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Gracie Mansion Closed to Giuliani's Girlfriend

Law: Court sides with mayor's estranged wife, who lives at residence with their children.

May 22, 2001|JOSH GETLIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — In a tactical defeat for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a judge ruled Monday that he may not bring his girlfriend to visit the official mayoral residence while his estranged wife and their children continue to live there. The court also refused to issue a gag order in the first couple's increasingly nasty--and public--divorce case.

Donna Hanover, Giuliani's wife, had sought a temporary restraining order against Judith Nathan--saying that her visits to Gracie Mansion would be disruptive. The mayor disagreed, arguing that portions of the city-owned residence are public places where he could bring Nathan.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische recognized that the mayor's two children eventually would meet Nathan--especially if he remains close to his new friend. But Gische said there is "no public or governmental interest" in bringing Nathan to Gracie Mansion.

The judge ruled that the "interests of the children" take precedence, noting that they should be able to walk through their home without wondering whether they are in public or private spaces. She further ruled that, for now, Nathan could not be present at any event the children expect to attend.

And in a warning to both sides, Gische said she would appoint a mental health professional to assess the first family's situation if the family fails to come up with a solution to the conflict within 30 days.

A spokeswoman for Hanover said the first lady was "gratified" by Gische's ruling. Giuliani, whose final term as mayor ends in January, declined comment. But his attorney, Raoul Felder, said the mayor was pleased that Gische had paved the way for him "to introduce his children to a person who shares and will share a great part of his life."

In a separate decision, Gische refused to issue a gag order in the divorce case, saying that these directives typically must be agreed to by both parties. Although Hanover has opposed such an order, the mayor said a gag order was necessary to tone down shrill media coverage. In recent weeks, however, his attorney has made harsh comments about Hanover that sparked criticism of Giuliani. Felder has said, for example, that Hanover was "howling like a stuck pig" in seeking to bar Nathan from visiting Gracie Mansion. He called her "an uncaring mother."

Giuliani, who frequently admonishes reporters not to invade his personal life, also approved Felder's release of information indicating that the mayor--who is battling prostate cancer--has become impotent. Since then, the mayor has asked Felder to refrain from negative comments about Hanover.

As the insults fly, the story has gone national: This week's People magazine features Giuliani, Hanover and Nathan on its cover. Asked to comment, the mayor said he and Nathan have an "adult" relationship that has "gone on for two years, and I hope it's going to go on forever."

Giuliani announced last year that he and Hanover, an actress and television personality, would be divorcing. He acknowledged that Nathan, a medical supplies sales executive, was a "very good friend." The mayor has declined comment on whether he is prepared to wed Nathan after his divorce becomes final.

Hanover, who learned that her husband wanted a divorce by watching his televised remarks, fired back that he had wrecked their marriage earlier by having an affair with his former press secretary, Christyne Lategano. Both Giuliani and Lategano denied the charge.

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