RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s state House speaker is being sued by a local elected official who alleges the powerful Republican ruined his marriage by having an affair with his wife.
Lawyers for Scott Lassiter claim that for more than three years Speaker Tim Moore “willfully interfered in the marital relationship” between Lassiter and his wife, who leads an agency within the state courts system.
Moore has rejected Lassiter’s claims. Moore, who has been elected to five terms in the job since 2015, is the state’s longest serving House speaker.
Lassiter wants at least $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against Moore and another unidentified man whom Lassiter said conspired with Moore in recent weeks to install a camera outside Lassiter’s suburban Raleigh home.
Moore used his position as “one of the most powerful elected officials in North Carolina to entice Plaintiff’s wife ... in an illicit relationship with him,” says the lawsuit filed over the weekend in Wake County Superior Court.
Lassiter’ lawsuit alleges that his wife, Jamie Liles Lassiter, wouldn’t end her relationship with Moore for fear of losing her job — leading to their separation in January after more than nine years of marriage.
In a statement, Moore said it was “a baseless lawsuit from a troubled individual. We will vigorously defend this action and pursue all available legal remedies.”
Jamie Lassiter is executive director of the North Carolina Conference of Clerks of Superior Court. She called the lawsuit “outrageous and defamatory” and said her husband is “lashing out” at the end of their divorce proceedings.
“The claims are not only false but impossible as we’ve been separated with a signed separation document for years,” she said in a news release from her attorney. “I’m a strong professional woman, and the only person who has ever abused me or threatened my career was my soon to be ex-husband.”
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that still allow lawsuits by jilted spouses seeking damages from a cheating spouse’s lover under claims of alienation of affection and criminal conversation — also known as adultery. These and other claims are in Lassiter’s lawsuit, which alleged Moore “willfully pursued a sexual relationship” and “with reckless disregard of the destruction he was causing” to the marriage.
Lassiter, an assistant principal in the Wake County school system, is a former Apex town council member and current elected member of the little-known county soil and water conservation board. The Republican ran briefly for a state House seat last year before he suspended his campaign when districts were redrawn.
“The complaint speaks for itself,” Lassiter attorney Alicia Jurney wrote in an email Monday in response to the denials from Moore and Lassiter’s wife. “There is irrefutable evidence to support Mr. Lassiter’s claims.”
According to the lawsuit, Lassiter conducted surveillance in December of his wife and obtained evidence of her and Moore having dinner in Raleigh and spending several hours together.
The lawsuit says his wife confessed to the affair, and a few days later Moore admitted to the relationship when he and Lassiter met at a Raleigh breakfast eatery. The Lassiters separated a couple of weeks later, the lawsuit says.
The N.C. Conference of Clerks of Superior Court is designed to help the elected clerks in all 100 counties carry out their duties.
Moore, who is divorced with two adult sons, is himself a lawyer and has represented a region just west of Charlotte for 20 years. He wasn’t at the dais on the House floor when the chamber held an administrative session Tuesday morning. Floor votes are expected Wednesday. The General Assembly is in the anticipated final weeks of its chief annual work session.