Legal Issues and Lawsuits and Herb Simon and Labor and Law

Wife of Pacers owner testifies against nanny

August 2, 2011

The wife of Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon testified Tuesday that she knew nothing about violence in the past of a nanny who worked for her and said she would not have hired her if she had known.

Bui Simon said that she never heard of that allegation against Claudia Liete until after she had fired her in a dispute and the nanny sued the couple for wrongful dismissal.

Simon, who has a net worth of $1.4 billion, is defending himself and his wife against lawsuits by Liete and other household help who worked at their Malibu and Montecito, Calif., homes.

Bui Simon, a 1988 Miss Universe from Thailand, said she was shocked by the suit and told Liete that if it went ahead, the nanny's past would become public.

"Not only are we feeling this awful betrayal, but it was going to be awful for her, too," she said.

She testified on a day when a former boyfriend of Liete took the stand and told of the volatile relationship between the couple. Bui Simon said she knew nothing of the domestic disputes and violent incidents which led Liete to be jailed for a few days.

Had she known, she said, she never would have entrusted her children to the nanny.

She said she became suspicious once when she appointed Liete to drive the children on school trips and the school asked for the nanny's fingerprints.

She said she received a call from the school later, saying that Liete had failed the fingerprint test and could not be a volunteer driver.

She said she asked the nanny about it and the Brazil-born Liete said she once was detained when she entered the United States.

"She'd been with me for six years and I had no reason not to believe her," Bui Simon said.

She said the record of violent incidents shocked her when she found out about it.

"The Claudia I knew was loving, gentle and caring. Two times out of 10 years I saw explosive situations and this person I didn't know," she said, referring to when Liete took off after the women had a dispute at the airport and when Liete became angry about being fired.

The attorney for Liete delayed his cross examination of Bui Simon until Wednesday.

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