Commentary

Saunders: 'Affair' website says it didn't make wife leave husband

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJanuary 5, 2014 

Maybe she was looking for that cupcake lady.

No, that’s Dolly Madison, you ninny.

The Charlotte woman who had an affair and left her husband for another dude wasn’t looking for any baked goods when she clicked onto the Ashley Madison website.

Her husband, however, is looking for some dough.

A Charlotte Observer story recently told the sorrowful ballad of Robert Schindler, who is suing not only the man who took his lawfully wedded main squeeze, but also AshleyMadison.com, the website that facilitated the tryst that led her to take her buns elsewhere.

OK, that’s the last bakery reference. I promise.

In the lawsuit filed in Mecklenburg County, Schindler is seeking $10,000 from Eleazar “Chay” Montemayor and the Ashley Madison website because, he said, they conspired to alienate and destroy the love and affection his wife and he shared. The website is designed to hook up people looking for hookups and, sometimes, more.

Watch that Internet

Montemayor and Schindler’s ex-not-so Sweet Thang met in 2007 and got married last year. One only hopes Montemayor realizes that he can never relax, because just as he found the former Mrs. Schindler online – when both she and he were married to others – someone else could find her if she tires of him. Here’s a tip, Chay: keep her away from the Internet.

I talked with attorney James Walker of Greensboro when he was representing Dorothy Hutelmeyer in a 1997 lawsuit against the woman she accused of stealing her husband, Joseph Hutelmeyer, from her.

She sued for $1 million and won, although Walker told me recently that Hutelmeyer didn’t get a million – at least not from the other woman.

“There was a movie made and she got some money from that,” Walker said. “Her husband was overly generous, paying more than was required. ... He continued making child support payments even after the children ‘aged out,’ but I can’t say the other woman actually wrote any checks to her.”

Changes in the law

Walker, who said he has handled about 40 such cases throughout his career, said most of those lawsuits were settled before going to trial. He also said changes were made in the law after the Hutelmeyer case. “You can’t (any longer) consider acts that occurred after a separation,” he said, “and you cannot name a third-party such as a corporation” or workplace if the affair occurs there. “That was kind of up in the air until the legislature changed it.”

Even with those changes, North Carolina is one of fewer than a dozen states that allow lawsuits for alienation of affection or criminal conversation. (Hint: It has nothing to do with talking.)

Walker said he handled another one recently in Orange County, but citing a confidentiality agreement, declined to discuss it. He did say, though, that Joseph Hutelmeyer’s new wife and ex-wife are friends, as are the old and the new sets of Hutelmeyer children.

It’s unlikely, given the proceedings thus far, that Robert Schindler and Eleazar Montemayor are going to someday sit back, break bread and laugh together over this lawsuit, though. But who, exactly, is to blame for Schindler’s wife breaking her vows and his heart?

Not ours, said Paul Keable, a spokesman for the Ashley Madison site.

“He’s pointing the finger in the wrong direction,” Keable said. “Life is full of bad news. You go to the mailbox and get bad news on a regular basis. I’m fairly sure you don’t blame the postman for delivering that news.”

No, but you blame him if the postman is a letter-delivering Lothario who leaves you the bills but runs off with your Honey.

Besides, Keable said, “Who’s to say this is a bad thing? It’s obvious that this woman and the other man weren’t happy long prior to getting on our website, and the fact that they ended up getting married shows that A, they created something good out of something negative, and B, they clearly made the decisions that were in their own best interests and had nothing to do with us.”

Keable, not surprisingly, said “monogamy is a failed concept.” He scoffed when I asked him whether the site – whose motto is “Life is short: have an affair” – encourages married people to seek some outside loving.

“No matter how great our advertising,” he said, “I cannot convince anyone in a happy marriage to go have an affair. That decision is made long before anyone ever types a keystroke to log onto AshleyMadison.com. (Note the plug? Boy, he’s good.) All we do is offer a space for likeminded people to connect.

“The reality is, an undiscovered affair can have a great, positive impact on a marriage,” he said. “We hear from members all the time” who tell him “They do love their spouse, they do love their family situation, but they’re missing one piece.”

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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