Conflicting portraits of NBA ex-owner Donald Sterling emerge as trial ends

Fri Mar 27, 2015 8:08pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The woman behind the downfall of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling painted conflicting portraits of him in court on Friday, calling him a kind, generous mentor and father figure to her but a mean-spirited "con artist" and bigot toward others.

V. Stiviano, 32, also testified that the 80-year-old billionaire real estate mogul spent far more time with her and her relatives during her 2-1/2 years as his personal assistant, driver and confidante than he did with his own wife and children.

"We were so interconnected on a level that was more spiritual. He became my everything and I became his all," she said, though she denied again under oath that the relationship was ever sexual.

Stiviano took the witness stand for a second day in Los Angeles Superior Court during the trial of a lawsuit brought by Sterling's wife seeking return of community marital assets she claims her husband gave Stiviano without her consent.

The non-jury trial concluded on Friday, and the judge was expected to render a verdict in the coming days.

Shelly Sterling's lawyers asked the judge to grant her title to a $1.8 million house her husband had bought for Stiviano, plus more than $1 million in cash they said he lavished on Stiviano for living expenses, credit-card purchases and three luxury cars.

Stiviano has not disputed Donald Sterling's generosity, though she quibbled over the sums and denied manipulating him. She repeatedly testified that Sterling instead tried to manipulate her.

The apparent contradictions finally led plaintiff's attorney Pierce O'Donnell to confront Stiviano with the question: "Who is the real Donald Sterling?"   Continued...

Companion of ex-NBA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano (2nd R), walks out of the courthouse in Los Angeles, California March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson