BY: Tom Hays
NEW YORK – ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent‘ star Kathryn Erbe testified Wednesday that she got a “very bad feeling” from the moment she met a fan accused of stalking her and later panicked when he posted a crude photo of her daughter on the Internet.
Defendant Charles Nagel also took the witness stand, calling himself “shy” and “dramatic” by nature and claiming it was all a misunderstanding.
The photo of Erbe’s then-14-year-old daughter — key evidence against Nagel at the federal trial in Brooklyn — shows her with a cockroach drawn on her face and a dialogue bubble reading, “I’m ugly.”
In sometimes tearful testimony, Erbe recalled first seeing the photo and thinking “that I’m not going to let this go on anymore — that this is my daughter who is totally innocent and relatively defenseless.”
Erbe, 44, filed a complaint that resulted in interstate stalking charges against the 36-year-old Philadelphia man.
Prosecutors allege a campaign of harassment that began in 2008 when Nagel showed up at a Manhattan filming location with his wife and two daughters and tried to hug Erbe. She told the jury that after she fended him off, he kept staring at her as she completed her scene.
“I got a very bad feeling from him,” she said of the initial encounter.
Nagel, an aspiring songwriter who uses the name “Chaz Rose,” later complained on a social network “that the victim had not responded to a song and letter he had written her, that this was causing him to become angry and that he knew where the program was filming,” a criminal complaint says.
In early 2009, Nagel again went to a filming location and approached Erbe, the complaint says. When she recognized him, she had a security guard tell him to leave.
Erbe testified that Nagel persisted, writing her romantic letters — “I love you so much it hurts” — that left even more shaken.
“I just felt he was obsessed,” she said in a halting voice. “It upset me and made me very scared.”
In his testimony, Nagel described himself as an avid autograph seeker and non-threatening fan of “Criminal Intent.” The USA network series featured Erbe as Detective Alexandra Eames for nine seasons.
“I was shy, star-struck,” he said about meeting the actress. “She was sort of intimidating … because she was in the character of Alexandra Eames and that was pretty cool.”
Nagel also testified that he had fallen prey to someone impersonating Erbe on a social network, believing they had become friends and becoming dismayed when she didn’t recognize him.
The photo of Eames’ daughter? He said that was sent by his own teenager as joke without his knowledge.
And the letters?
“It was my attempt at being dramatic,” he said. “You have to be over the top to get a reply. If your letter is extra sweet, you might actually get a response, and that means a lot to a fan like me.”
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