Courtship, River Oaks Style

High-powered attorney Earle Lilly was Linda Sarofim Lowe's divorce lawyer, then her lover. Now he's left her, and she wants her $6 million in attorney fees and her Mercedes back.

Lilly's attorneys at the deposition were somewhat less than sympathetic to her earlier pleas.

"What marble wall were you threatening to put your head through?" Barker asked.

"I don't know."
"Did you have a marble wall in your house?"
"Where did you have marble walls where there was a phone?"
"Several rooms."

A male voice, that of her adult son, Sean, breaks the pattern of calls to Lilly. "I will make this message as sweet and short as possible, you son of a bitch. We got it all fucking working perfectly, then you had to come over and spoil fucking everything and ruin our goddamned hopes. I want you to get your ass over there, apologize to her, because if not, I'm coming right home and I am going to beat the shit out of you."

And a child's voice: "Earle, it is 6:45 and my mom wants you to come over. Thanks. Bye."

"Earle," Lowe tells him at one point, "I love you and I need you as support to keep me sober. Please be there. I just love you."

After berating him for having an apartment "that reminds me of a slum in Brooklyn, she adds, " ... All you had to do was just stroke me on the back a few times and I would purr like a kitten and [have] done anything you did...."

Those expressions were rare in the deposition tapes, although the selection of messages played at the deposition was left up to Lilly.

Lowe left one message telling him she had sex with a young handyman who is "much more romantic than you are." In the deposition, she denies having sex with that person, or having an affair with another man referred to in a later tape.

"I forgot to tell you that John is bisexual, not just homosexual, and that he was with a woman over the weekend, and we tried but we just couldn't do it because we have been friends for too many years and it was impossible to do."

Her cook comes in for considerable abuse, with Lowe complaining to Lilly that the servant and staff eat steaks "and everything else at lunchtime and at breakfast time. Then at dinnertime, if I am in bed, then I get dog food. And then Manuela [the cook] went over there crying because I refused to eat dog food."

In several calls, she demands the return of all her gifts, including the Mercedes, warning Lilly she will report it as stolen. She also says she will send emergency ambulances, fire trucks and police to his house if he continued to refuse to call her.

Her messages call him "scum like any Jew" and describe him as sexually inadequate. "Are you so fucking old that you go to bed at this time of night," another message begins. "I mean just like Fayez. I mean, I already know you're impotent and balding and Jewish and fat, and everything else...."

Lowe said in the deposition that she only referred to Lilly as impotent in the sense that he had lost the power he had over her.

Lilly is told in one call to sue Sarofim "for cancer things for me ... before we even go to court before this goddamn divorce." She explains that she heard that abortions increase breast cancer odds by 20 percent, so she has had to have mammograms every six months. "And so when they told me I have big breasts, that is just amazing to me. Since I have grown in the past year from a 32A to a 36B, obviously, something is wrong."

Something was very wrong -- her admitted addiction. In her deposition, Lowe both took responsibility and gave Lilly ample blame. He was the one, she said, who decided to call in two doctors for a $10,000-a-month treatment program that included ample prescriptions. He did it even while knowing that it could be used as evidence against her in her efforts to gain primary custody of the children, her suit said.

Lilly attorney Barker challenged Lowe's claims against Piro and Lilly. "Nobody ever held you down and poured alcohol down your throat, did they?"

"Mr. Lilly would bring alcohol over to the house and stated that he did not believe I was an alcoholic and that -- he opened many bottles and shared many drinks with me," she said.

"It was your choice to do it, was it not?" Barker said. "Ma'am?"
"I think when a person is out of control and was dependent upon them, that they should not have been bringing alcohol over in sight. It's fuel for the fire."

Barker attacked her position, asking how Lilly could have enticed her to drink when she was drunk and making abusive calls to his home. And what about the time he took her to Alcoholics Anonymous? Or locked up the liquor cabinet? She insisted she did not take prescription drugs before the emotional distress with Lilly occurred.

On February 19, 1997, she was involuntarily committed to St. Joseph's Hospital to begin her recovery from alcohol abuse.

Some of Lilly's hardest critics among attorneys do not endorse Lowe's attacks on him with regard to her addiction and the treatment program arranged by him with private doctors long before the commitment. They said that the substance abuse would have emerged in any trial, and that the best way to mitigate that damaging evidence would be to try to convince a judge or jury that Lowe had started on the road to recovery.

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