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Judge refuses to unseal ex-Playboy model's suit against Trump fundraiser

Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- A state judge rejected a request Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times and seven other news organizations that he unseal a lawsuit a former Playboy model filed against one of President Donald Trump's top fundraisers.

Shera Bechard, who was Playmate of the Month in November 2010, sued Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy of Beverly Hills on Friday and persuaded a judge to keep the complaint under seal for 20 days.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for the news organizations urged a second judge to make the suit public. "There is no basis for continuing to keep this sealed," Kelli Sager told Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige at a morning hearing in state Superior Court in Los Angeles.

But Hiroshige agreed with attorneys for both Bechard and Broidy that Judge Ruth Kwan was correct to block public disclosure of the lawsuit.

"To seal it for 20 days, in my opinion, was a thoughtful and fair assessment of the situation that she was confronted with," Hiroshige said.

Broidy, 60, who is married, has acknowledged having a consensual sexual relationship with Bechard, saying he agreed to make payments to her after she told him she'd become pregnant and had an abortion.

Broidy hired Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, last year to negotiate a nondisclosure agreement with Bechard.

The deal required Broidy to pay Bechard $1.6 million in eight installments, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But after giving her the first $400,000, Broidy declined to continue making payments because Bechard's lawyer, Keith Davidson, broke the agreement by discussing it with another attorney, Michael Avenatti, a Broidy lawyer told the Journal.

When the Journal disclosed the pact in April, Broidy stepped down as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.


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