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Gay former N.J. govs divorce trial begins in closed court
Gay Governor Divorc 5302119
Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, left, arrives at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, N.J., Tuesday, May 6, 2008, for the start of his divorce trial from his wife, Dina Matos McGreevey. - photo by Associated Press
    TRENTON, N.J. — After two tell-all books, tawdry sex claims and 3 1/2 years of living apart, New Jersey’s gay ex-governor and his estranged wife showed up for court Tuesday morning to begin the process of ending their marriage.
    ‘‘It’s a beautiful day,’’ former Gov. Jim McGreevey said as he entered alone through the back entrance of the courthouse.
    Dina Matos McGreevey had no comment when she arrived with her lawyer through the front courthouse entrance.
    The first three days of the trial will be closed to the media as Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy considers custody issues surrounding the couple’s 6-year-old daughter. The judge has sealed documents and testimony about the kindergartner, their only child.
    McGreevey and his wife have been going at each other publicly for months about everything from his partner’s financial assets to their daughter’s birthday party.
    The issues to be decided in the divorce settlement involve custody, alimony and child support, and whether McGreevey, now openly gay, committed fraud by marrying a woman.
    Matos McGreevey, 41, is seeking $600,000 for time she would have spent at the governor’s mansion had her husband not resigned in disgrace. McGreevey stepped down during his first term after a nationally televised speech in which he acknowledged being ‘‘a gay American’’ and having an affair with a male staffer. The staffer has denied the affair and said he was sexually harassed by McGreevey.
    Since his resignation in the fall of 2004, both McGreevey and his soon-to-be-ex have written books about their time together, including their sex lives. She claims she never knew he was gay until just before he told the rest of the world. He claims their marriage was ‘‘a contrivance on both our parts,’’ but that he fulfilled the marriage contract by providing companionship and a child.
    The couple has continued to stay in the news through a series of public spats and catty comments. McGreevey once criticized an outfit his wife wore on television, and she forced him to remove a large photograph of a nude man that hung over his bed when their daughter was to visit.
    Neither has heeded stern suggestions from the judge that they settle the case rather than expend the emotional energy and significant money for a divorce trial.
    The most sensational witness could be Teddy Pedersen, a 29-year-old former aide who claims he had regular three-way sexual encounters with the McGreeveys beginning when they were dating in 1999 and ending two years later, after they were married and McGreevey had been elected governor.
    John Post, a lawyer representing Matos McGreevey, is seeking to bar Pedersen’s testimony. Matos McGreevey claims the encounters never happened. McGreevey says they did.
    McGreevey, 50, now lives with a male partner and is studying to be an Episcopal priest. Matos McGreevey, who until recently worked at Columbus Hospital in Newark, can often be seen providing commentary on cable television shows, most recently providing analysis when New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal.
    The former governor wants joint physical and legal custody of their daughter. He currently has the child one night a week and every other weekend.
    Child support payments will depend on custody arrangements, lawyers have said.

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