"One-Man Mob"

Even by the standards of divorce court, John Shike was behaving badly. On that Monday morning in late April, as the judge prepared to sign an order granting Saba Hameed Shike the divorce she'd sought for three and a half years, her soon-to-be ex spewed objections. The tall, heavyset man paced back and forth in front of the judge's bench, muttering to himself, his hands jammed in his pants pockets. He claimed -- as he'd claimed before -- that he'd never been married to Saba, and thus couldn't be divorced from her. After the judge signed the decree, as the parties left the courtroom, Shike turned to his wife's attorney and said he'd fight him "all the way to hell." In the hallway, Shike continued his tirade, calling the lawyer "a smiling son of a bitch." The lawyer continued to smile, right on out of the building.

For Shike, the performance was restrained. The balding 47-year-old usually shows greater vigor in attacking his enemies, and among Pakistani-Americans, his exploits are well-known, though not applauded. To give but one example: After the New York Pakistan Post covered the latest wrinkle in Shike's divorce, he angrily denounced the story on his public-access TVshow, The Houston Connection, a weird hour of invective, interviews with crackpot politicians and shameless promotion of Shike's own mortgage company. But apparently the TVsalvo against the Post wasn't vengeance enough. According to the reporter, Shike privately threatened to break his legs.

But the reporter was only a minor enemy. Saba headed the list, and was treated accordingly. During their six-day divorce trial last September, Shike accused her of having been a prostitute and terrorist in their native Pakistan. In a pretrial motion he'd asked to make a videotape of the court proceedings, saying that he hoped to convince a Pakistani court to issue a death warrant against her. Throughout the proceedings, he denied that Saba was his wife -- never mind that four years before, he'd filed for divorce from her.

Serving as his own lawyer, Shike had repeatedly ignored Judge John D. Montgomery's instructions and admonishments. He frequently insulted Saba and her attorney, and was rude to courtroom personnel. The jurors, frightened, asked that he not have access to their names and addresses.

"Even the judge was scared of him," said Saba. "Judge Montgomery should have sent John to jail."

Montgomery said he wasn't the least bit intimidated by Shike. And in point of fact, the judge fined him $67,000 -- possibly the largest disciplinary fine ever levied at the Harris County Family Law Center. Montgomery cited Shike's courtroom antics and his frequent attempts to delay the proceedings, drawing out his wife's agony.

But even Montgomery's whopping sanction didn't list all of Shike's out-of-bounds attempts to intimidate his wife and the people who tried to help her. Shike has complained of purported misdeeds to the employers of Saba's allies. He's filed lawsuits against the lawyers and nonprofit organizations that she asked for help. Though the suits are of little merit -- in one, he accuses a lawyer of "conspiring" with her client, Saba -- they nearly stopped Saba from obtaining her divorce.

To add insult to injury, Shike has conducted his campaign at taxpayer expense. By claiming to be indigent in at least eight of the ten lawsuits he's filed, he's been released from the $153 fee normally required. But more important than the $1,224 in foregone filing fees, his suits have cost the public the time of courts, law-enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations.

"John Shike has been allowed to legally terrorize his wife and anyone who tried to help her," said Anne Recio, who withdrew as Saba's attorney after being sued by Shike. "The man drives a Mercedes and wears a Rolex watch. Yet he has paid nothing to use and abuse the court system."

In far southwest Houston, Saba Hameed, 36, shares an apartment with her elderly mother and two children, ages ten and six, from a previous marriage. A sharp-featured woman with dark black hair, Saba welcomed a visitor into her well-kept home, needlessly apologizing for the scent of curry.

She moved to Houston five years ago, after spending her entire life in Pakistan. In Lahore, she worked as an English teacher and lived with her children in the military-style compound of her employer, the Fauji Fertilizer Company. Her quarters had central air and wall-to-wall carpeting, and the company covered her utility bills. She considered herself quite well-settled.

