Daddy's Girl

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That winter, Linda and Schutt became engaged. But the sexual relationship with her father didn't stop. She continued to sleep with her father through the end of summer 1999 and "up until" her October wedding to Schutt, she testified. Then, with the ceremony approaching, Linda ended the sex with her dad.

"I was in love with my fiancé... I was deeply disturbed with the relationship with my father."

McMahan, she said, reacted with "anger, withdrawal, paranoia."

He asked her what she wanted, what her "perfect life" would be.

"I told him that I would like to live in Sausalito, California. I would like to have a Saab convertible. I would like to have a dog named Pooh, and a sailboat."

She testified that her father answered that he could give her all of those things and financial security for life. But Schutt, he told her, probably couldn't provide that kind of life.

The argument didn't persuade her. Linda and Schutt married on October 2, 1999, in Sonoma. During the event, McMahan gave the couple a toast.

"He made an attempt to quote Winston Churchill... He told all the guests during his toast at my wedding that, 'This is the beginning of the end. '"

McMahan was no doubt cribbing from Churchill's line from a speech he gave in 1942 at a turning point in WWII: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Linda said that McMahan never explained what he meant by it.

McMahan moved on, starting a new romance with a Ukrainian woman who eventually became his fifth wife. And he did provide his daughter employment. He named Linda president and CEO of McMahan Center for Human Abilities, a nonprofit foundation McMahan had created to extend the efforts of his primary charity, the National Cristina Foundation, which provides computers to disabled children and is named after another of his daughters, who has cerebral palsy. Linda was being paid $10,000 a month to run the foundation in the spring of 2002 when family members gathered to have dinner in a Sonoma restaurant.

Linda testified that she was asked in front of the others when she and Schutt planned to have children. "Soon," she replied.

The next day, McMahan asked to meet her in the lobby of a hotel. When she arrived, carrying paperwork for the McMahan Center, she began to speak with him about ideas for the foundation. But he became enraged.

"His face became red. He clenched his fists, and he raised his voice... He told me that having children was not part of the plan."

McMahan told her he was ending the foundation and no longer planned to pay her. (He did cut her off, but the foundation still exists.)

"He told me that I was not able to have children and be committed to the project," she testified.

She returned to her career in psychology and accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Mississippi. She and Schutt moved to suburban Jackson. She and McMahan didn't speak for months. Then, on May 25, 2003, Linda's adoptive father, Laird Hodge, a retired government contractor, died in San Diego. Linda and Schutt traveled to the funeral in La Mesa, California. McMahan sent flowers and e-mailed Linda his condolences, but they still didn't speak.

The stress of losing both fathers — Hodge to death, McMahan to indifference — weighed on Linda, she testified. It also wrecked her health. From McMahan, she'd inherited a genetic condition called Reiter's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the soft tissues and can affect the eyes and, more seriously, the heart. Linda had a bad flare-up and developed cataracts in both eyes.

"I became very ill. I was experiencing heart problems and the doctors at the University [of Mississippi] Medical Center indicated to me that I would need surgery on my heart," she testified.

McMahan sent one of his two private planes to ferry her from her home in Mississippi to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The treatments she received there helped, and she began to recover. Her father insisted that she come to Fisher Island to recuperate so she would have access to a spa and to the Argent Center, a posh retreat McMahan had built to entertain his family and his billionaire clients. McMahan, she testified, didn't want her to go back to Mississippi or her marriage. He wanted her to leave behind the fellowship in clinical and rehabilitative neuropsychology, and he persuaded her to come back to work for him.

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Kelly Cramer