On Monday, actress Sandra Bullock renewed a restraining order against a 41 year old ex-mental patient who’s been stalking her since 2003. After being voluntarily admitted to a mental ward and told to stay away from Bullock, the man, Thomas James Weldon, showed up in a Wyoming emergency ward last month after tracking Bullock again, this time to her Jackson Hole, Wyoming home.
Unfortunately for Bullock, this isn’t the first person she’s had to file a restraining order against. In 2007, she also had to file a restraining order against a 45 year old woman, Marcia Valentine, after the woman tried to run down Bullock’s then husband, Jesse James, in her car. With two restraining orders out now on two separate stalkers, will the restraining orders protect Sandra Bullock and her young son or is she in as much danger as before?
Unfortunately, as many police officers will tell you in private, a lot of the of the time a restraining order isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. A restraining order basically requires the person it’s filed against to stay away from the person who filed it (usually the victim) and to stop all contact with that person. Some states will also require the person to turn over all firearms they may have to police, which was what happened in the case of the one filed against Marcia Valentine by Sandra Bullock (Not surprising really. If Valentine was that dangerous behind the wheel of a car, imagine how dangerous she would be in possession of a gun). Once the restraining order has been filed, if the person it’s been filed against does something that’s not allowed in the restraining order, the victim can contact police and ask them to enforce the rules of the order. In reality, it sounds like a great tool to stop stalkers. In practice however, reality can be very different.
The problem with only having a restraining order against a potentially dangerous person, like in the case of Sandra Bullock’s restraining orders against Valentine and Weldon, by the time the victim is able to call the police his or her life or the lives of her children or family may already be in danger. The violator is already too close, already brandishing a gun, already making threats. Time and time again, in domestic violence cases, in abuse cases, in celebrity stalker cases, the violator ignores the restraining order regulations and does exactly what he or she wanted to do in the first place.
A famous celebrity stalker case was that of Rebecca Schaeffer, a Hollywood actress who was shot and killed in the doorway of her own home by a celebrity stalker, who had stalked her for three years. Another stalker, Mark David Chapman, shot and killed musician John Lennon, after being obsessed with him for years, and comedian and talk show host David Letterman had a female stalker who broke into his house several times.
With a restraining order being a start, but not much more than that, in today’s ever scarier celebrity obsessed world, celebrities like Sandra Bullock often have to do what it takes to protect themselves and hope the police show up if the situation really gets out of hand.
For Sandra Bullock, with restraining orders against two people, luckily she also has a team of body guards she travels with and, rumor has it, Bullock also has top-of-the-line security and alarm systems installed on every house she owns. It’s a pity though that in the litigious society that is America, a celebrity cannot file charges against a stalker that’s clearly a danger to them, with a mandatory jail sentence being the usual result.
Sandra Bullock granted three year restraining order – Contact Music
Bullock renews restraining order against stalker – Yahoo News