LOS ANGELES (AP) — For someone who loves to share photos of herself online, little is known about V. Stiviano other than that she is at the center of a scandal involving Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The 31-year-old Los Angeles resident is being sued by Sterling’s wife and has been identified as the woman heard on an audio recording of a racist diatribe attributed to the Clippers’ owner. With the NBA set to address the allegations against Sterling at a news conference Tuesday, Stiviano remains a key figure in a scandal that started out on the websites TMZ and Deadspin and has since drawn the attention of league officials, sports stars who are calling for sanctions against Sterling, and President Barack Obama.
Here are some key details about Stiviano:
WHAT’S WITH THE NAME?
Stiviano was born Maria Vanessa Perez in October 1982 in Los Angeles, but successfully petitioned to change her name to V. Stiviano in 2010. There’s no explanation for what the name means, but her stated reason in the court filing was, “Born from a rape case and having yet been fully accepted because of my race.”
In the recorded conversation purported to be with Sterling, the woman identified by TMZ as Stiviano said she was of black and Mexican descent.
In March, Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, sued Stiviano, claiming she had received more than $2.5 million in lavish gifts from the Clippers owner and they needed to be returned. A big piece of the suit involves a duplex Stiviano purchased in December for nearly $1.8 million with money that Rochelle Sterling claims Stiviano received from her husband. Stiviano’s name appears on the deed, and Rochelle Sterling is asking a judge to transfer the property to her and her husband.
In the filing, Rochelle Sterling accuses Stiviano of engaging “in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose.”
Stiviano’s attorney has filed documents to dismiss many of the lawsuit’s accusations and denies that Donald Sterling was taken advantage of. “Nowhere in the complaint is it alleged that defendant so acted nor that the feminine wiles of Ms. Stiviano overpowered the iron will of Donald T. Sterling who is well known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the world.”
In 2012, Stiviano was charged with driving under the influence, but pleaded no contest to a reckless driving charge in July. Officials say there are no restrictions on her driving privileges at this time.
HOW SHE MAY HAVE MET STERLING
Rochelle Sterling’s lawsuit claims Stiviano met Sterling at the 2010 Super Bowl.
Since then, the pair have been in a relationship and Stiviano has received a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover from the Clippers’ owner, the lawsuit alleges. The vehicles are worth more than $500,000 according to the suit.
PHOTO SHARING STARTED SCANDAL
Sterling and Stiviano’s alleged fight was apparently sparked by the businessman’s displeasure with Stiviano posting pictures of herself online with Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
The Johnson photo has since been deleted from Stiviano’s Instagram account, where she boasted nearly 150,000 followers as of Monday evening. Several of her 200 photos include her posing in front of Clippers signs or with team memorabilia, including a pair of jerseys emblazoned with her last name.
Her bio lists her as an “artist, lover, writer, chef, poet, stylist, philanthropist.” The Los Angeles Times reported that Stiviano’s name appeared as the director of the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation in an ad for a 2011 luncheon, however she is not listed as having an official role with the foundation in tax documents filed between 2010 and 2012.
ATTORNEY NO LONGER ANSWERING QUESTIONS
Stiviano’s attorney, Mac Nehoray, has said his client did not leak the audio of the conversation with Sterling, but he has said what’s been posted online is a snippet of a conversation lasting roughly an hour.
On Monday, a man who answered the phone at Nehoray’s law office wouldn’t identify himself and said the attorney would no longer comment on the audio or Stiviano’s case. He said the attorney was invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, citing a statement issued by the Clippers accusing Stiviano of embezzlement.
Los Angeles police say they are not investigating Stiviano or the audio’s release at this time.
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