In late 1991, Shike -- Saba's second cousin -- wrote to her older sister, requesting that Saba marry him and come to live in the U.S. Saba had never before met Shike, but via the mail and telephone, he persistently repeated the proposal. Having been married and divorced once before, Saba said she wasn't interested in Shike's offer, but her family pressed her, and finally she agreed to meet her suitor.  

On January 24, 1992, she arranged for Shike to stay at a guesthouse inside the company compound. He created quite a stir, she remembered, claiming to be a colonel with something called the Internal Bureau of Investigation and saying that he had a nice home in Houston's exclusive Memorial area and a couple of fine American cars -- a Cadillac and a Buick. Shike told Saba that, although his first two marriages had ended in divorce, he wanted to try a third time because he liked having a family. He said he would care for her children as if they were his own.

Saba was impressed. "He was in a suit and was very charming and romantic," she remembered. "I got excited too, and it just happened."

Still, she wanted to go slowly, and thought it would be a good idea to visit Houston before making a long-term commitment. But she said that Shike didn't like the idea, and met with her boss, the principal of the compound's school. The principal refused to grant her time off to visit Houston and, like her family, strongly encouraged her to accept Shike's proposal. She should burn her bridges and not look back, the principal told her, because God had sent her this man.

Saba caved in, reasoning that the marriage and moving to the U.S. would be better for her children's future. In March 1992, wearing traditional ceremonial clothing, Shike and Saba participated in a magni, the first part of a Moslem marriage ceremony. The magni was held in Pakistan so that Saba's family could attend. The couple agreed that the second part of the marriage would be performed when they reached Houston, and Saba says Shike arranged for her to enter the U.S. on a fiancee visa. Her mother, brother, son and daughter would accompany her.

Before leaving Pakistan, Shike told Saba that when they reached the U.S., she should tell people that he was the father of her children, and that she was a Ph.D. For the first time, Saba began to have serious doubts.

After Shike and his new family arrived in Houston, they took a taxi to Shike's home. But instead of ritzy Memorial, the cab stopped at the Waterstone Apartments in southwest Houston. Situated among hundreds of other complexes, the Waterstone was about as exclusive as a ride on a Metro bus.

Shike claimed to be out of cash, and Saba's mother paid the cab driver. The group then headed to Shike's two-bedroom apartment. There they found the front door open and Shike's two sons, ages six and three, sleeping on the living room floor. Shike had arranged for a woman to check on the kids, but his 13-year-old daughter, who had been left in charge, was nowhere to be found. Urine spots dotted a worn couch. Saba said Shike immediately began cursing his previous spouse and claiming that she had taken all of his new furniture and left him the old stuff.

As his sons began to stir, Saba made her way through the filthy apartment. Her children were hungry, but there was no milk or food in the refrigerator. Again, Saba's mother handed over her cash: $100 to buy groceries.

Saba realized that she had made a serious mistake. Her mother and brother said little, and despite her misgivings, Saba tried to be a good, traditional Pakistani wife -- a role that requires keeping her problems to herself.

More revelations followed. The electricity bill went unpaid, and the apartment's power was cut off. It turned out that Shike didn't have the Buick he'd mentioned in Pakistan, but that he did own a Cadillac -- one whose driver's side door was held shut by nylon string. As Shike drove down the road, he had to stick his left arm out the window and hold onto the door, lest it fly open.

Shike had told Saba that he ran a security company and was a private investigator, but he would never tell her where he was working. One evening, when she was shopping at a Kroger, she ran into him while he was on the job -- not as some kind of super-sleuth, but as a grocery store security guard. He grew furious and accused her of spying on him.

She said that within two weeks of her arrival, Shike began to physically abuse her, beating her almost daily. Ashamed, she hid the bruises from her mother and brother.

As tensions in the household escalated, Saba's children grew increasingly afraid of their new stepfather, who demanded that they call him "Daddy." Mealtimes were especially miserable. Shike complained about Saba's cooking, and would allow neither her nor her children to leave the dinner table until he tired of talking.  

