An Anaheim banker who successfully sued his ex-wife for fraud, contending that she lied about being sexually attracted to him, won a follow-up legal battle Monday when a judge awarded him four parcels of land the couple had owned jointly.
Ronald Askew, 50, made nation-wide headlines last month when he successfully claimed that Bonnette Askew deceived him during their 13-year relationship. An Orange County Superior Court jury awarded Ronald Askew $242,000 in damages, which will be paid off with the four parcels awarded him Monday.
The jury concluded that Ronald Askew would not have married Bonnette Askew, or made her joint owner of five parcels of property, if she had told him from the outset that she found him physically undesirable. One piece of land was subsequently lost to foreclosure.
If upheld on appeal, legal experts have said, the jury's verdict has the potential to reshape state divorce law that property must be equally divided upon divorce.
Monday's ruling by Orange County Superior Court Judge Randell L. Wilkinson was not a complete victory, however, as the judge rejected a separate $2,000 damage award against Bonnette Askew ordered by a jury April 7.
Wilkinson also said Bonnette Askew does not have to pay her ex-husband $84,000 of the $242,000 damage award. The amount represents her interest in the fifth piece of property that was lost to foreclosure, her attorney said.
Albert M. Graham Jr., attorney for Ronald Askew, said the four parcels rightly belonged to his client as part of a trust for his children and were not considered community property under state divorce laws.
"We got the property back," Graham said. Ronald Askew did not appear in court Monday.
Bonnette Askew, who wept during the hearing, said outside court that her ex-husband wants to leave her destitute. Bonnette Askew, who testified during the trial that she was not sexually attracted to her husband, said outside court Monday that she nevertheless loved him throughout their 13-year relationship.
"He's out to destroy me," said Bonnette Askew, who said she receives about $3,400 each month in support payments but is still unable to make ends meet. She said she cannot afford to pay for her daughter's eighth-grade graduation event.
The $240,000 in damages represented the fair market value of five properties that Ronald Askew claimed he purchased during the marriage with profits earned before his wedding day.
Attorneys for Ronald Askew requested that instead of ordering Bonnette Askew to pay the damage amount, she be made to turn over her interest in the four properties jointly held in the couple's name.
The Askews also have other properties still tied up in family court litigation.