Daddy's Girl

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"I told him that I had given up opportunities based on his promises to me in the past," she testified. "And I told him that he wasn't to abandon his promise to me and that it was to be a strictly normal father and daughter relationship."

She accepted a position as executive vice president of marketing for two of her father's financial firms, Argent Funds Group LLC and McMahan Securities. But things didn't stay normal for long.

"It changed from a loving, supportive father caring for an ill, vulnerable daughter to a manipulative, contingency-based rewards/punishment relationship that created my dependence on him and gave him control and dominance over me," Linda testified. According to Linda's court complaint, McMahan again initiated an incestuous sexual relationship in April 2004 that lasted for more than a year.

In June, the couple flew to London with a twisted plan: to get married where the kings and queens of England are crowned.

We traveled to London for some business, and during that trip Bruce took me to the Westminster Abbey and we exchanged vows," Linda testified in her deposition.

Besides her testimony, there are the cheek-to-cheek photographs documenting this unusual ceremony.

There is little description in court records of how the couple made their ceremony happen in the very public church on June 23, 2004. Photographs inside the sanctuary are prohibited, so only the two of them would know if there was anything more to it than two well-dressed tourists walking up and performing a little ritual during visiting hours.

They took their photos with the garden of the Little Cloister as a backdrop. In one, they share a chaste kiss.

According to several people close to the litigation, a ceremony at Westminster Abbey made sense because McMahan, they say, is an Anglophile who counts among his heroes Adm. Lord Nelson, the British naval hero who died in the Battle of Trafalgar. Also, McMahan is said to believe that his genes are exemplary and saw in Linda the best match for his own superiority.

Four days after the ceremony, Linda wrote in an e-mail: "You asked me afterwards if I felt different. Near, I don't but at a distance, I do. I am glad about this and feel the insecurities slipping away."

In other e-mails, they began to sign off as "H" and "W," references to husband and wife. In one e-mail, dated June 29, 2004, McMahan wrote: "Miss you W. Think nasty things about you all the time." Linda answered a couple of hours later: "Mmm yeah, nasty is so good. You must have read my mind. What else can we say, we're H & W — that's the beauty."

"It is an attraction that's like no other," says Joe Soll, a New York psychologist and the only expert in the field he pioneered — genetic attraction.

Soll, who has no attachment to the McMahan litigation, has treated a half-dozen patients who had sexual intercourse with a close blood relative who had been separated early in life. An adoptee himself, Soll mediates group therapy sessions where hundreds of participants have talked openly about their physical desires for relatives they've recently reunited with.

"The dad is supposed to be the adult," Soll said. "He should have been responsible enough to say, well, wait. She got taken by something she had no awareness of."

McMahan seemed to be aware of the severity of their transgression.

"Such passions lead men straight to hell," he wrote in an e-mail to Linda titled "Midnight Musings" that was sent just after midnight on August 15, 1998.

Despite its dramatic location, however, McMahan and Linda's "wedding" in London wasn't legal. Each was married to another person at the time.

Linda's court filings claim that after the ceremony, McMahan wanted Sargent Schutt to play a diminished role in her life. He told Linda he'd start paying her "the big bucks" only if she could convince Schutt to sign a postnuptial agreement, which he did reluctantly.

"May you have all the money in the entire world to yourself," Schutt penned in a handwritten note he attached to the document. "Too bad love is earned not bought."

McMahan was thrilled.

"Good girl!" he wrote to Linda in an e-mail dated June 29, 2004, that was read into the record at Linda's deposition. "This will change how your life can be lived; thank God. Someday you will understand how truly important that document is to you.

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Kelly Cramer