BREWSTER, NY - Paul Marcarelli, better known to millions of television viewers as "the Verizon guy," has been sued for sexual harassment and making terroristic threats by telephone. The suit was filed by Marcarelli's ex-fiancé, Julia Richardson, in Brewster, NY, where Marcarelli lives when he isn't traveling the country asking "Can you hear me now?"
According to Richardson, 28, she is the person to whom Marcarelli is speaking in the Verizon ads. Moreover, she alleges that Marcarelli, 37, has made hundreds of additional off-camera calls to her Brewster townhouse and to Brewster Realty, where she is employed as a sales trainee.
"Paul just can't seem to realize it's over," said Richardson, who broke her engagement with Marcarelli "because celebrity went to his head and that was affecting our relationship. We couldn't go anywhere without Paul talking on his cell phone and looking around to see if anyone recognized him. He even refused to wear anything but the clothes he wore in the TV ads."
Richardson's suit further alleges that the harassing phone calls began shortly after their breakup two years ago. "At first I thought it was cute," she said, "but then he started calling at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes he just breathed heavily into the phone like some pervert, then he would scream ‘Can you hear me now?' at the top of his lungs. I asked him to stop, but he laughed and said, ‘I can't hear you. You're breaking up. You don't want to break up, do you, bitch?'"
Marcarelli did not return phone calls from reporters. A message on his answering machine referred all inquiries to Verizon's corporate headquarters. A spokesperson there explained that neither Marcarelli nor Verizon "is at liberty to talk to the press" right now.
Little is known about Marcarelli because of Verizon's keen interest in "keeping him in character." A Lexis-Nexis search revealed only that he had appeared in several Off Broadway plays before he was chosen for the Verizon part. He beat out more than 1,000 applicants for that role, including Tony Danza, Emilio Estevez, and Macauly Caulkin.
In related news, Brian Baker, who plays the Sprint Guy in television commercials, claims he was not surprised by the suit against Marcarelli.
"Paul has a vindictive streak," said Baker. "I had to change my cell phone number several times after he found out that I had been named one of People magazine's sexiest men alive in 2001. He used to call me in the middle of the night singing ‘D'ya Think I'm Sexy' in this really bad Rod Stewart voice."