It started after The Current radio host Mary Lucia sent a sympathetic e-mail to a listener who wrote in last spring grieving about his dead dog.
Before long, the man began sending a stream of e-mails, phone calls and gifts — flowers, sausages, candy and a picture of a man in a mask, according to court records.
In July, Lucia filed for a restraining order against Patrick H. Kelly, 56, of Eden Prairie. The radio station had previously sent him a cease-and-desist letter. Still, Kelly’s advances continued.
“He believes we are in a ‘relationship,’ ” Lucia wrote in the application for the restraining order. “He got ahold of my cellphone # somehow and left me a message about getting together this weekend. He’s unstable and delusional.”
On her show Wednesday, Lucia announced that she is taking a leave of absence from the program. In a letter posted on the station’s website, she said she decided to take the leave after being stalked at work and home.
“My life over the last year has involved a series of restraining orders, seemingly endless calls to 911, the installation of security cameras at home, and police photo ID lineups,” Lucia wrote. “I’ve been constantly looking over my shoulder, dead-bolting doors, and jumping when someone rings my doorbell or my motion lights go off.”
It is unclear how long Lucia will be off air. In the interim, her afternoon shift will be covered by a rotation cast of Bill DeVille, David Campbell and Jim McGuinn.
Kelly was charged last October with a single count of stalking, after Minneapolis authorities say he violated the court order, which prohibited him “from being within two city blocks or ¼ mile in all directions, whichever distance is greater,” of Lucia, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court. Records show he also delivered or sent gifts to her home and work, including the flowers, sausages, a Leap Frog calculator, candy and a picture of a man in a mask.
Kelly is expected to appear in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday. He faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
There was nobody at Kelly’s home Thursday night. His attorney, Arthur Martinez, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Authorities allege that Kelly began stalking Lucia and harassing her with e-mails and phone calls made to both her work and personal numbers.
The e-mails, which started in March 2014, were never “overly sexual or aggressive in nature,” but struck Lucia as “delusional,” according to a police report.
In Kelly’s first e-mail about his dog, he also asked her for a date. After the initial reply, Lucia cut off contact.
In a cease-and-desist letter from Minnesota Public Radio, the Current’s parent company, attorney Mitzi Gramling wrote that the “unwanted attention” was interfering with Lucia’s “ability to perform her job, and impacts her feelings of safety, security and privacy.”
Gramling said that station officials had contacted St. Paul police. Officers there launched an investigation and then turned it over to Minneapolis authorities.
MPR issued a statement Thursday saying it supports Lucia “completely in her decision to take a leave of absence.”
Lucia could not be reached for comment.
Showings of support for her have poured in through Twitter and Facebook. Fellow Current jockey David Campbell posted a message on his Facebook page that described how hard it was for Lucia to open up about her ordeal.
“I saw her trembling lips and shaking hands,” Campbell wrote. “What I do know is that my friend Mary is a bad-ass. I’ve watched her stand up and advocate for herself through this whole ordeal.”
Staff writer Kim Palmer contributed to this report.