Saturday, January 22, 2022

District Attorney being sued for ‘alienation of affection,’ stealing man’s wife

District Attorney Jon David addresses the press while announcing the arrest of Southport Police Department’s top brass in 2018. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna F. Still)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The District Attorney for Brunswick, Bladen, and Columbus counties is being sued for “alienation of affection” and “criminal conversation,” sparsely used claims individuals can put forth against their spouse’s lover.

First reported in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly last month, Jon David (twin brother of New Hanover and Pender County DA Ben David) is named as a defendant in a civil suit filed by Tracey Trivette in December 2020, which also alleges the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

North Carolina is one of six states that permits claims of alienation of affection. In July 2018, a N.C. judge ordered a man pay $8.8 million to another man for seducing his wife and wrecking his marriage.

The claims

Trivette’s estranged wife, Ashley Trivette, is a former Republican Bladen County Commissioner. Tracey Trivette alleges David and his wife began a romantic relationship after she was arrested for driving while impaired in October 2017. She was also charged and indicted for misdemeanor child abuse, according to BladenOnline, but that charge was later dismissed. The Trivettes were in the process of adopting a 5-year-old, who was in the car with Ashley at the time of her arrest, according to Columbus County News.

David ultimately recused himself from Trivette’s prosecution; she submitted an Alford plea for the DWI in August 2018, not admitting guilt but acknowledging there was enough evidence present to convince a judge or jury.

According to reporting this week in the Brunswick Beacon, the suit claims David “began willfully and deliberately seducing, enticing, and alienating the affections of Plaintiff’s wife from the Plaintiff, destroying the love and affection which previously existed,” with the knowledge Trivette was married.

Tracey Trivette is asking for more than $25,000 in compensatory damages for each of his three claims and the same amount for punitive damages for each charge, a $150,000 minimum in total, according to the Bladen Journal.

According to Lawyers Weekly, the suit alleges David sent “numerous enticing texts, calls, and communications” to Trivette. These communications led to their sexual relationship, which caused her marital separation in January 2018, the suit alleges.

David’s public exposure of the relationship, including attending events, trips, and appearing on social media together, caused Tracey Trivette “emotional trauma and embarrassment,” the suit claims.

McCrae Dowless — the man at the center of the Bladen County election fraud scandal, indicted on multiple illegal ballot handling and obstructing justice charges — previously worked for Trivette in 2016.

David’s office made multiple inquiries — some unreturned — to the State Board of Elections about the election fraud investigation, WBTV reported. When he ultimately recused himself in Jan. 2018, David cited Dowless as a consultant of his 2010 opponent as his reason for recusal. In a statement to WBTV, David said the suggestion he allowed a personal relationship to impact his handling of the election fraud case was deeply offensive and wrong.

After the Trivette’s separation, the suit claims David and Ashely continued the relationship, eventually living together, according to the Bladen Journal.

Trivette filed for divorce from her husband on Dec. 31, 2020, in New Hanover County. David filed a motion requesting a stay in his civil suit in an effort to pause the proceedings until the divorce case was finalized, arguing the outcome could impact the civil case.

Superior Court Judge Kent Harrell issued an order on Mar. 5 honoring David’s stay request, the Beacon reported. Both parties consented to the stay and are attempting to resolve the conflict out of court.

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