At night, Saba's six-year-old, Basith, began seeking the security of sleeping with his grandmother. But Shike forbade that, and ordered the boy to sleep in the same room as his own sons. When Basith disobeyed, Saba said, Shike grabbed him and threw him against the headboard of the bed with such force that he cut his lip.

Saba called the police, and Shike was arrested. Saba vowed to separate from Shike, and moved out of the apartment.

But like many women, she found it difficult to make a clean break from an abusive spouse. She knew, too, that the Pakistani community -- which in Houston is small and tight-knit -- does not look favorably on women who go public with private affairs.

"Cases of domestic violence are unusual in our community because they never come out," said Farha Ahmed, an immigration attorney and member of the Houston Area Women's Center's Asian advisory task force. "In the Pakistani community, there's that thing of honor and protecting your family. Even if you are going through hell, you basically keep your mouth shut because you want your reputation to stay intact." (Ahmed and her husband were also targets of one of Shike's lawsuits; Shike accused the couple of slander and of conspiring with Saba against him. He eventually dropped the suit.)

Shike promised to stop the abuse, and he and Saba reconciled. After Saba refused to cooperate with the police investigation of Shike, the charges of injury to a child were dropped.

But despite Shike's promises, Saba said, he continued to abuse her and her son. He'd punish Basith by locking him in a closet for hours at a time.

The couple again separated, and in September 1992, six months after bringing Saba to Houston, Shike himself filed for a divorce and told her that he was going to have the Immigration and Naturalization Service deport her.

Two months later, after yet another reconciliation, he withdrew the divorce petition. But according to Saba, their domestic life didn't improve. After about a month, during an argument over dinner, Shike threw a large bowl of rice at her. She raised her hands to shield her face, and the bowl broke one of her fingers. She told a doctor that the garage door fell on it.

In January 1993, Shike threw Saba out of their house in southwest Houston. She spent the night on the steps of a nearby church. The next morning, she returned to the house and collected her mother, children and a few belongings. With the small amount of money she'd saved by working at retail jobs and as a substitute teacher, Saba rented a one-bedroom apartment on Beechnut.

Though still emotionally attached to Shike, she was determined not to return, and she thought they'd worked out a truce by agreeing to remain married but have separate apartments. But it was a short-lived cease-fire.

Shike began stalking her, following her to the bus stop and to her job at a luggage store in Sharpstown Mall. He filed charges against her brother, who he accused of sexually molesting one of Saba's stepsons behind a mosque. (The charges were eventually dropped.) Shike even attempted to move into the apartment next door to hers. When Saba alerted her landlord, she said, Shike claimed that he wasn't really John Shike, but John Shike's twin brother. The landlord didn't fall for the ruse.

By August 1993, Saba said, Shike had become suicidal, and she had him committed to the Harris County Psychiatric Center. According to medical records filed in one of his many lawsuits, a hospital official observed that he had symptoms of "delusion and grandiosity." The next day, a different staff member noted that "there has been no evidence to support estranged wife's allegations that he was delusional," not eating or sleeping, and talking to himself. The attendant recommended that Shike be discharged the next day -- but he also recommended that Shike be given a prescription for lithium.

Eleven days after Shike was released from the hospital, Saba returned from a day of substitute teaching. She heard a knock at the door, and found two deputy constables with a mental health arrest warrant for her. She tried to explain to the officers that they were making a mistake -- and saw Shike standing outside the door, laughing.

She spent the evening at the county psychiatric center, locked in a room with a woman who laughed all night. Saba passed part of the time by reading a brochure in her room about wrongful commitment. And she decided to start learning U.S. laws.  

The next morning, after her release from the mental hospital, Saba went to the family violence unit of the Houston Police Department. As it turned out, John Shike was no stranger to HPD.

