Uma Thurman's Fixated Fan Found Guilty of Stalking
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
NEW YORK, May 6 -- There were two years of love-besotted notes, creepy drawings and unwelcome nighttime visits, but Jack Jordan believed he had stayed on the right side of the law in his quest to meet and marry actress Uma Thurman. A jury in Manhattan on Tuesday said he had crossed the line.
Jordan, a 37-year-old with a history of mental illness, was found guilty of one count of stalking and one count of second-degree aggravated harassment after a trial that included anguished testimony from the star of "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill" as well as from her parents. It was the end of a one-sided, plainly delusional romance that started in 2005 with a seemingly benign e-mail to Thurman's father and escalated until Jordan was arrested last October.
The trial had spectacle to spare, including a freaked-out celebrity and a highly eccentric defendant, who smoked hand-rolled cigarettes and slept outdoors during the trial, using a chunky knapsack as a pillow. It also had moments of actual physical menace, though those were provided not by the accused -- rather, they came courtesy of the reporters who laid siege to jurors as they tried to leave the state Supreme Court building after the verdict.
None of those citizens wanted to utter a word about their deliberations, but TV news cameras and correspondents hounded each of them for a block before giving up or getting a grudging sentence or two. The news crews apparently missed the irony of tormenting the jurors in a harassment trial.
One juror, a 60-ish woman in a red dress, found herself cornered on the courthouse stairs.
"We thought [Jordan] was weird," she murmured, after trying five variations of "I don't want to talk." If the police hadn't been around to help her, she might still be stuck on those steps.
A judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation to be completed before Jordan's next court date on June 2. Both stalking and aggravated harassment are misdemeanors; the former crime could land Jordan in prison for 90 days, the latter for somewhat more.
How exactly Jordan, a University of Chicago graduate with roots in Maryland, became so fixated on Thurman isn't clear. On the stand he said that he knew only that it all started with "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," a film released in 1988. And in one of his letters to Thurman he noted that she wasn't the first celebrity to have won him over. "I gave up trying to describe the contents of my heart to famous women I don't know," he wrote, "after Carol Channing broke my heart in the early nineties."
Jordan's lawyer argued that his client was persistent and a little strange, but that he never intended to harm or scare Thurman and that he would have given up if she had ever told him to. The jury, it seems, agreed somewhat. Jordan was acquitted of two counts of second-degree aggravated harassment.
On more than a few occasions, Thurman's friends and family had told Jordan to back off, but in his letters he suggests that they were thwarting not just his desire to meet her, but her desire to meet him.
"He doesn't think like most of us," George Vomvolakis, Jordan's lawyer, told the jury last week. "But there was a method to his madness. He wanted to meet her and see if she could possibly feel the same way as him."
He sure had an odd idea of courtship. Jordan, who attended Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, sent increasingly disjointed and frustrated e-mails to Thurman's father, a professor of Buddhism at Columbia University. "Did you ever feeel like you were the last one to be invited to the party? Naked?" he wrote in February 2005. Initially, he asked for some help with a company where he worked as a trekking guide. Then he asked for an introduction to Uma, and then he started writing to her as if she, not her father, were the recipient of his e-mails. "I want you to be happy," he wrote at one point. "That's not completely true. I have a strong feeling that you won't be completely happy without me. That's the only reason I haven't quit eating."