(CN) – The ex-wife of a wealthy businessman must pay him $20,000 for installing spyware on his computers and using it to illegally intercept his emails to try to gain an upper hand in their divorce settlement, a federal judge in Tennessee ruled.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William Carter ordered Crystal Goan to pay ex-husband James Roy Klumb $20,000 for violating federal and state wiretap laws when she used Spectorsoft’s eBlaster spyware to intercept Klumb’s email.
Goan bought and installed the spyware on Klump’s two work computers after their marriage soured and she suspected Klumb of having an affair.
Evidence at trial suggested that Goan not only intercepted his email with the spyware, but also altered some of the emails to make it look like Klumb had been unfaithful, Carter concluded in his 46-page opinion.
Under Goan’s version of their prenuptial agreement, the contract would become null and void if one spouse was found to have committed adultery. The injured spouse would then get three-fourths of the marital assets.
However, Carter said Goan appeared to have also altered the prenup and tricked Klumb into signing it, as Klumb’s version did not contain such language.
Klumb oversees the Greeneville, Tenn. office of Klumb Lumber Co., a third-generation family business based in Mississippi. He owns stock in the family business and has a significant interest in a partnership with his two siblings.
Klumb claimed he never would have agreed to cancel the prenup in the event of infidelity, nor would he have consented to make his company and partnership assets part of their marital property, because the whole purpose of the prenup was to protect those assets for his children.
Klumb met Goan when she was hired to work at the lumber company’s Greeneville office between Goan’s first and second years of law school. They began dating in 2004 and were married from 2006 to 2007.
Carter rejected Goan’s claim that Klumb consented to having eBlaster installed on the computers to prevent his son from looking at pornography and to monitor if valuable trade secrets were being leaked to a competitor.
Carter found the claims unlikely given Goan’s adamant denials, in recorded conversations with Klumb, that she had ever installed the spyware.
“Defendant feigned complete ignorance of eBlaster and acted as if she were furious to be accused of such behavior,” Carter wrote.
The judge also shot down Goan’s claim that Klumb agreed to waive his wiretapping claims for a smaller divorce settlement, saying Goan “failed to meet her burden of proof on this affirmative defense.”
“Defendant’s testimony, in particular, is so contradictory to the forensic and documentary evidence and so inconsistent with her previous statements as to render her testimony at trial completely incredible,” Carter wrote.
He awarded Klumb $10,000 for the wiretapping violations, plus $10,000 in punitive damages based on Goan’s “egregious conduct.”
“All this evidence considered as a whole leads to only one logical conclusion: defendant engaged in a concerted scheme to gain advantage over the plaintiff in a divorce,” Carter ruled.