Man Gets Ex-Wife's Share of Land

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Anaheim banker who successfully sued his ex-wife for fraud, contending that she lied about being sexually attracted to him, was awarded four parcels of land Monday that the couple had owned jointly.

Ronald Askew, 50, made nationwide 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.

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.

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. One piece of land was lost to foreclosure.

If upheld on appeal, legal experts have said, the jury's verdict could reshape state 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 because 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 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. She had testified during the trial that she was not sexually attracted to her husband but said Monday that she nevertheless loved him throughout their 13-year relationship.

"He's out to destroy me," she said, adding that she receives about $3,400 per month in support payments but is unable to make ends meet. She said she cannot afford to pay for her daughter's eighth-grade graduation.

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 their wedding.

The Askews also have other properties still tied up in family court litigation.

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