LOS ANGELES (AP) — An attorney representing the woman Donald Sterling was talking to when he made racist remarks said Thursday that the hour-long conversation was taped by mutual agreement last September and provided to a friend for safekeeping, who then leaked it to TMZ.
V. Stiviano sent two snippets of the conversation, recorded in her Los Angeles duplex, to a friend who released them without her permission, lawyer Siamak Nehoray said. He would not identify the friend.
Nehoray said she sent snippets of the conversation recorded on her phone electronically to her friend for safekeeping in case anything happened, but only two went through, Nehoray said.
He wouldn’t elaborate on what prompted her to send the recordings.
Nehoray said Stiviano, 31, only learned they would become public after TMZ contacted her. She was devastated, he said.
“She’s a young girl thrown in the middle of this thing, unwillingly,” Nehoray said. “She didn’t release the tape. She gave it to somebody for safe keeping. It was unfortunate that it was released. It’s a lot to deal with.”
In the recording, the Los Angeles Clippers owner expresses his unhappiness with Stiviano for posting online photos of herself with black people, including basketball great Magic Johnson.
Attorney Robert Platt, who is general counsel for the Clippers, said he has no comment.
In March, Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, sued Stiviano, seeking the return of more than $2.5 million in gifts Stiviano allegedly received from her husband, including luxury cars and a $1.8 million duplex. Stiviano’s name is on the duplex’s title, Nehoray said.
“We’re saying when you give a gift, don’t ask for it back. The law is clear you don’t have to,” Nehoray said. The lawsuit was a “cut and paste” of a “prior lawsuit against a previous girlfriend,” he said.
Nehoray said a third person was present during the conversation, but she wants to remain anonymous. Nehoray said the conversation took place in September 2013 after Sterling and Stiviano spent the day together; they’d stopped at her place for Sterling to rest.
“It was by mutual agreement that it was going to be recorded,” he said. “There was nothing going on back then. There was no lawsuit. There was no rift. In October he threw a birthday party for her even.”
California law requires both parties to agree to recording a conversation that one would reasonably expect to be private.
Stiviano worked as Sterling’s archivist, and Nehoray said she had been mischaracterized in the media. Sterling and Stiviano were friends, but the two never had an intimate relationship, Nehoray said.
Nehoray said Stiviano is “hanging in there” and that she was “very saddened” by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to ban Sterling for life from any association with the league or his team, and to fine him $2.5 million.
“They’ve never been on bad terms,” Nehoray said. “I don’t know if they’re in touch. She considers him a friend. I’m sure he feels the same way.”
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