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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 02:34 GMT 03:34 UK
Yoko accuses Lennon aide in court
Frederic Seaman
Accused: Frederic Seaman leaves court
Yoko Ono has taken the stand in a New York courtroom where she is suing a former personal assistant of John Lennon for allegedly stealing mementos and selling them on to collectors.


This is about the trust that John and Yoko put in Fred Seaman's hand and how Mr Seaman has betrayed their trust

Yoko Ono's attorney Paul LiCalsi
Lennon's widow wants Frederic Seaman, 49, to surrender the rights to 374 photos he took of Lennon, and hand over about $75,000 in profits from the sale of the rock legend's manuscripts and revealing letters.

The feud between the pair goes back to 1981 - the year after Lennon's death - when Ms Ono fired Mr Seaman after she caught him wearing Lennon's clothes and charging restaurant and nightclub sprees to her, a lawsuit says.

Ms Ono says she was then unaware he had been looting Lennon's files.

Privacy deal

In 1983, Mr Seaman pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny for stealing Lennon's diaries. He was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to return all the property.

But Ms Ono says that some items have not been returned and she suspects that Mr Seaman will exploit them.

yoko ono
Ono: Long-running feud
At the opening of the trial, Ms Ono's attorney Paul LiCalsi said Mr Seaman had signed a confidentiality agreement that barred him from using family belongings for personal gain during or after his employment.

"This is about the trust that John and Yoko put in Fred Seaman's hand and how Mr Seaman has betrayed their trust," LiCalsi told the eight jurors.

Ms Ono - who also seeks unspecified damages - was asked her marital status after taking the stand as her son, Sean, watched from the first row.

"I'm a widow. I was married from March 20, 1969 to December 8, 1980," she said.

"He was a member of a band called the Beatles and was a good singer, writer of songs and guitarist and published two books of poetry and was a painter as well."

Ms Ono described Mr Seaman's duties during the three years he worked for them at their apartment and office in The Dakota apartment building, including chronicling family vacations through photographs.

She also stressed how important privacy was to Lennon and herself during those years and how they demanded discretion and confidentiality from their employees.

Mr Seaman has argued that he took the photos at the centre of the court case on his own time and with his own camera - making him the rightful owner.

Evidence in the trial is expected to reveal details of Lennon's final years in New York and his sometimes tense relationship with fellow former Beatle Paul McCartney.

John Lennon: 1940-1980


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