CBS3 Stalker trial starts

vontiehltrial
Authorities say John Hart, right, of Havertown, became obsessed with reporter Erika von Tiehl after a handful of dates.

THE VOICE sounded like Mickey Mouse, calling Verizon, to inquire about a CBS3 reporter's cellphone plan.

That Mickey Mouse, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office alleges, was John Hart, a Havertown man who became obsessed with reporter Erika von Tiehl after a handful of dates the two had had in 2011.

Recorded phone conversations between Verizon and a faux female voice prosecutors say was Hart, 39, trying to impersonate von Tiehl were presented to a jury yesterday in Common Pleas Court as his stalking trial opened.

Hart allegedly had von Tiehl's phone number changed and tried to do it several more times, along with cutting off her cable and sending her harassing text messages after she ended their brief relationship.

"You can't always get what you want," Assistant District Attorney Lauren Katona said in her opening statements. "This is a lesson that John Hart refuses to learn. When John Hart doesn't get what he wants, he decides to take it."

Von Tiehl was on the stand for more than an hour and will testify again on Tuesday. At one point, she choked up after discussing the text messages she received that threatened to hurt her career in journalism.

"It was just very scary," she said. "I remember feeling very alone and not being able to do anything about it."

The two met in August 2011 when Hart contacted von Tiehl through Facebook and bonded over their shared love for the movie "Anchorman." Facebook messages turned into phone calls, then drinks and dinner and Hart eventually spent the night.

Von Tiehl testified that a phone call Hart allegedly made to his brother, one in which she said he lied profusely, was a huge red flag and by October, when he was pushing the gas pedal on the relationship, she decided to break it off.

The text messages, calling her obscene names and threatening to reveal dirt to then-Daily News Gossip columnist Dan Gross began about a week later.

Under cross-examination by Hart's attorney, Jack McMahon, von Tiehl admitted she had never really shared personal information with Hart and had no definitive proof that he was able to get her Social Security number and other personal information while he was in her house.

McMahon also challenged von Tiehl's assertion that the voice on the Verizon recordings belonged to Hart.

"Did he ever attempt to show you his skills in doing female voices?" McMahon asked.

The jury will also hear from another ex-girlfriend of Hart's who alleged he did the same thing to her when they dated.

On Twitter: @JasonNark