By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
After Elena signed her statement denying the incest, however, McMahan dropped his divorce action, and the couple reconciled at least long enough so that Elena agreed with his request not to speak with New Times when we called asking about her affidavit.
When ¨Daddy´s Girl¨ went to print and during the weeks of settlement discussions as McMahan tried to have the various lawsuits sealed, Elena says, he asked her to go to Ukraine -- probably, she suspects, to keep her from being questioned about the story or from being subpoenaed during the settlement talks.
Their reconciliation was short-lived. Since news about McMahan and the lawsuits broke last fall, their relationship has deteriorated, and now Elena says she´s a prisoner in McMahan´s big house.
Driving toward Pelham in her light-blue Lexus SUV, Elena points out the gilded, framed saints on her dash, Nicholas, Peter, and Paul.
¨They protect me from the troubles. He´s in a war, and he´s using his own kids. In their claims, it´s always about the money. I said to him many times, he has no heart; he has a dollar. He said there´s nothing for him to do with business in America after the story came out. In Dubai, people do not care, but in America and in Europe, they don´t want to do business with him anymore.¨
She´s an unusually cautious driver, stopping for yellow lights that others would hit the gas to blow through, signaling carefully for the simplest lane change. After an hour´s drive, she pulls slowly into the half-moon driveway at McMahan´s two-story brick house in the Tudor style. She parks near the older Bentley sedan in front of the home´s big wooden door. Elena is afraid that the five German shepherds have gotten loose, and she asks a house worker to put them into the basement.
Vladimir hops onto a bicycle. Elizabeth asks for a cookie.
The dark wooden paneling in the foyer makes it seem even darker than it actually is, but there´s an orange glow coming from a stained-glass window. Through glass doors, there´s a glimpse of the sweeping tracts that make up the four-acre estate, which includes elaborate gardens, a pond with ducks, and a playground for the children.
On a table in the entryway are photos of McMahan alone and with his daughter Heather. A humidor holds a plentiful supply of hand-rolled cigars.
In a room off the right of the foyer, two grand pianos can be seen through double doors. On the other side is a sunroom with a large swing and a sideboard with a photo of Linda. It´s also where Elena keeps her dried and silk flowers for arrangements and a few peacock feathers. She and her children live in a few rooms that seem obviously to have been intended by the home´s builders as accommodations for live-in staff. She points out that, for all of the home´s luxury, she´s actually denied access to its main wing, which is up a grand staircase and behind a locked door.
¨I am here like a guest. I cannot move. I cannot touch anything. If the kids break something, he makes me pay for it.¨
Because McMahan keeps his wife locked out of the home´s main wing, she can´t show us the study and bedroom where, Linda testified, he seduced her by showing her the first half-hour of the movie Braveheart and wondering if the two of them had been married in past lives.
Restricted to her wing of the house, Elena has installed a playroom for the children in what used to be a breakfast nook overlooking the estate grounds. It contains a television and a mountain of children´s movies -- in English and Russian. She keeps to her side of the mansion, and she and McMahan rarely talk.
¨The day he settled everything with Linda, he began to treat me like dirt again,¨ she says.
After a custody hearing last month, Elena says, she became concerned that she and her lawyer were no match for McMahan´s legal team. Since then, she has hired a new lawyer who, she says, is more aggressive and who intends to subpoena Linda. Even though a judge appointed a guardian for the two small children, Elena says her greatest fear is that her husband´s wealth will buy him custody of Vladimir and Elizabeth.
Telling her story now, she hopes, will persuade McMahan to stop waging war with her in family court. She wants sole custody of the two children -- she wants his visits with them to be supervised.
¨I am not fighting him because of the money,¨ she says. ¨Nothing could be worse for me than to lose these kids. I cannot imagine for them to be with him alone.¨
It isn´t the first time, she says, that she has worried about losing control of her children. During their 2004 divorce action, Elena says McMahan showed up hand in hand with Linda. ¨He wanted me to be deported to the Ukraine... She was with him. He wanted to take my kids and raise them with Linda.¨