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Apple's Tim Cook wins restraining order against woman, citing trespassing and threats

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center.
Justin Sullivan
/
Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center.

A California judge has granted a restraining order against a Virginia woman accused of stalking Apple CEO Tim Cook, threatening to burn down his Palo Alto home and trespassing on his property twice.

The 45-year-old woman from McLean, Va., has demonstrated "erratic, threatening and bizarre" behavior, including emails that featured images of a loaded handgun that the woman claimed she purchased along with a package of ammunition, according to an application for a restraining order filed last week to the Santa Clara County Superior Court of California.

Lawyers for Apple told the judge that the company believes the woman is armed and in the Silicon Valley area and "intends to return to Apple CEO's residence or locate him otherwise in the near future," according to the filing.

The court on Friday, finding the threat against Cook credible, prohibited the woman from possessing a gun or ammunition, interacting with any Apple employees, including Cook, and banned her from entering any Apple properties. Violating the restraining order can result in jail time and a $1,000 fine, according to the order.

NPR is not identifying the woman because she has not been charged with any crime. The Mercury News first reported on the court filings.

Cook first became aware of the woman in late 2020 after she tagged him in tweets claiming that she was Cook's wife and that he was the father of her twin children.

Following that, she sent out a series of more than 200 emails over the course of a several weeks from late October 2020 through mid-November that became "threatening and highly disturbing," according to the filing.

While she was allegedly harassing Cook with a steady stream of menacing messages, Apple's lawyers say she opened several fraudulent corporations with "highly offensive corporate names" in California, New York and Virginia.

She would list Cook as a corporate officer of the fake organizations and include his home address. In Virginia alone, she applied for dozens of corporations under Cook's name. The filing states that in New York, some of the fraudulent entities are still in existence, despite Cook's representatives working to shut them down.

Around September 2021, the woman "became obsessed" with Cook and sent him an email saying she was planning to apply to be his roommate.

She then appeared at Cook's Palo Alto home and told security she wanted to speak with him. After members of Cook's security instructed her to leave, the woman drove away in a Porsche Macan with a Virginia license plate, according to court papers.

The following month, she returned to Cook's property and entered it briefly before heading back to her car. Local police showed up and she tried to flee unsuccessfully. Her Porsche was towed because she had an expired driver's license. She allegedly told authorities she was staying in Palo Alto and "could get violent." Police did not find any weapons in her car.

After that, she continued to send Cook bizarre emails. She provided him with a San Jose address, but when San Jose police attempted to conduct a welfare check at the home, she was not there. The property was an Airbnb, according to lawyers for Apple.

Earlier this month, the woman continued to make threats against Cook from a Twitter account. One message involved an incoherent statement about burning down Cook's property. According to court filings, she also sent Cook two emails imploring him to vacate his home.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.