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Former Times opinion chief sues ex-lover

Andres Martinez alleges that the PR executive tarnished his reputation, cost him his job at the paper.

August 22, 2008|Victoria Kim and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

A former Los Angeles Times editorial page editor sued his ex-girlfriend Thursday, alleging that the public relations executive had cost him his job at the newspaper and tarnished his professional reputation.

Andres Martinez resigned from The Times last year after revelations that his then-girlfriend was doing public relations work for Hollywood producer Brian Grazer at the same time that Martinez had tapped Grazer to be a "guest editor" for the paper's opinion section.

An attorney for Kelly Mullens, who was romantically involved with Martinez for about two years, called the lawsuit "meritless and clearly frivolous." She said it was filed in retaliation for a temporary restraining order Mullens obtained in April after Martinez stalked her and sent her threatening e-mails and text messages.

"This is part of a pattern of harassment by Mr. Martinez against Ms. Mullens which has gone on for a long time," said Blair Berk, Mullens' attorney.

Attorney Shan Wu, who represented Martinez in the restraining order, said the matter was resolved when Mullens and Martinez reached an "amicable settlement."

In his lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Martinez alleges that Mullens jeopardized his career when she became involved in the promotion of The Times' project with Grazer, despite promises to Martinez that she would not.

Then-Publisher David Hiller scrapped the special section involving Grazer out of concern that readers would think Martinez's relationship with Mullens gave Grazer an unfair advantage in being selected to serve as the first in a series of prominent guest editors.

At the time, Martinez denied that his relationship with Mullens had anything to do with his selection of Grazer and called Hiller's decision an overreaction and promptly resigned.

In an e-mail to The Times on Thursday from Washington, D.C., Martinez said Mullens "abused our personal relationship by seeking to profit from my editorial decisions behind my back, contrary to our understanding that she would avoid such a conflict of interest.

"Her lack of professional ethics forced the Los Angeles Times to cancel the guest- editor program and forced my resignation from the newspaper."

Martinez's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Mullens obtained a 14-day restraining order in a Washington, D.C., court against Martinez in April in which he was ordered to stay away from her and her mother.

The court order also prevented Martinez from sending e-mails to Mullens, her colleagues, the media and her clients.

Their relationship began in September 2005 and lasted until about July 2007, according to an affidavit for the restraining order. There was a brief reconciliation until the relationship ended in December 2007, the affidavit states.

Once the relationship ended, Martinez "sent constant harassing, intimidating, obsessive, crude and vulgar" e-mails and text messages from his cellphone and personal and work e-mail accounts in Washington, D.C., to Mullens in California, the affidavit states.

The communications escalated to a point where Mullens feared that Martinez "was planning his own suicide, a suicide-murder involving her and/or his own [ex-]wife and/or son or some other violent event," according to the affidavit.

Neither Martinez nor Wu would respond to Mullens' allegations.

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victoria.kim@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein @latimes.com

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