TRENTON - Dina Matos McGreevey - the estranged wife of the nation's first openly gay governor - claimed in a court filing yesterday that she was a victim of extreme cruelty throughout her marriage, and demanded divorce and monetary damages from her estranged husband for what she said was fraud, emotional distress and libel.
Yesterday was the deadline for her to respond to James E. McGreevey's divorce filing, in which the former governor claimed his wife "knew of my sexual orientation before our marriage" and "chose to either ignore it or block it out of her mind, even when questioned by her friends."
"Plaintiff has been guilty of extreme cruelty toward defendant, commencing from the date of their marriage and continuing from that day until the present," Matos McGreevey's attorneys said in the filing in state Superior Court in Union County.
Matos McGreevey's lawyers said learning that her husband was gay and was cheating on her "had an immeasurable lasting impact" on her. He resigned as governor of New Jersey in 2004, after acknowledging that he was "a gay American" and saying he had had an affair with a male aide.
"Defendant was shocked and traumatized beyond description and she felt betrayed and abandoned by plaintiff," the filing said.
Besides suing over fraud and intentional emotional distress, Matos McGreevey also claimed libel, arguing that her husband and his representatives last month made public claims that she was homophobic and had made anti-gay statements, charges she says her husband knew weren't true.
The disputes inside the marriage have gone public in recent weeks amid the divorce case and Matos McGreevey's publicizing of her new book, "Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage."
"I don't think he's still acknowledged the damage that he's done to me and to my family, and that's very difficult to accept," Matos McGreevey said during a "Good Morning America" appearance last week.
Matos McGreevey told "Oprah" viewers that she was smiling while her husband made his 2004 announcement because "I didn't want to break down."
Neither McGreevey nor his lawyer commented to reporters about the filing.
Meanwhile, McGreevey has been planning to join in a civil union with Mark O'Donnell, an Australian money manager with whom he resides. The vicar at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan said last week that McGreevey has become an Episcopalian and was considering becoming a priest in that faith. *