Longform

Daddy's Girl

Page 3 of 8

McMahan spends part of the year at his estate on Fisher Island, an exclusive enclave reached from Miami only by helicopter, boat, or a private ferry. The man-made island, once owned in part by Richard M. Nixon, has a population of about 500 and is in a ZIP code that the 2000 census found had the highest per capita income in the country.

While his finances ballooned, McMahan's family also grew large. He'd had six children by three women and was married to his fourth wife when, in 1990, he learned for the first time that he was the father of a grown child he didn't know existed.

Linda Marie Hodge, by all accounts, had a normal, Southern California upbringing with her adoptive parents, Laird and Mary Hodge. When she was 5, the Hodges told her she was adopted. At 18, Linda employed a service to help her find her birth parents.

Three years later and only about 30 miles away, she found her biological mother in Escondido, California.

She wrote to Myra Westphall, telling her that she was healthy and wanted to find out about her heritage. Westphall eventually answered the letter with a phone call. "It was an emotional conversation that led to our meeting," Linda testified in her deposition.

Westphall told Linda that in 1968, she'd had a fling with McMahan while both were living in Southern California. When McMahan married second wife Melinda Ewell on January 3, 1969, Westphall was already pregnant. She gave birth to Linda five months later, on May 29, 1969.

Westphall, who tells New Times she's now in the publishing business, did not want to discuss her relationship with McMahan or her daughter. "I'm just the biological mother," she says. "She has a mother. I gave her up for adoption at birth."

In 1990, though, Westphall did help Linda locate her father. At the time, Linda was a 21-year-old sophomore psychology major at San Diego State University. One day, McMahan telephoned her. She assumed Westphall had given him the number.



In her deposition, Linda described this telephone call as another emotional one. McMahan told his daughter what he did for a living and said he wanted to meet her. When they met, he also asked her to take a paternity test, saying his lawyers were insisting on it. He got the confirmation — with 99.7 percent certainty — that he was seeking.

It was then that McMahan took Linda into the family fold. He helped pay her tuition, set up a trust fund for her, and began including her in family holiday celebrations. He added her name to his list of children in his professional biographies.

Eight years into their relationship, Linda was about to earn her PhD in psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego.

That's when McMahan had Linda over to his New York home and asked her to watch the first half hour of Braveheart.




That same spring, in 1998, Linda began dating a man named Sargent Schutt whom she met at a party in San Diego. In only a few months, the relationship had become serious. But that summer, she accepted her father's invitation to fly to London on a business trip.

They stayed in the Sheraton Belgravia for a week. In her April deposition, she described the trip. After their arrival, she testified, a discussion about how Linda could help him with business turned personal as the two sipped wine. He told her he was disappointed in her career choice in psychology.

"He offered me an opportunity for business that would incorporate my interest in brain studies with his interest in psychic phenomena," she testified.

They were still jet-lagged from their trip, so McMahan suggested they take a nap. When she woke up, "he was touching my leg and becoming physical with me." Later in the week, the two had sexual intercourse for the first time, she testified.

After the trip, according to e-mails submitted in court documents, they mailed each other vibrators. Referring to one he sent his daughter, McMahan e-mailed her on September 10, 1998: "I unpacked the toys and checked them out. The thing excites me just looking at it. I promise you have never seen anything like it. Interestingly 'it' is actually smaller than I am! But what moves! I should have been so lucky. They are now packed into their own bag and I am going to make sure we have enough AA batteries to last for the duration."

At the same time that Linda and her father swapped sex toys, her relationship with Schutt continued to deepen.

McMahan wasn't thrilled: "I know you like him. Even though I am truly jealous, I am hardly in position to interfere or even really want to interfere with that part of your life. Don't lock him out if he is important to you. Kisses everywhere," he wrote in an e-mail dated August 15, 1998.

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Kelly Cramer