TRENTON, N.J. – Former Gov. Jim McGreevey didn't plan to torment his wife while they were married, a judge in their divorce case ruled Thursday, while allowing her to continue with a claim of marriage fraud.
The judge dismissed Dina Matos McGreevey's claim of emotional distress against her estranged gay husband.
"Mr. McGreevey was not out to destroy her emotionally," said Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy.
Cassidy, a Union County Superior Court judge, said she would permit the fraud claim to continue for now, but warned, "That does not guarantee the defendant will be successful in trying her claim."
Matos McGreevey claims she was duped into marrying a gay man who sought the cover of a wife to hide his homosexuality and further his political ambitions. He claims he provided companionship and a child, thus fulfilling his part of the marriage contract.
Thursday's pretrial hearing came less than a week after McGreevey, 50, said claims that he and his wife engaged in threesomes with a male aide were true; Matos McGreevey, 41, denied they happened.
Arriving with her attorney Thursday, Matos McGreevey said only "no comment" as she entered the courthouse. McGreevey also attended the hearing and said nothing on his way into or out of the courthouse.
His lawyer, Stephen Haller, said the judge's rulings encouraged his legal team. "Read between the lines," he said of the judge's words of caution in allowing the fraud claim to proceed.
Cassidy told the former first couple that their divorce trial, scheduled to start May 6, would get ugly.
"We all know what happened this week," she said. "What evidence will likely be heard in this case, this week was just the tip of the iceberg."
In interviews with The Star-Ledger of Newark and the New York Post, former McGreevey driver Teddy Pedersen said he had consensual sex with the couple for about two years before McGreevey became governor. He said he had contact only with Dina Matos McGreevey during the trysts and wasn't sure whether McGreevey was gay.
Pedersen, 29, said he came forward to support McGreevey's contention that his wife had to have known he was gay when they married. She says she had no clue.
Cassidy also agreed during Thursday's three-hour court proceeding to allow testimony from a financial expert hired by Matos McGreevey. McGreevey sought to bar CPA Kalman Barson's report, which claims she is entitled to much more money than what the ex-governor says he can afford to pay.
She is seeking $600,000 in compensation for the time she would have spent at the governor's mansion had he not resigned.
That estimate includes keeping with the "Drumthwacket lifestyle," which included use of state police helicopters, a personal assistant, household staff and use of the state's beach house. Drumthwacket is the governor's mansion.
Before McGreevey became governor, he made $52,000 a year as mayor of Woodbridge, and the couple lived in a condominium.
McGreevey left office in 2004 after acknowledging an affair with a male staffer who he said was trying to blackmail him. The ex-staffer denies being gay or having an affair, and said he was sexually harassed by the Democratic governor.
Cassidy also heard arguments on the custody of their 6-year-old daughter but barred the media from that portion of the hearing. The judge this week sealed court records relating to the girl.