Sterling Lawsuit Against Mistress Is Funny, Not About Embezzlement

When news broke last Friday of the Donald Sterling audio, we noted that Sterling's mistress/girlfriend, V. Stiviano, was being sued by the Clippers owner's wife, Rochelle. The official statement from the team claimed that Stiviano "is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would 'get even.'" That's a bit of a stretch. You can read the whole lawsuit at the bottom of the page. What it amounts to is little more than a wife lashing out at her husband's gold-digging mistress for having successfully dug up gold.

Rochelle Sterling's lawsuit, filed on March 7, claims Stiviano:

[E]ngages in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat, and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose. Plaintiff is infomred [sic] and believes and tehreon [sic] alleges that One such target was D. Sterling.

(Apparently $2 billion can't buy spellcheck.)

The suit claims Stiviano accepted gifts from Donald Sterling as "part and parcel of their sexual relationship." It goes on to claim the money, property, and real property transferred to Stiviano was done so without Rochelle's knowledge. (Which, duh.)

What's interesting is that the suit alleges Donald Sterling demanded Stiviano return the gifts. If that's true, it would suggest their falling-out (and the subsequent argument captured on audio) came sometime before March 7.

One thing you won't find anywhere in the lawsuit? The word "embezzlement." Or "embezzle," or "embezzled." Embezzlement no longer exists as a separate crime in California—having been absorbed under "theft" law—but in that state it carries a requirement that the victim and accused be engaged in a "relationship of trust."

Remember, it's Rochelle Sterling—not Donald T. Sterling—who brought the lawsuit. (The Clippers' statement characterizes Rochelle Sterling as "the Sterling family," which would make you think Donald Sterling is a plaintiff. He's not.) And that part about "getting even"? It's nowhere in the complaint.

Last week, Stiviano's attorneys responded to the lawsuit with a demurrer. Unique to California and Virginia, a demurrer is a sort of motion to dismiss in which a defendant argues lack of merits for the case. You can view the full demurrer below, but we'll pull out some relevant and hilarious moments from it. We tip our hats to attorney Mac E. Nehoray, who wrote it and who evinces a pleasantly ferocious prose style.

Stiviano's response notes first that everything given by Donald Sterling was a gift; that gifts cannot be revoked by the giver, and that the Sterlings are not currently seeking a legal divorce. Then it gets into the good stuff.

Nowhere is it alleged that defendant "took" possession of any items of real or personal property from either Mr. or Mrs. Sterling. Plaintiff's "husband" is the exquisitely involved "on top of his game" infamous real estate mogul, professional basketball team, the Los Angeles Clippers, owner who, in accord with the verified complaint of Mrs. Sterling, at paragraph 9, page 3 is alleged to have "transferred ... community property ... to or for the benefit of defendant Stiviano .... " further that Mr. Sterling apparently quite voluntarily and without any duress "regularly provided community property funds to defendant Stiviano ... "

It is axiomatic that Mrs. Sterling is not even hinting that her billionaire philandering husband had performed any clandestine acts behind her, as it is alleged that Mr. Sterling was making gifts to V Stiviano since 2010 "for the benefit of defendant Stiviano as part and parcel of their sexual relationship" [not either acknowledged or admitted]

If anything is plead, Mrs. Sterling pleads her absolute knowledge of a long standing history of similar acts of Mr. Sterling who is infamous for his gold plated dalliances. It is absurd to even hint that Mrs. Sterling did not consent to the gifts as alleged.

Nowhere in the complaint is it alleged that Defendant so acted nor that the feminine wiles of Ms. Stiviano overpowered the iron will of Donald T. Sterling who is well known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the world.

At best Plaintiff has provided an estimate of some nondescript benefit over a four year period all relating to irrevocable gifts to Defendant Stiviano by Donald T. Sterling which Mrs. Sterling now takes umbrage. Mrs. Rochelle H. Sterling avoids like the plague, any allegation that the gifts to V Stiviano were actually "intended to be used for the benefit of [Rochelle H. Sterling]" as that would be a fraud and a bald faced lie.

In this purported Cause of Action, unquestionably missing are the What, Where, When, Why and the How as to Mr. Sterling, as the brilliant businessman he is, somehow got "taken" by Ms. Stiviano. Mrs. Sterling alleges that the property was "supposed to" have been purchased in the name of the Sterlings as a married couple. Why Donald T. Sterling didn't drag his wife to the Escrow Office for her signatures, is really not a mystery. Curiously, it is not alleged that the commercial Escrow company made any mistakes, just that the property "somehow" became titled to Ms. Stiviano. Instead of chastising her philandering husband, let alone curtailing his carousing, Mrs. Sterling seeks to punish Defendant who has done nothing wrong.

And that's just the formal response. The memorandum narrative is even more enjoyable.

This is an action brought by a very angry wife whose husband is a highly public figure and who is well known to be "keeping women" other than his wife and who has done so for very many years with a big toothy grin brandishing his sexual prowess in the faces of the Paparazzi and caring less what anyone else thought, the least of which, his own wife.

Donald T. Sterling, curiously not a party in this action, has flaunted that grotesque lifestyle in front of and in his wife's face for nearly their entire marriage of 50 years. The person least fooled and 0 least affected and least "robbed of her due" is Mrs. Rochelle H. Sterling.

At a minimum, she has been complicit for over 50 years and, here, particularly, has "looked the other way" if not put hands over her mouth, covered her eyes and attempted to cover her ears. Further, this not the "first rodeo" as the expression goes. Mr. Sterling has been very publicly involved with numerous women time and time again, whether for a particularly short "contracted" period of time, or a near four (4) relationship as is the alleged case in this matter. It is clear from past conduct, that Mrs. Sterling has at a minimum, either "enabled" Mr. Donald T. Sterling to do, over and over again what he does, or that she approved of the varied and many gifts as described in the complaint. The "relationship" [whatever it may have been or not been] between Mr. Donald T. Sterling and Ms. V Stiviano was open, notorious, obvious and long standing. Ms. Stiviano attended hundreds of events, participated in myriad charity functions sponsored by Mr. Sterling, and was a veritable "fixture" at his business offices over the last four (4) years. Mrs. Sterling was very frequently accompanying Mr. Sterling at events wherein she and V Stiviano were integrally involved in the charitable functions themselves. Ms. Stiviano was neither hidden, closeted, nor a clandestine "affair" at any time. Mrs. Sterling absolutely tacitly if not openly approved of the relationship and the gifts.

Photo credits: AP

Vanessa Stiviano Lawsuit

Stiviano Demurrer

To contact the author of this post, write to tim@deadspin.com or find him on Twitter @bubbaprog.