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Hudson Hid AIDS to Continue Sex, Companion's Lawyer Says

January 07, 1989|KENNETH J. GARCIA | Times Staff Writer

Although he knew he was dying of AIDS, actor Rock Hudson purposely concealed his illness from his former lover so they could continue to have sex, the attorney for Hudson's former companion told a Superior Court jury Friday.

After the actor was diagnosed as having AIDS in June, 1984, "Rock Hudson told Marc Christian that he was fine," attorney Harold Rhoden told jurors. "When Hudson lost weight and appeared very sickly, he told Marc Christian that he was dieting, that he wanted to 'look like I did when I made "Pillow Talk" with Doris Day.' "

Only shortly before his death the following year did Hudson tell his employers to give assistance to Christian, Rhoden said during opening arguments in the trial over Christian's $14-million lawsuit against Hudson's estate.

"Take care of the kid," Rhoden claimed Hudson told a subordinate. "I may have killed him."

Christian claims that he suffered extreme emotional distress after learning of Hudson's illness during a July, 1985, television newscast and that Hudson and others conspired to keep Christian unaware that he had been repeatedly exposed to acquired immune deficiency syndrome through their continued sexual contact. Rhoden told jurors that the two men had anal intercourse about three to five times a week.

But the attorney for Hudson's estate said Christian, 35, did not immediately seek medical help after finding out that the late actor had AIDS. Christian so far has tested negative for the AIDS virus.

"The evidence will show that he didn't go to see a doctor or do anything that would indicate a great fear of getting AIDS," attorney Robert Parker Mills said. Instead, the lawyer argued, Christian went to see a nutritionist seeking "a program that would improve his weightlifting."

Portrayed as Promiscuous

Christian, who fidgeted nervously in his chair, was portrayed by Mills as a promiscuous former bartender who had "high-risk" sex with as many as 15 other men before he met Hudson. Although Mills admitted that the two men shared a relationship, he said the only reason Christian sued Hudson's estate was that he was left out of the late actor's will.

"If there was such a close relationship, why isn't Mr. Christian in the will?" Mills said. "And if he doesn't have AIDS, why is he suing? The only thing that this is about is a purported fear about getting some disease which he doesn't have."

In a countersuit filed against Christian, estate attorneys claim that Christian was a prostitute who blackmailed the former leading man by threatening to expose Hudson's homosexuality by publishing love letters the late actor penned and sent to Christian while filming a movie in Israel.

But Rhoden said that Christian never made any threats and that Hudson's secretary, Mark Miller, offered to pay hush money to other estate employees to get them to keep quiet about the late actor's disease. Rhoden said that even when Christian continued to ask Hudson if he had AIDS, Hudson repeatedly denied it.

According to Rhoden, Miller told Christian that Hudson was going to a Swiss clinic in 1985 to be treated for anorexia, a severe eating disorder. But, in fact, Hudson went to Paris to be treated for AIDS, Rhoden said. Even after Hudson collapsed in Paris, Rhoden said Miller called Christian and told him that Hudson was suffering from inoperable liver cancer. The following day, it was announced that Hudson had AIDS.

"The lies just kept going on," Rhoden said. "Miller told Marc Christian 'that if you sue us, we'll say that you had sex for money. And if that doesn't work, we'll say that you were on drugs.'

"What this case is about is the duty to warn. Christian believed that at any moment he would be suffering the same symptoms as Rock Hudson and that the diagnosis would mean a sentence of death. Both Mark Miller and Rock Hudson had to know that Marc Christian would find out that he'd been lied to. But Rock Hudson wanted to continue to enjoy sexual relations, and they conspired to put the young man at risk."

The trial will continue Monday and is expected to last two months.

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