According to police records, between March 1990 and February 1995, Houston police responded to 22 alleged incidents in which Shike was listed as the suspect. Among the complaints were accusations of terroristic threats, assaults and telephone harassment.

But sometimes, Shike himself called the police. Between January 1993 and April 1995, Shike filed 26 similar complaints of his own with HPD. Many of those complaints were against Saba.

Nonetheless, family violence investigators concluded that he was abusing her, and not the other way around. "We felt like Saba was a victim," said Lt. Ken Johnson. The family violence unit alone has a two-inch file on Shike, and police viewed him as potentially dangerous. His photo was posted in the unit's outer office, so that if he entered the building, investigators would be notified immediately.

In return, Shike filed a complaint with HPD's internal affairs division, alleging that one of the family violence unit's officers was having an affair with Saba. IAD found the allegations to be without merit.

Investigators found more substance to Saba's charges against Shike. Three days after her stay at the psychiatric unit, Shike was arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining a mental-health warrant. In September 1993, he was convicted of the misdemeanor and sentenced to 180 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. He is appealing the conviction.

"What John Shike did to her amounts to legalized stalking," said one HPD officer. "He is basically a one-man mob, and he has nothing better to do than cause people grief."

Police officers directed Saba to two organizations that could help get her life in order: the Victim's Assistance Center and Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. The nonprofit organizations both counsel victims of spousal abuse, and AVDA provides legal representation to those who are at or near poverty level. With AVDA's assistance, Saba filed for divorce in October.

Shike responded, using the legal system as a weapon. Acting as his own lawyer, he filed a barrage of motions to delay the proceedings. In response to the divorce petition, he denied that he had ever been married to Saba. And he moved to have the presiding judge, Annette Galik, recuse herself on the grounds that he had contributed to her political campaign. To the surprise of AVDA, Galik did recuse herself, and the case was reassigned to Judge John D. Montgomery.

Shike's campaign against Saba extended past the courtroom. At the conclusion of one court hearing, AVDA officials said, he followed Saba back to their headquarters in a downtown office building. A staffer saw Shike yelling at her in Punjabi and Urdu, and called the police. After Saba said that Shike had threatened to throw acid in her face, he was arrested. The charges were eventually dismissed because the English-speaking witnesses couldn't verify Shike's threat.

After that incident, Shike inundated the AVDA office with faxes and phone calls. AVDA was powerless to fight back: Because Shike was acting as his own attorney, Recio had to talk to him when he called. Sometimes he'd be perfectly pleasant; other times, he'd scream so loudly the lawyer would hold the phone away from her ear.

On February 24, 1995, Shike found a way to separate Saba from her lawyers. In addition to suing Saba, her mother and brother, Shike also filed suit against AVDA as an organization, and against Recio and another AVDA staffer as individuals. The suit charged that AVDA, described as an "anti-men" group, had helped Saba file a false police report, and that the women at AVDA claimed to "have pulled the similar types of set up [sic] against several other men." In the suit, Shike also claimed that the defendants had threatened his life.

The suit was ridiculous on its face, but nonetheless, it had its desired effect. Amazingly, AVDA's insurance company recommended settling with Shike for somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000; AVDA would have had to pay a $1,000 deductible -- a significant amount to the tightly budgeted organization. And the thought of Shike receiving any money appalled AVDA executive director Rhonda Gerson.

Since Shike had offered to drop the suit if the group dropped its defense of Saba, AVDA officials said they were left with little choice. In April of last year, about five months before Saba's divorce suit was set for trial, Recio and AVDA withdrew from the case.

Shike dropped the suit as promised, but he continued to harass the organization. "He'd still call us and tell us that he was thinking about moving into our building," said Gerson. "He just refused to go away."  

