Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Donald Sterling Was Only Her Boss, Stiviano Says

LOS ANGELES (CN) - V. Stiviano worked for Donald Sterling's charitable foundation and their relationship was platonic, not sexual, she testified Friday, as her $3 million bench trial against Shelly Sterling came to an end.

Dressed in a peach suit jacket and tan blouse, Stiviano testified Friday morning that Donald Sterling had never made sexual advances toward her but they had joked about sex.

"He's almost 80 years old. I don't know if he can still do things or not," Stiviano said.

"We had such a strong bond, he was like father figure," Stiviano said of her relationship with the billionaire former Los Angeles Clippers owner.

"It was love at first sight. It was beautiful. He became my everything. I became his all. It was everything a person would want."

With $3 million at stake, attorneys presented closing arguments Friday afternoon in Shelly Sterling's bench trial against her husband's former girlfriend.

Shelly Sterling sued Stiviano in civil court last year, claiming that Donald had given her a Ferrari, two Bentleys, a Range Rover and a $1.8 million duplex without her permission, and that Stiviano had refused to return them.

They were bought using marital property, including assets from their real estate company, Beverly Hills Properties, Shelly Sterling says.

Donald Sterling lost his NBA team after audiotapes were made public in which he criticized Stiviano for going to Clippers games with black men, including NBA icon Magic Johnson.

During the three-day trial, the court heard testimony from a forensic accountant who said Donald Sterling spent $400,000 on vehicles, as much as $1.2 million in cash, and $200,000 on credit card charges on luxury items, including a shopping spree in Paris.

Shelly Sterling testified that Stiviano is to blame for ending the Sterlings' interest in the Clippers, after she leaked her husband's racist comments to TMZ.

As well as losing the NBA basketball team after Shelly took him to court to sanction the $2 billion sale of the Clippers to businessman Steve Ballmer, Donald Sterling received a lifetime ban from the NBA.

"She actually turned in some tapes that took him down, took us both down," Shelly testified.

Stiviano's testimony began Thursday. Her attorney Mac Nehoray cross-examined her Friday morning.

Stiviano said she had worked for Sterling for 2½ years, starting work at the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation in 2011. She said her relationship with Sterling began to break down on her birthday, Oct. 21, 2013, culminating in Shelly's lawsuit the next year.

Her 50-hour work week included driving Donald to real estate deals, Stiviano said, adding that she sometimes finished work at 1 a.m. Though there was no formal contract for her work, she said there was an oral agreement that she would be looked after.

"He would compensate me for my time in other ways," Stiviano said.

Stiviano filed a counterclaim last year for $10 million in damages against Shelly, Donald and the Clippers, claiming they had slandered her on national television.

In that complaint, she claimed that she had never had a sexual relationship with Donald Sterling because he "is a homosexual and enjoyed sexual acts and/or sexual congress with males."

That complaint was dismissed, but Stiviano continued to cast doubt on Donald Sterling's sexuality during the trial.

She claimed that Shelly Sterling had cornered her at a Christmas party and warned her not to "disappoint" her and her husband.

"She said Mr. Sterling is very private about his gay life and he wanted to keep it confidential," Stiviano said.

When she accompanied Donald Sterling on overseas trips to Dubai, Paris, Thailand, Italy and Monte Carlo, his "very special friend," Mohammad Fawaz or "Mo" always came too, she said.

She said she saw Sterling give Mo hundreds of thousands of dollars in cashier's checks on several occasions. Sterling lavished money on her family, friends, Clippers employees and friends at games, she added.

"Everyone he knew - he was always giving envelopes left and right," Stiviano said. "I delivered envelopes for him personally."

During closing arguments in the afternoon, Attorney Pierce O'Donnell dismissed the notion that Stiviano was an employee, citing the many trips abroad she had made with Donald Sterling.

"That's more of a paramour than an employee," O'Donnell said.

He urged the judge to award The Sterling Trust quiet title to the house and place it in a constructive trust, and to order Stiviano to return all the money and property to Shelly.

Due to the complexity of unraveling financial records in the case, O'Donnell downgraded their initial estimate of $3.6 million in gifts. Shelly is now asking for an award of $2.9 million.

But Nehoray argued that the duplex had always been under Stiviano's name.

"This was not under community at any time," Nehoray said. "There was no arrangement to have this property vested under Sterling Family Trust."

The sections of California family law that Shelly Sterling relied on to reclaim the gifts as marital property do not allow couples to "go after third parties," he added.

"My client does not have a fiduciary duty to anyone," Nehoray said.

After the hearing, O'Donnell hit back at claims that Stiviano had made regarding Donald Sterling's sexuality.

"It's not just scandalous, it's scurrilous. I'm telling you right now, it's a damnable lie, and Shelly is joined at the hip with Donald on this outrage. This may not be the last Sterling lawsuit in this courthouse," O'Donnell said.

He called Mo a "terrific guy" and said that he has a "lot of girlfriends."

Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin took the case under submission. He did not indicate when he expects to rule.

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