Ashanti's mom says crazed fan terrorized her

Singer/songwriter, actress Ashanti unveils "Be Amazing" billboard as part of a Boys & Girls Clubs of America new advocacy campaign, in Times Square on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

December 17, 2009 12:56:35 PM PST
A fan obsessed with R&B star Ashanti composed a barrage of creepy text messages detailing his lewd fantasies about the multiplatinum-selling singer, her mother testified Thursday at the man's trial. Tina Douglas told a Manhattan jury that Devard Hurd also attached photos of male genitals to some of the more than 30 rambling text messages sent to her cell phone over several weeks earlier this year.

"It was just disgusting and humiliating and extremely frightening," Douglas said.

Hurd, a gym worker from Indiana, was arrested in July on charges of stalking and harassment after ignoring repeated warnings by Ashanti's family to stop trying to contact her through her mother, Assistant District Attorney Carolina Holderness said in opening statements.

"The defendant refused to listen," the prosecutor said. "The messages became more personal and more offensive."

Defense attorney Richard Verchick said Hurd was misunderstood.

"Sending pictures and texts is not crime," he said. "The intent was never to harass Tina or Ashanti. ... What he wanted was what we all want in life -- love."

Douglas, who manages her daughter, testified that she "freaked out" and pulled her daughter out of a rehearsal of "The Whiz" after receiving a text that mentioned seeing Ashanti's car as it arrived at the theater. Ashanti starred as Dorothy in an off-Broadway revival of the musical this summer.

"I was afraid this person could have been in New York," she said. "I wanted to protect my daughter."

Raised in Glen Cove, New York, Ashanti got her first record deal at 14; her hits include "Foolish" and "Only U." She has appeared in films including "Coach Carter" and "John Tucker Must Die."