As Shike was filing his lawsuits, he came to the attention of Lieutenant V. H. Schultea of the Harris County Precinct 5 constable's office. It fell to that office to serve notice to Shike's numerous defendants, a job that required considerable time and for which the office normally received $45 per notice. Schultea, noting that Shike had requested a fee waiver on grounds of poverty, decided to check Shike's background.

According to Schultea, Shike had four personal bank accounts, but none contained much money. Schultea also discovered a business account, but since Shike was in a partnership with someone else, it was impossible to tell how much of the money was his. Additionally, Schultea found that Shike owned 30 to 35 companies doing business under such names as Global Protective Service, Star World Travel, Friends of Pakistan Society and Shike Aviation.

From a member of the Pakistani community, Schultea discovered that Shike had a job and was not indigent. When Shike found out that the man had given information to the constable, he called a third man and threatened to rape the informant's wife and 12-year-old daughter. The man recorded the conversation and turned the tape over to the police.

Schultea took his findings to the district attorney's office. Believing that Shike was lying about his inability to pay the filing fees, Schultea felt that he'd found at least five good perjury cases against Shike. The D.A.'s office accepted one, but the misdemeanor charge was dropped in August 1995 as part of a plea-bargain arrangement. In that case, Shike pleaded guilty to verbally harassing the Pakistani informant. For that crime, he received deferred adjudication and a $300 fine.

AVDA's withdrawal made it extremely hard for Saba to find a lawyer. When private attorneys called AVDA to explore taking the case, Recio and Gerson gave them a brutally honest assessment: If you oppose Shike, count on being sued. Not surprisingly, no lawyers accepted the challenge.

Shortly after Saba was left to fend for herself, a court ruling greatly embarrassed her. In April 1995, Judge Montgomery issued a summary judgment that John and Saba Shike had never been married in a formal ceremony in the U.S. (Indeed, the second half of their tradition Islamic marriage ceremony had never taken place. Saba contends a Moslem minister in Houston told them the ceremony in Pakistan was sufficient to make the couple man and wife, so a second ceremony was not needed.) The ruling left open the possibility that Saba and Shike had been married in Pakistan, but at least temporarily, it bolstered Shike's case that Saba was not his wife.

The judgment devastated Saba, who was less worried about its legal ramifications than how it might taint her and her children in the eyes of the Pakistani community. As a last resort, she turned to the Harris County District Attorney's office, which had successfully prosecuted Shike for fraudulently swearing out a mental health warrant. She was directed to Cindy Merrill, the chief of the D.A.'s family criminal law division.

Merrill was appalled. "John Shike was abusing the system so blatantly it took my breath away," she said.

Despite her concern, though, Merrill was limited in her ability to help Saba. As a prosecutor for the county, she couldn't accept Saba's civil case, and office policy prohibited Merrill from referring Saba to a private attorney. But Merrill did what she could: She contacted the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program and strenuously urged that an attorney be found to take Saba's case at no charge.

In early August 1996, the program matched Saba with Stewart Gagnon, the head of the family law section of Fulbright & Jaworski, one of Houston's most powerful firms. Gagnon agreed to accept the case, though he understood why others hadn't: He knew that he was likely to be sued, and that defending himself would cost him and his firm time and money. Furthermore, Gagnon had been warned that John Shike would drive him crazy. "And," said Gagnon, "he did."

During the six-day trial in September, a woman who Shike identified as his wife left the courtroom with some papers. Judge Montgomery quickly realized that the papers were needed in court, and Gagnon dispatched one of his assistants to retrieve the woman. Since she'd already stepped into an elevator, the assistant put his arm inside to stop the doors from closing, and told the woman she was needed back in the courtroom. Shike later accused the assistant of yanking the woman out of the elevator.

"He's very smart," said Gagnon, who acknowledges that Shike showed some flair for the law. "But I think in a lot of ways, he has a characterlogical problem. He doesn't know right from wrong. He'll tell you anything as long as he gets the results he needs."  

