LA Times: Jamie McCourt denies affair, says accusations are ‘devastating’

from www.latimes.com – Sportswriter TJ Simers had the following interview with the embattled Jamie McCourt, ex-wife of Dodger owner Frank McCourt:

Sat down with the Screaming Meanie on Tuesday morning, and how about that, even cutting into Jamie McCourt’s negotiated swimming time.

Until now she hasn’t said anything publicly since being fired by her husband as Dodgers CEO, being labeled an adulterer in the process and pounded in court filings.

“I’ve been creamed,” is the way she put it. “But I’ve decided I’m going to take the high road.”

California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, and since she was described as an “at will” hire by Frank McCourt in a letter terminating her services as the team’s CEO, there was no apparent need in either case to detail any alleged wrongdoings.

But the mudslinging list is a long one, and at times, Jamie says, while still a little mystified, it’s bordered on “piling on.”

The McCourts, who would have celebrated 30 years of marriage on Nov. 3, have four sons ranging in age from 19 to 28. And Jamie says they are the ones who have been really hit hard.

“Boys tend to want to defend their mother, but they’re caught between a rock and hard place,” she says. “They don’t want to see anything said about either parent. It’s an unpleasant situation and it would not have been my choice to ever have anything put out there.”

Some of her advisors, who suggest there are things that maybe Frank would not want revealed, have been pushing her to fight back.

“To read everything that’s been said is devastating, and my kids are pretty upset about it,” she says. “I want my kids to look back and say she took the high road. It’s hard, but that’s what I’m going to try and do.”

At the risk of it appearing here as if Jamie speaks the gospel, Frank was offered a chance to respond and specifically to address the toll, as Jamie claims, this is taking on their children.

Frank’s response came in a text message from a Dodgers spokesman: “He will respectfully decline comment.”

In the last few weeks, whether it’s TMZ picturing her with her new love interest, court filings or being ridiculed for saying she was the face of the Dodgers, she’s taken the brunt of fallout from news of their pending divorce.

She’s also a lawyer, described as smart but looking very foolish in admitting she had no idea what she was signing when she gave away her rights to Dodgers ownership.

A subsequent court filing by the estate planner working with the McCourts suggests Frank McCourt may also have had no idea what he was signing, but so far the agreement favors him.

“I met Frank when I was 17, dated him for eight years and was married to him almost 30 years,” she says in explaining why she would sign such a document without apparent question. “I trusted the man.”

Jamie now has no standing with the Dodgers, a court commissioner siding with Frank, who reportedly has gone on a purge, dismissing as many as 15 or 16 employees considered loyal to Jamie.

“I take it very personally,” she says, while holding up a thumb to indicate it’s a higher number than 16 employees.

Do you believe Frank is striking out at you?

“So I’ve been told,” she says.

Do you believe it? “I do,” she says. “It bothers me that people not working for tons of money in most cases were let go when all they cared about was helping the Dodgers to get a [World Series] ring. It really upsets me.”

One of those dismissed was Jeff Fuller, working security for the team, and given the title, Jamie says, of director of protocol by Dodgers Chief Operating Officer Dennis Mannion.

Jamie has been accused of having an affair with Fuller.

“Absolutely not,” she says. “I have never been with another man until the marriage broke up. Ever. Ever.

“I’ve been in this business 30 years, either practicing law or doing something else in a man’s world. If I had known that somebody would say to me, ‘Go do what you want because they’re going to make something up at the end anyway,’ I would have had a lot of fun for 30 years. I never even had a date until I was separated — besides my husband.”

Jamie was not only accused of cheating, but going to Israel and France with Fuller and billing the Dodgers. The trip took place after the McCourts separated.

“I went to the Maccabiah Games, which the Dodgers sponsored and which I paid for on my credit card,” she says.

“It was a trip planned for months and months. The ultimate irony is that we should have gotten reimbursed for business expenses. [Fuller] and someone else were employed as Dodgers security on the trip.”

Court filings use July 6 as the date when Frank and Jamie McCourt split, but she says, “I think the marriage was broken before then.”

Did the relationship with Fuller begin before July 6?

“I’m not ever going to talk about my private life, that’s craziness,” she says. “This is all a sideshow.”

In their own way since they arrived, the McCourts have been a sideshow, but in the long run the only thing that will matter to Dodgers fans is who is making the decisions to field a competitive team.

