Bill O'Reilly's Divorce Is So Ugly, God Got Involved
Bill O'Reilly wants his ex-wife to go to Hell. Literally. As we previously reported, the Fox News falafelist became separated from his former wife Maureen McPhilmy at some point in 2011, and later went on an apparently corrupt crusade to destroy the career of the Nassau County Police detective she was dating. We have now confirmed that O'Reilly and McPhilmy have been formally divorced, that she has since married the detective, and that O'Reilly is in the midst of a scorched-earth custody battle—dubbed, appropriately enough, Anonymous v. Anonymous—over the ex-couple's two children. It involves a surreptitious attempt by O'Reilly to undermine his custody arrangement by hiring, as a member of his household staff, the woman he and his ex had agreed on as a neutral arbiter of their disputes. It also involves O'Reilly's attempts to annul his marriage and have McPhilmy potentially booted from the Catholic Church.
To catch you up: In May 2010, O'Reilly and his wife began living in separate houses less than half a mile from each other on Long Island. In 2011, O'Reilly used his connections with the Nassau County Police Department (and the potential for donations to a nonprofit affiliated with the department) to try to launch an internal affairs investigation into McPhilmy's new boyfriend—a Nassau County detective—for the crime of sleeping with Bill O'Reilly's wife. With the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union, we are currently suing the NCPD for access to public records, including O'Reilly's correspondence with former commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, about the episode. That case is on appeal to the Second Department of New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division.
Which brings us to another case we found rattling around in the Second Department: Anonymous 2011-1 v. Anonymous 2011-2. Family law cases in New York are not a matter of public record. But their existence, in the form of a docket entry with the names of the participants—as in Kramer v. Kramer—generally is. In rare cases, a judge will grant a motion to anonymize the names to protect the interests of the children or the privacy of public citizens. Anonymous 2011-1 v. Anonymous 2011-2 is one of those cases.
The dispute behind Anonymous 2011-1 v. Anonymous 2011-2 has been bitter enough, though, that the case ended up in the appellate division, where decisions are routinely published, often laying bare sensitive details. It's a custody action, commenced in September 2011, and you can read all about it right here, on the web site of the New York state court system. It involves a treacherous father who attempted to maintain control over the children he shared with his ex-wife by buying off and co-opting their purportedly neutral therapist. Anonymous 2011-1 is McPhilmy. Anonymous 2011-2 is O'Reilly.
The dispute was heard by the Second Department in
January October, after a trial court denied McPhilmy's motion to amend the couple's custody agreement.
Here's what the Second Department opinion reveals:
- O'Reilly and McPhilmy separated on April 2, 2010.
- They divorced on September 1, 2011.
- They agreed to share custody of their two children, aged 13 and 10.
- The couple's separation agreement included provisions allowing for shared custody—they each got the children on alternating weeks. And it also appointed a "neutral therapist" to, according to the opinion, "act as a neutral mediator to help them resolve any parenting disputes."
And here's where it gets interesting. In October 2011, McPhilmy took O'Reilly to court after learning that the woman she thought had been a neutral therapist serving the needs of her children was in fact a member of her ex-husband's household staff. The therapist, a Long Island licensed social worker named Lynne Kulakowski, was working long days and some evenings in O'Reilly's house, on his payroll, and basically acting as the children's nanny. From the opinion:
The mother claimed that the [father] had repeatedly violated conditions of the agreement. The mother further alleged that, after the execution of the agreement, the father had hired the children's therapist as a full-time employee to perform virtually all of his parental duties.... The mother's affidavit contained specific allegations concerning the father's repeated violations of the custody provisions of the agreement since its inception.... Moreover, the full-time employment of the children's therapist, the person designated in the agreement as a neutral third-party "arbitrator" of custodial disputes, by the father, constitutes a significant change of circumstance which could undermine the integrity of the agreement's custodial provisions.
At a Second Department hearing in
January October, McPhilmy's attorney claimed—and O'Reilly's attorney did not dispute—that Kulakowski was earning a six-figure salary from O'Reilly. All of this, of course, made a mockery of the custody agreement's appointment of Kulakowski as a neutral arbiter of disputes—O'Reilly rigged the game against his ex-wife. A lower court initially denied McPhilmy's request for a hearing about O'Reilly's co-optation of the therapist, but the appellate court agreed with McPhilmy and sent the case back for a hearing. In a highly unusual step for an appellate court, it also ordered the appointment of an independent attorney for the children, an indication that the dispute has become particularly poisonous.
Another indication that it has become poisonous: the Catholic Church has gotten involved. Gawker has learned that McPhilmy has been formally reprimanded in writing by her church for continuing to take communion in her Long Island parish despite having been divorced and remarried—a no-no according to the Pope. The reprimand also instructed her to stop telling her children that her second marriage, to the Nassau County detective O'Reilly tried to destroy, is valid in the eyes of God. It warned her that if she didn't comply, harsher measures may be in order.
Chad Glendinning, a professor of canon law at Canada's St. Paul University, couldn't say whether the reprimand was a first step on the road to excommunication. But he did say it appeared to be a first step toward barring her from the sacraments if necessary. "Public denial of holy communion is to be avoided as far as possible," he said. "Instead, pastors should take precautionary measures to explain the Church's teaching to concerned persons so that they may be able to understand it or at least respect it. It is possible that the letter you describe is such an attempt."
There presumably aren't too many people besides O'Reilly who know what McPhilmy is saying to her children about how God views her marriage. And O'Reilly, who interviewed Timothy Cardinal Dolan last year and donated more than $65,000 to New York Catholic parishes and schools in 2011, according to the tax return of his nonprofit foundation, carries considerable weight in the archdiocese.
While he's busy harassing McPhilmy for asserting the holiness of her second marriage, O'Reilly is trying to deny the existence of his first: He is, Gawker has learned, seeking an annulment of his 15-year marriage, which produced two children. Null and void. Invalid in the eyes of God. Never happened. This despite his manifest belief in the "stability" that straight marriage brings to the culture and concern at the (purportedly) declining marriage rates in countries that allow gay people to marry one another. If successful, the annulment would presumably render his 2004 escapade with former producer Andrea Mackris, whom he repeatedly and vividly sexually harassed with threats to take "the falafel thing...and put it on your pussy," retroactively kosher with Jesus. (It would also make him even more of an asshole than his familial nemesis Joseph Kennedy, who tried and failed to have his 12-year marriage annulled.)
The bow on this whole package is the matter of McPhilmy's attorney, listed atop the Second Department decision: She has hired a firm called Greenfield Labby, and is represented by one Casey Greenfield. Gawker readers will remember Greenfield as the daughter of network newsman Jeff Greenfield and babymama to CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, whom Greenfield had to sue for support in 2009 after the birth of their son. (Toobin was and remains married to another woman, and insisted for months that the child was not his; a paternity test proved otherwise.) Greenfield went on, according to the New York Times, to form a boutique divorce firm. She has apparently put her familiarity with TV assholes to good use.
We contacted Fox News, O'Reilly's attorney, Kulakowski, and Greenfield for comment; none did.