Richie wants permanent restraining order

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Richie said photographer Fabricio Luis Mariotto has been stalking her and her family, including her 2-year-old daughter Harlow. The actress also alleges the photographer has gotten too close to her daughter while trying to take pictures of her at school.

A judge delayed making a decision in the matter, and the case was postponed until Dec. 21.

Mariotto was ordered last month to stay at least 100 yards from her as well as her two children and their father, Joel Madden, lead singer for the pop-punk band Good Charlotte.

He denies using aggressive tactics or hounding Richie and her family. He says he hadn't shot her for eight months and that they had been on good terms.

"Her attitude has always been OK," said Mariotto. "I think her major concern is the school and everyone understood that, including me."

He claims it is all a misunderstanding, saying he saw Richie driving and started following her, not knowing he was near a school.

While the First Amendment allows paparazzi to clamor for pictures on the street, celebrity kids at schools is dangerous territory. State law now dictates fines of $5,000 to $50,000 for violations of privacy against any person who trespasses to get a celebrity shot of family activity in a place where the celebrity or child has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

"I'm fighting all her arguments here, saying that I've never been at her school before, I did not know it was there," said Mariotto.

He says he didn't realize until too late that he had followed Richie to her daughter's preschool.

"It didn't have a fence, it didn't have a gate, I just went literally two steps in the grass and then just went back on the sidewalk," said Mariotto.

Richie eluded cameras as she came to court ready to testify.

"She is seeking what every good mother wants, to protect her children," her attorney, Mark Geragos, said in a statement.

Richie says Mariotto's appearance caused her severe emotional distress and frightened her daughter.

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