McGreevey divorce testimony starts today

May 6, 2008 4:25:47 AM PDT
After two tell-all books, tawdry sex claims and 3½ years of living apart, New Jersey's gay former governor and his estranged wife are finally facing off in divorce court.

The first three days of the trial set to begin Tuesday, however, will be conducted away from the glare of television cameras and reporters under order of the presiding judge.

Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy decided to hear custody issues relating to the couple's 6-year-old daughter first, and she sealed documents and testimony regarding the kindergartner.

Jim and Dina Matos McGreevey, who have been married for four years, have been going at each other publicly for months in a series of pretrial motions involving everything from his partner's financial assets (she was granted a peek) to their daughter's birthday party (he got to have a pony party on a weekend he wasn't scheduled for visitation).

Besides custody, the issues in the divorce settlement involve alimony and child support, and whether McGreevey, now openly gay, committed fraud by marrying a woman.

Matos McGreevey, 41, seeks $600,000 as compensation for the time she would have lived at the governor's mansion in Princeton had her husband not resigned in disgrace. McGreevey stepped down in his first term during a nationally televised speech in which he acknowledged being "a gay American" and having an affair with a male staffer while married to Matos McGreevey.

Since his resignation in the fall of 2004, both he and his soon-to-be-ex wrote books about their time together, including their sex lives. She claims she never knew he was gay until just before he told the rest of the world. He claims their marriage was "a contrivance on both our parts," but that he fulfilled the marriage contract by providing companionship and a child.

The most sensational witness could be Teddy Pedersen, a 29-year-old former aide who claims he had regular three-way sexual encounters with the McGreeveys beginning when they were dating in 1999 and ending two years later, after they were married and McGreevey had been elected governor.

John Post, a lawyer representing Matos McGreevey, is seeking to bar Pedersen's testimony. Matos McGreevey claims the encounters never happened. McGreevey says they did.

McGreevey, 50, who now lives with a male partner and is studying to be an Episcopal priest, wants joint physical and legal custody of their daughter. He currently has the child one night a week and every other weekend.

Child support payments will depend on custody arrangements, lawyers have said.