Ec­cle­stone seeks dis­missal of suit

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By ALEXAN­DRA CLOUGH

E. Ll­wyd Ec­cle­stone Jr. has asked a Palm Beach County court to throw out a law­suit filed against him by his daugh­ter, who al­leges he sex­u­ally mo­lested her when she was a child.

In his mo­tion to dis­miss filed Tues­day, Ec­cle­stone said daugh­ter Wendy Walker Men­del­sohn’s “fake claims are noth­ing more than a shake-down” to co­erce Ec­cle­stone to pay ex­or­bi­tant sums of money to her and her hus­band, Joshua, or else suf­fer dam­age to Ec­cle­stone’s “im­pec­ca­ble rep­u­ta­tion.”

Ec­cle­stone, a prom­i­nent Palm Beach County de­vel­oper and busi­ness leader who lives in Palm Beach, called “vile” the al­le­ga­tions in a law­suit filed by Men­del­sohn on Mon­day that he had in­ap­pro­pri­ately em­braced and kissed her when she was 10 years old. The mo­tion said Ec­cle­stone “ve­he­mently de­nies” the ac­cu­sa­tions.

Men­del­sohn, the youngest daugh­ter of Ec­cle­stone’s four chil­dren, al­leged in the Palm Beach County Cir­cuit Court law­suit that she re­called abuse by her fa­ther as part of her re­cov­ery from abuse by her brother, E. Ll­wyd Ec­cle­stone III.

Through an at­tor­ney, Ec­cle­stone III de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

In the Tues­day le­gal fil­ing, Ec­cle­stone Jr., Men­del­sohn’s fa­ther, says the statute of lim­i­ta­tions has ex­pired re­gard­ing claims of sex­ual abuse.

The fil­ing also sought to raise doubts about Men­del­sohn’s case by not­ing she re­called the al­leged abuse by her brother but not, ini­tially, her fa­ther.

Calling the dis­clo­sure “in­con­sis­tent,” the mo­tion says the abuse rec­ol­lec­tions should have co­in­cided: “Those uni­verses should col­lide, but they do not and can­not.”

In her law­suit, Men­del­sohn said the abuse by her brother started when she was 10 and lasted for about two years.

Dur­ing the course of re­cov­er­ing from her brother’s al­leged abuse, her com­plaint said she re­called abuse by her fa­ther when she was about the same age.

She said she was en­cour­aged by men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als to dis­close the al­leged be­hav­ior to her fa­ther, the law­suit said. But Ec­cle­stone did not re­spond sym­pa­thet­i­cally to Men­del­sohn’s dis­cus­sion of her child­hood rec­ol­lec­tions, her law­suit said.

In­stead, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint, he iso­lated her from the rest of the fam­ily, even­tu­ally telling her to stop talk­ing about the al­leged abuse by her brother, and sign a let­ter of con­fi­den­tial­ity re­gard­ing it, so she and her fam­ily would be al­lowed back into the fam­ily’s good graces.

Men­del­sohn has been mar­ried for 21 years and has three chil­dren.

Four months be­fore fil­ing the law­suit al­leg­ing abuse, Men­del­sohn filed a sep­a­rate law­suit against her sib­lings and non­fam­ily trustees, al­leg­ing as­sets of at least $15 mil­lion promised to her were im­prop­erly put into Ec­cle­stone’s wife’s name.

That trust law­suit has spawned a sep­a­rate, ma­jor le­gal bat­tle that in­cludes non­fam­ily trustee mem­bers such as for­mer Univer­sity of Florida Pres­i­dent Mar­shall Criser and real es­tate de­vel­oper John Tem­ple.

An at­tor­ney for both said Tues­day that the al­le­ga­tions against his clients in the trust case have no merit.

As part of the Tues­day fil­ings, Ec­cle­stone also sought to toss a ref­er­ence by Men­del­sohn that she suc­cess­fully passed poly­graph tests in 2016 and 2017.

Ac­cord­ing to Men­del­sohn’s law­suit, the tests in­di­cate she was truth­ful re­gard­ing al­le­ga­tions of abuse by her fa­ther and brother.

Ec­cle­stone said lie-de­tec­tor tests are in­ad­mis­si­ble as ev­i­dence and should be stricken from the law­suit.

Rod Cole­man, Men­del­sohn’s lawyer, said Thurs­day that the re­but­tal out­lined in Ec­cle­stone’s fil­ing are “without merit.”

Ec­cle­stone has been a driv­ing force in Palm Beach County’s devel­op­ment for 50 years.

He’s known for build­ing such north Palm Beach County com­mu­ni­ties as PGA Na­tional Re­sort & Spa and Ibis Golf and Coun­try Club.

Ec­cle­stone serves on the board of the Palm Beach Po­lice Foun­da­tion and on the town of Palm Beach Shore Pro­tec­tion Board.


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