Today Big League Politics reported on Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) co-founder Morris Dees’ allegedly indecent behavior with his step-daughter, to which she testified in divorce court proceedings.
The divorce court appellate brief obtained by BLP contains more colorful stories about Dees and his relationship with his ex-wife Maureene, including that he allegedly stalked, blackmailed and physically abused her in order to coerce her into signing a divorce agreement. The brief was filed by Maury Smith, Julia S. Waters and Charles M. Crook, attorneys for Maureene, in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:
Maureene and Morris, while married, had been on-and-off for a period of about two years from 1977 t0 1979. Morris had “established his permanent relationship with Vicki Booker McGaha in August of 1977,” the court documents said. Maureene began seeing other people, too.
“In November, 1978, Morris finally admitted to Maureen that, notwithstanding the promises that he had made in July to abandon Vicki and reconcile with Maureene, he had continued to see Vicki in Birmingham, that she was then five months pregnant with his child, and that he would be going to Birmingham in a few days to be with her while she had an abortion which Morris was paying for,” the brief says.
Maureene finally left Morris for good in March, 1979. Having openly supported another woman, Maureene allegedly had leverage to obtain a favorable divorce settlement. According to Maureene’s lawyers, he wanted to “find a way to neutralize Maureene.”
According to the brief:
“Maureene and [new lover Brian] O’Daugherty had dinner together on the night of March 4th, and returned to her hotel room,” the brief says. “When they were in bed together, Morris and a Montgomery private detective, both of whom had been hiding in the bathroom, jumped out and started taking photographs, Morris said word in substance as follows:
‘Alright sister, you wanted a divorce. Now I want one, because I’ve got you where I want you.’
Morris was acting crazy, and Maureene thought he was going to kill everybody in sight. He told her that he had five detectives with him. He hit her and gave her a busted jaw. He then started writing something on paper which he then gave her to sign. This document, entered unto evidence as Plaintiff’s Exhibit 43, was a separation agreement.”
Essentially, the court brief alleges that Morris set a trap for Maureen. He allegedly knew her plans to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet O’Daugherty, followed her there, hid in her hotel room, and took compromising photographs for the purpose of using them against her in divorce court, which he later did.
“Apparently in a last effort to induce a settlement with Maureene, Morris later told her that he was sorry he had the photograph taken in the hotel room, that he should not have taken them, and that he wanted her to have them,” the brief says. “He gave them to her with instructions to destroy them, telling her that these were the only copies. He also gave the original signed copy of the hotel room agreement. She tore up both envelopes without looking inside. Morris’ statement that these were the only copies of the photographs was another lie, since he introduced the photographs into evidence at the trial.”
SPLC has still not responded to an email request for comment regarding whether they condone Dees’ behavior. When Big League Politics called for comment, SPLC’s media contact briskly hung up the phone.
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