns in his attempts to extort money from them" and his recent behavior makes them "fear for their children's safety."
Cooley, the complaint says, "has caused substantial emotional distress to [the Smiths] and their children and must be stopped by the court."
Cooley was unable to be reached for comment Wednesday. The Smiths' publicist, Stan Rosenfield, declined to comment, saying the complaint speaks for itself.
Will and Jada, who married on New Year's Eve 1997, have always been doting parents to their tight-knit brood, which also includes nine-year-old Trey, Will's son from his previous marriage.
In fact, Will famously left the Oscars in March before the Best Actor category was announced (he was up for Ali) so he could be with Jada and Willow, who had been taken to the hospital with an ear infection and high fever.