TV show seeks access in Costner laptop theft case
December 15, 2005
A tabloid TV show wants to record the court hearings involving an Aspen hairdresser who allegedly admitted to stealing Kevin Costner’s laptop computer during the star’s wedding.A producer from “Inside Edition” petitioned Judge James Boyd on Thursday to allow video and audio recordings of Pascal Bensimon’s court appearances. The 44-year-old suspect, who owns an upscale salon in Aspen, is scheduled to appear in court Monday.Boyd could rule on the TV show’s request before then, said clerk of court Hans Jessup.According to the arrest warrant, Bensimon admitted to taking a laptop belonging to the Academy Award-winning actor and director at his Aspen wedding on Sept. 25, 2004.The suspect “was angry with the woman responsible for the Costner wedding, as Bensimon believed she treated him poorly,” the warrant says. He had been hired to style guests’ hair for the ceremony.Pitkin County sheriff’s investigator Ron Ryan said Bensimon felt the wedding manager was being bossy and demanding. Money was also involved in the hard feelings, he said.
“At some point it did turn out to be about money. I don’t know if that was at the time of the wedding,” Ryan said. “He didn’t feel appreciated and issues of money did come up at some point.”After allegedly taking the computer, Bensimon “thought he may be able to sell photographs from the laptop, but then decided against it and had an Apple computer store clear the hard drive,” the warrant says. He did not save any of the pictures or information in the computer.Bensimon turned himself in on Monday and was freed on $5,000 bond.Ryan first learned about the alleged theft in July, when a security guard told him about the incident. The theft was originally reported in October 2004. A sheriff’s report from that time says the Apple PowerBook G4 was valued at $1,500.In July, Ryan met with Crystal Phillips, who works at Bensimon’s salon. She “believed that a computer belonging to Costner” was in her boss’s possession.”Phillips has seen photographs of Costner’s wedding on the computer, which she thought was unusual, as wedding attendees had signed an agreement that they would not take photographs,” the warrant says.Bensimon allegedly told his employee that he had found the laptop in Denver International Airport.
Phillips also told Ryan that Bensimon’s son had called Apple for service on the laptop. The company had previously been notified that the laptop had been stolen and flagged its serial number, according to the warrant. “But since the computer was not sent in for service, the Apple employee was unaware” that it had been flagged as stolen.The suspect’s son then told Phillips that he had learned from Apple that his father was not the owner of the laptop.Bensimon was nearby during that conversation and “appeared uncomfortable about the topic,” the warrant says.Phillips said her boss took the computer with him every time he traveled. And she was present at the suspect’s home in fall 2004 when she overheard Bensimon’s son tell him that the computer was not registered to him.Bensimon “was outwardly nervous when his son made this statement in front of Phillips,” according to the warrant.Ryan’s attempt to gain a search warrant for the suspect’s business and home was unsuccessful because of concerns over the “freshness of the information.” But a computer consultant working for Costner was also investigating the case.On Nov. 18, the consultant posed as a magazine journalist interested in doing a profile of Bensimon, the warrant says. The suspect apparently brought out the computer during the interview at the salon, allowing the consultant to verify its serial number.
He called Ryan, who arrived five minutes later to question Bensimon.The suspect “told his family he found the computer, and no one knows that he stole [it],” the warrant says. Bensimon was adamant that his family knew nothing about the alleged theft.Ryan said Bensimon wrote a statement about the circumstances of the alleged crime.An employee of his salon said Thursday that Bensimon is not commenting on the allegations. Attempts to contact Bensimon’s lawyer were unsuccessful Thursday.Costner and his wife are pleased that the computer has been recovered, Ryan said.He wouldn’t disclose how many wedding pictures were on the laptop before its hard drive was wiped clean.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org