Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Former US athlete accused of threatening Sharapova

AP , MADISON, WISCONSIN

Maria Sharapova serves the ball to Italy’s Karin Knapp at the French Open in Paris, France, on May 31.

PHOTO: AP

A former American college football player was charged on Monday with making threats against tennis star Maria Sharapova and her family in profanity-laced telephone messages to his former coach.

Leonard Taylor Jr, 32, of Indianapolis, faces one felony stalking count and one misdemeanor count of telephone harassment involving his former coach, Barry Alvarez.

His father told police Taylor has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and hasn’t taken his medication for three months, according to the criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

Taylor played defensive back for Wisconsin from 1995 to 1998, when Alvarez was the coach. Taylor also played briefly for the Madison Mad Dogs professional indoor football team.

The complaint said that Wisconsin head athletic trainer Denny Helwig told police in September that Taylor had been calling Alvarez’s office phone and leaving six to seven disturbing messages each night since the beginning of the football season.

Police contacted Taylor by phone the same day they took Helwig’s information. Taylor was apologetic and said Alvarez had nothing to worry about.

He said he thought he could talk to his former coach about his problems, but he would stop calling.

A University of Wisconsin employee identified only as “LW” told police last Wednesday that Taylor left 29 voicemails on Alvarez’s office phone on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25.

Messages relating to Sharapova accused her of committing various injustices against him. He said he wanted to marry her and kill her and her family.

Taylor also said he intended to come to Madison and kill Alvarez and his family if unspecified demands weren’t met within 24 hours.

“Barry, you heard that [expletive] message, [expletive] it. I hate that [expletive] Maria Sharapova ... I just want to look at you one [expletive] last time before I pull the [expletive] trigger, Barry,” one message said.

He also left messages last year that consisted mostly of complaining that a TV network owed him money, the employee identified as “LW” in the complaint told police.

Taylor Jr was arrested on Friday in Indiana, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Monday.

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