The jury liked Shike no better. At one point during the trial, he asked a member of the courtroom staff how he was doing with the panel. The employee told Shike bluntly that he was loud and abrasive, and that the jury hated his guts.

Shike's confrontational style so offended one juror that she sent the judge a note indicating that she couldn't give Shike's arguments a fair hearing. The judge excused her, and the trial proceeded.

At the conclusion of the testimony, the judge ruled that although there had been no ceremonial marriage, since Saba and Shike had lived together and held themselves out as married, in the eyes of Texas the couple were indeed man and wife. And thus, they could be divorced.

After deliberating less than four hours, the jury decided that Saba should be granted a divorce, and that Shike should pay her $1.6 million for her pain and suffering. Most of that award -- $1.125 million -- was in exemplary damages.

At the conclusion of the trial, Gagnon filed several motions asking the judge to levy further sanctions on Shike for his behavior in the courtroom. Undaunted and unrepentant, Shike again stalled, asking the judge to recuse himself. Montgomery refused, but was prevented from signing the final divorce decree or ruling on Gagnon's motion until the matter could be resolved. After Judge Pat McDowell ruled that Montgomery needn't be recused, Shike filed a motion to recuse Judge McDowell.

On April 10, after all the legal hurdles had been cleared, Montgomery finally ruled on the sanctions. Writing that Shike's filings before, during and after the trial were "calculated attempts to harass, intimidate and frustrate" Saba and the legal system, the judge ordered Shike to pay an extraordinary $67,000 in fines.

During the course of the divorce, Recio and Gagnon had been surprised by the judge's leniency toward Shike's breaches of legal etiquette, but that tolerance, Montgomery later explained, came with a price. "He is an individual who is availing himself of the system," said the judge. "However, the corollary of availing oneself of the system is being willing to accept responsibility for those things you file."

At an Indian restaurant, John Shike sprayed bits of chicken curry as he railed against the people and organizations he's convinced are conspiring against him.

Shike spoke nonstop as he ate, leaping from subject to subject so quickly as to be almost incomprehensible. But clearly, he didn't have much use for his ex-wife, Judge Montgomery or the sanctions order. And he reserved special contempt for lawyer Stewart Gagnon.

"He's going to be sorry he ever heard my name before I'm through with him," said Shike. "It's the Middle Eastern/Asian mentality. When you go after a person, if you don't kill the snake, it will come back and bite you."

Shike said that he moved to this country from Pakistan when he was ten years old and became a naturalized citizen. His father, he claimed, wrote the Pakistani declaration of independence. He also claimed to have a correspondence-course law degree from Newport University in California, and a political science degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. (Newport officials could find no record of him whatsoever, and according to UTSA's registrar's office, Shike completed less than two years of coursework there and was not awarded a degree.)

Shike claimed to be many things, among them a television personality, a businessman and a politician.

He now supports himself by working for a mortgage company. During the 1980s, he operated a security company, which he said closed because he let its insurance lapse. (State records show that he did operate a security company. However, according to a spokesman for the Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Securities Agencies, Shike's criminal history prevents the renewal of his license.)

Shike also happily recounted his forays into politics. In 1977, using the name Bob A. Sheikh, he ran for City Council against long-time incumbent Jim Westmoreland. Shike finished third, with 1,385 votes; Westmoreland had nearly 17,000. But Shike maintained that Westmoreland was very worried by his upstart opponent's good looks. "I consider myself handsome," said Shike. As he peered through his large aviator eyeglasses, he resembled a large frog with vision problems.

In 1980, under the name of Robert Daniel Shike, he ran in the Republican Party primary, seeking to represent the heavily Democratic District 79. Shike was again trounced, coming in second after garnering only 611 votes. Despite his defeat at the hands of his Republican opponent, Shike remained convinced that he had much better name recognition than the eventual winner, Democrat Debra Danburg. Even though he was never actually on the ballot opposite her, he claims he lost the race because, in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, she accused him of being Iranian.  

