Full Custody of Girl, 5, Goes to Aissa Wayne


Dr. Thomas A. Gionis, convicted of arranging an attack on his ex-wife, the daughter of actor John Wayne, gave up permanent physical custody of the couple’s daughter during a court hearing Tuesday.

However, Superior Court Judge Myron S. Brown ruled that Gionis could have unmonitored, alternate weekend visits with 5-year-old Anastasia Pilar Wayne while he is free pending appeal of his conviction.

“I’m very happy, I’m elated” with the ruling, said Aissa Wayne, Gionis’ ex-wife. “It’s the end of a horrible battle. . . . It’s a real victory for myself and my daughter.”


But Gionis’ lawyer, Sheila A. Williams, also hailed the visitation section of the ruling as “a major victory” for the 38-year-old physician.

During Gionis’ trial last summer, prosecutors charged that a bitter custody battle over the girl led him to mastermind a violent plot against Aissa Wayne.

Gionis was convicted of arranging the attack on Wayne and her then-boyfriend, developer Roger Luby, at Luby’s Newport Beach compound in 1988. The two men who carried out the attack, along with Gionis’ private investigator, were convicted of their roles in the assault.

At the time of his conviction, Gionis had primary custody of his daughter, who attended school near the doctor’s Pomona residence. After Gionis was sentenced, Wayne petitioned the court for sole custody of her daughter.

After being sentenced to a five-year prison term, Gionis was freed on $2-million bond while he appealed, and he was again permitted monitored visits with Anastasia.

Tuesday, Gionis and Wayne agreed that they would have joint legal custody of their daughter, but that Wayne would have sole physical custody.


In order to avoid the possibility that Gionis would flee with Anastasia in the event his appeal is denied, the judge said he would arrange to be informed of the appeals court’s decision 48 hours before it is announced. Visitation would then be temporarily suspended, regardless of the outcome.