Picture: Shawn Johnson and Steffi Graf Town & Country presents 'Women Who Make A Difference' Awards at Hearst Tower - Arrivals New York City, USA -...
Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is urging the judge presiding over her harassment case to sentence her stalker to time in a mental institution to help the overzealous fan "get his life back on track".
Robert O'Ryan was arrested in March, 2009 after he attempted to break into the Los Angeles set of Dancing with the Stars, where Johnson was a competitor.
Authorities later found duct tape, a shotgun, a handgun, a knife and a bulletproof vest in his car, and he was charged with felony stalking, felony commercial burglary and two misdemeanour counts of carrying a loaded firearm.
He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but he was convicted on all charges earlier this month (Jun10).
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered O'Ryan to undergo a psychological evaluation next month (Jul10) to determine whether he should be held in a mental hospital or sentenced to prison time.
Now Johnson, who told the court she was so scared by the stalker she even considered leaving the TV competition for safety reasons, has broken her silence for the first time since O'Ryan's conviction, insisting he needs psychological help.
And the 18 year old hopes the professional treatment will help O'Ryan realise his mistakes and prevent him from targeting other young women.
In an interview on U.S. TV's Good Morning America on Tuesday (22Jun10), she says, "I think it (going to a mental hospital) is better than him going to prison because he is ill and he needs help and he needs to get his life back on track.
"Honestly, I think it's better if he stays there for a long time, because, if he gets out, if it's not me, he could go after someone else, so it's kind of my duty to make sure it doesn't happen."
But Johnson is refusing to let the scare derail her plans to compete in the 2012 Olympics - she reveals she recently began training for the big sporting event, which will take place in London.
A hearing to rule on the outcome of the psychological evaluation is scheduled for 13 July (10). If O'Ryan is found to be mentally stable, he faces a maximum of three years and eight months in state prison, plus two years in county jail. Otherwise, he could serve out his sentence in a state mental hospital.