His last campaign was in 1982, when he made a bid to unseat former state Representative Milton Fox. Shike -- campaigning once again as Bob A. Sheikh -- collected only 282 votes in the GOP primary.

Understandably, Shike preferred to talk less about himself and more about his obsessions. The list stretched from the Pakistani community to the Houston Police Deparment to Harris County District Attorney Johnny Holmes. But Saba, of course, dominated all other topics.

From his briefcase he pulled a document, signed by Judge P.K. Reiter, which states that their marriage application was invalid because the application is dated 11 a.m. April 2, 1992. Shike's passport indicates he did not return to Houston until later that afternoon. Though Judge Montgomery determined that Shike and Saba had a common-law marriage, Shike adamantly maintained that Reiter's ruling makes Montgomery's decision "moot" and the marriage "null and void." Shike also brushed aside the nagging detail that he himself once filed for divorce from Saba. He explained that he withdrew his divorce petition because "religiously it was wrong."

"If I was not married to this woman," he said, "I cannot be divorced from her."

He repeated his accusations that Saba is a prostitute and a terrorist. He said that he didn't learn her true identity until she was recognized by someone here in Houston.

He also added a new twist to this story, saying that he helped bring Saba into the United States illegally as part of an immigration scam. "I should never have done it," he said grimly, and avowed that he has turned information over to the INS. (Immigration officials in Houston declined to comment.)

Shike also promised revenge against Judge Montgomery, most likely via a lawsuit. Shike was particularly incensed by the reports, verified by the judge, that he had asked to videotape the trial in order to have a Pakistani court issue a death warrant for Saba. (The judge denied the motion.)

"All he does is holler and scream," Shike said of Montgomery. "I don't care what he does. I'll get that son of a bitch."

He leaned back from the restaurant table, satiated by a big lunch, and seemed quite pleased with himself. Outside the restaurant, he walked toward a gold Mercedes -- a shiny, clean car, with no nylon string holding the door on.

He paused in the parking lot to explain why he has no fear of the court's ruling. He said he plans to leave the country, and claimed that he has a contract to work for the BBC. "I'm going to be living overseas, and they are going to have this judgment," he said. "I wipe my nose and my butt with it. Stewart Gagnon can have it to put it in his living room."

If Shike does move to Europe, few people will be sorry to see him go. He'll leave behind ten active lawsuits -- some with multiple defendants -- currently on file in Harris County. District Clerk Charles Bacarisse says he's concerned about abuse of the inability to pay statute. "The best I can do is monitor the situation and bring abuses to the attention of the judges," he says. "I don't want to be placed in the position of being the gatekeeper of the judicial system."

One of Shike's pending cases is yet another divorce: this one from Shahnaz Akbari, a woman he apparently married after he and Saba were separated, but before their divorce was final. Akbari's attorney indicates that her client may pursue bigamy charges.

Shike's legal wrangling has been widely reported in the Pakistani community. During a recent meeting of the Pakistani Association of Greater Houston, a reporter asking about Shike was greeted with knowing laughter.

A few minutes later, at a Pakistani restaurant in southwest Houston, the owner said that "abnormal" is the only word to describe Shike. "There are three ways a person can make a name for themselves," said the restaurateur. "You can be an Einstein and accomplish great things. Or you can be a Mother Teresa and do good deeds. Or you can be notorious -- and that is the path John Shike has chosen."

The former Saba Shike now calls herself Saba Hameed, and fervently hopes that her legal battles with her ex-husband are now at an end. She and her attorney don't hold out much hope of collecting the money the jury ordered Shike to pay. But before he can file an appeal or any new suits related to Saba, the judge has ordered that Shike must first post a $25,000 bond.  

Saba worries that her children may be tainted by the divorce scandal. Friends have suggested that she might want to make a fresh start elsewhere, but nonetheless, she plans to stay put. She's stronger now, she says. And besides, she adds, "the devil can follow you anywhere.

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