John Wayne’s daughter, Aissa, who was brutally beaten along with her millionaire boyfriend in a mysterious attack this week, alleged that her estranged husband, Thomas A. Gionis, threatened to kill her if she ever left him, according to statements she filed in the couple’s divorce and child custody case.
Gionis was also physically violent during their 16-month marriage, Wayne alleged in a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court as part of her petition for divorce and custody of their 1-year-old daughter, Anastasia.
Despite Gionis’ contention earlier this week that the divorce and custody fight over their daughter has been “friendly,” the massive foot-thick court file, which is filled with allegations of family strife, paints a far different picture.
In fact, Gionis’ own attorney alleged in a court document that Wayne scrawled “Declaration of War!” in red ink on divorce papers that had been served on her.
Gionis, 34, an orthopedic surgeon from Pomona, denied the allegations of abuse in court documents and accused Wayne of concocting the charges.
Wayne was awarded custody of the child after their June 4, 1987, separation. The couple, legally separated last year, are still going through divorce and custody proceedings.
Gionis, who on Tuesday said he and Wayne got along so well that “we have coffee and doughnuts,” declined any further comment Wednesday. But his lawyer, Mitch Ludwig, called Wayne’s charges “a lot of nonsense, propaganda and totally unfounded.”
Wayne could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Newport Beach police investigating the attack Monday on Wayne, 32, of Corona del Mar and her boyfriend, mortgage financier Roger W. Luby, 52, said Wednesday that they were looking into Wayne’s marital affairs as part of their investigation.
But police spokesman Bob Oakley said detectives are concentrating on Luby’s financial affairs, because he was singled out by name in the attack.
Wayne and Luby were bound hand and foot and pistol-whipped after returning from a morning jog to Luby’s $3-million gated estate. The two gunmen--still at large Wednesday--asked for Luby by name, and then tried to sever one of his tendons, police said.
Wayne said afterward that the men threatened: “You’re messing with the wrong guy. Next time we’ll kill you.”
Both Wayne and Luby were treated at a hospital and released.
Oakley said Luby’s involvement in multimillion-dollar litigation over the bankruptcy of a downtown Los Angeles rehabilitation project “leaves more avenues open to a motive.” Luby’s renovation of the historic Broadway building at 4th Street and Broadway went bankrupt last year, he has said, because a group of Oklahoma investors withdrew financing. Luby subsequently filed suit against the investors, and the case is set for trial in December in an Oklahoma federal court.
Gionis’ attorney, Ludwig, cautioned anyone against inferring that his client had anything to do with the attack, noting that since the original filing for divorce, there have been no more allegations of abuse.
Ludwig said that Wayne and Gionis now enjoy a “fairly amicable visitation agreement” and added that Gionis had the couple’s daughter at the time of the attack.
Oakley too said that abuse allegations “are fairly common in divorce stuff.” But, he added, “we’re not discounting anything at this point.”