Despite being portrayed as someone with no ownership claim and not fit for duty, she says she has a plan to buy the team and “absolutely” sees herself as owner of the Dodgers.

“My dream would be to have a coalition of people,” she says, “people who want to be involved investment-wise from every single demographic in L.A. When you have partners and you have equity, you have an opportunity and the wherewithal to have an expanded budget for player compensation.

“And I don’t need to be the controlling interest, I just love baseball that much and want to stay a part of it and lend my expertise any way I can.”

It was her chance to speak, and even challenged at times, she went on to address every question tossed her way.

What about Mannion’s accusations you weren’t fit for your job as CEO?

“I wasn’t surprised so much as I was floored and saddened. I hired him. None of what he said was true. Before February when I was named CEO, I was running the team day to day. I was handling everything from catsup dispenser to whether Joe Torre should be hired.”

Why didn’t one of your lawyers stand up and stop you from saying something as ridiculous as you are the face of the Dodgers in your court filing?

“When you’re trying to get everything submitted, you don’t pay attention necessarily to the perfect language, but I signed it. When I became CEO, Frank used to say, ‘Go be the face of the Dodgers, go be the external brand [in the community].’ ”

Why four homes in the L.A. area?

“I’m with you. Frank is a real estate guy.”

What about the front-page story recently in the Boston Globe that had you saying, “Shut up, Frank” while he was in the midst of making a push to buy the Red Sox?

“Not my style. Frank and I would have intellectual debates in front of people that would make them uncomfortable, but that’s not how I would talk to him.”

Can Frank make it financially as sole owner of the Dodgers?

“I can’t speak for Frank. But I wouldn’t run the Dodgers in the same way. We have a different perspective on what the game stands for, different perspectives on how to manage. I like to think that you try to blend what fans can afford with what the game should be and still have quality players.”

Are we going back to building Little League fields instead of signing free agents?

“I get it, believe me. I know there’s a different budget for both and so did the writer who quoted me. Our first order of business is to win the World Series, but we also have a platform to make an impact in the community.”

Why has it come to the War of the McCourts?

“There’s no place for” airing dirty laundry, she says, while her own parents are about to celebrate a 60th wedding anniversary. “Everyone has problems; this should have been between me and my husband.

“This [the Dodgers] is a specific asset, nobody wants to hear about everything else. They want to hear everything is perfect and the focus is on baseball and that’s the way it should be. Everybody should care about this only from the perspective of the fans.”

You talk about the fans, what consideration is given to them when it comes to ticket prices?

“That was a big fight with me and Frank. I haven’t wanted to raise ticket prices for several years. It was a big debate. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know this isn’t the time to raise ticket prices.”

Did you think about that when you raised the price to park at the stadium?

“That’s a real estate move. I’m a baseball girl. Frank likes the real estate side.”

What about the seemingly outrageous support demands, more than $400,000 a month and fresh flowers? Do you have a lawyer working for you hellbent on making sure you get ridiculed?

“Let’s remember it’s how we lived and not how I lived,” she says, later a lawyer explaining it’s the woman most often placed in the position of documenting what it will take to live rather than the man having to be so specific. “It’s something that had to be done at the time. I can only listen to my lawyers who do this every day for a living.”

She’s on her game, the game now, of course, who believes whom? That’s another column, and probably another 25 down the road.

She wouldn’t talk about the background of the “Dough Boy” and early rumors Fuller’s mother was heir to the Pillsbury Company, claiming she knew nothing about it. I thought they were dating.

“I’m out of practice,” she says, while I reminded her I’m not eligible.

Now the real haggling begins, months and months of it, but as an interesting aside, The Times learned the Dodgers hired a corporate strategist four years ago to evaluate the whole organization, including the relationship between Frank and Jamie.

Jamie had never seen the final findings, proclaiming, “This is a big day for me,” as she read the corporate strategist’s conclusions on the power couple in charge of the Dodgers.

“It was clear that Jamie believed that the success of the relationship is the key to all doors. She believes that the partnership is at risk because Frank ‘doesn’t get it.’

“[Frank] doesn’t value her talents, listens to her only on his terms and shows little respect/acknowledgment for her in public. Jamie says that she can be a bigger asset to them if Frank could get by his need to dominate the public stage and better understand her business value.”

Jamie is almost emotional when she finishes, and obviously overwhelmed. “You made my day,” she says, “I’m not kidding you.”

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