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Model's lawsuit against Chris Rock is unsealed

Monika Zsibrita filed the case in August. The saga began in 1998 and has involved a paternity suit, DNA tests, detective Anthony Pellicano and radio host Howard Stern.

February 27, 2009|Harriet Ryan

It's been more than a decade since Chris Rock and a shapely blond model struck up a conversation over Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. The relationship that followed was brief -- two dinner dates -- but there seems to be no end to the fallout from the liaison.

The second date led back to Rock's hotel room, which led to sex -- he has said he was separated from his wife at the time -- which led to a paternity suit, then tabloid headlines, an allegation of rape, the hiring of private investigator Anthony Pellicano, two DNA tests, a confidential settlement, testimony before a federal jury and, on Thursday, the revelation of a new civil suit.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge unsealed the suit, which was filed against Rock in August, at the request of the plaintiff, Monika Zsibrita, the model from the Four Seasons. Now 36 and a married stay-at-home mother, Zsibrita said she wanted the court papers made public so people, especially those in her native Hungary, would know her version of a story in which she is often portrayed as a gold digger.

"My side has never been out," she said outside the courtroom. "This has basically ruined my life."

The suit accuses the comedian of breach of contract and a host of other charges, and its overarching theme is that the comedian known for his caustic humor is, as Zsibrita called him in a conversation after the hearing, "a monster." She accuses him of first raping her, then siccing a criminal private investigator on her and finally raining potshots on her on Howard Stern's radio show.

Rock's publicist and the attorney representing him in the suit did not return calls seeking comment. But in his testimony at Pellicano's wiretapping trial last year, where he was perhaps the most famous if not the most important witness for the prosecution, Rock portrayed Zsibrita as a shakedown artist.

"Someone who was not pregnant with my child claimed to be pregnant with my child and requested large sums of money for this," he testified. He said he turned to Pellicano because he thought he was being scammed.

After Zsibrita's daughter was born in 1999, two DNA tests determined Rock was not the father. In September 2000, almost two years after their hotel-room encounter, Zsibrita filed a report with the Beverly Hills police accusing Rock of rape. Pellicano obtained a copy of the confidential report and shared its contents with Rock.

"I'm not supposed to have this thing," Pellicano told Rock in a phone conversation he secretly recorded, part of which was played for jurors at his trial last year. No rape charges were filed against Rock.

In court papers, Zsibrita says that she did not initially make a sexual assault complaint with police because she was embarrassed, and that she finally went to authorities at the urging of a rape counselor. Pellicano, who is serving a 15-year sentence, is also named in the suit. The filing refers to portions of the recorded phone call in which Rock says being accused of rape would devastate his career and Pellicano promises to "blacken this girl up to the left and right." According to the suit, Zsibrita's home was repeatedly broken into and photos of her daughter removed.

Zsibrita said that she never asked for money from Rock, but that he gave her several checks totaling less than $18,000. The gold-digger label irritates her, she said, because she comes from a wealthy family: "I am not a poor girl. I don't need to date people for money."

Zsibrita is also suing Beverly Hills and three police supervisors. A spokesman said the department had no comment.

Her attorney, Neville Johnson, said Zsibrita initially filed the suit under seal because she did not want to run afoul of the confidentiality agreement contained in a 2000 settlement of the paternity case. He said that Zsibrita should not be bound by the agreement because Rock had talked about her during a 2004 appearance on Stern's show. According to a summary of the show included in court papers, the comedian said that his sexual liaison with Zsibrita was consensual and that he had been set up by a Nigerian hustler who was actually the father of her child.

A lawyer for Rock argued that the file should remain sealed, but Judge Peter Lichtman said it was "incongruous" to seal the file when details about the relationship between Rock and Zsibrita were available on the Internet.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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