Testimony reveals heavy toll on families

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Paula Vives talked about the fear and humiliation she has endured

By Carol A. Clark

Spouses took the stand Wednesday describing the impact the five-year clash between registered sex offender Ted Vives and community activist Linda Hull has had on their lives.


Paula Vives spoke of the fear and humiliation she has endured in the community and at work since marrying registered sex offender Thomas Edward (Ted) Vives a couple of years ago.

She told the jury she and Vives talked through his criminal past before they married.

“I felt that it was something that happened in the past, long ago and I think he’s dealt with it both in the court system and in counseling … I love him and I think he’s a different person than he was back then,” she said.

Paula estimated that she and Vives spend three out of four weeks of each month discussing the issue because of something said in the community or in the media or at work. She is employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Hull has reported Vives for assault and menacing and intimidating behavior. Paula told jurors one of her colleagues asked her if she was safe living with Vives.

The situation with Paula’s husband also affects picnics and social events at work, she said. Her group leader told her that she and her family were invited to a social event in the summer of 2007 but her husband was not, she said.

Robert Hull took the stand and testified that his wife has basically stopped going to the store and other public places alone as a result of her encounters with Vives.

He told jurors it has cost his family well over $100,000 to defend legally against Vives. That money has come from the family’s checking and savings accounts and the refinancing of their home. They’ve depleted all but $600 in his 401k retirement account.

“I firmly stand behind why Linda is doing it — it’s certainly the right thing to do and that’s all there is to it,” Hull said.

The Hulls’ teenage daughter also testified that besides Vives showing up at one of her musical concerts at the high school, he showed up alone one night without his son and sat down next to her at a Harry Potter movie at the Real Deal. He made comments during the movie apparently about the movie but she said she didn’t look at him.

Final witnesses also were called to the stand Wednesday including former Superintendent of Schools James Anderson who spoke briefly regarding school policies related to registered sex offenders. He explained that the district sends letters to local registered sex offenders at the beginning of each school year detailing procedures for them to go on campus or attend activities.

Former school board member Louie Janecky testified to receiving dozens of letters, e-mails and telephone calls from concerned community members about not only Vives, but also a registered sex offender who was working across the street from Los Alamos High School, as well as a registered sex offender hanging around school bus stops.

Former school board member Alison Beckman discussed the board’s development of an escort policy regarding registered sex offenders.

The jury watched a nearly hour-long deposition of local resident Marthe Sims on video. Sims detailed her experience with Hull at the Coffee Booth saying that Vives entered and got in Hull’s face in a menacing manner.

Vives filed suit against Hull in early 2008, charging her with intentional interference with contractual relations, infliction of emotional distress, false light invasion of privacy and malicious abuse of process for speaking out publicly and writing e-mails alerting people to his sex-offender status.

Hull filed a counterclaim in April 2008 charging Vives with malicious abuse of process, assault, injunctive relief and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Judge James Hall told defense attorney Paul Grace and plaintiff attorney Paul Mannick, following jury dismissal for the day, there has been just one other case in his entire career where he has allowed the claim of “emotional distress” because it is nearly impossible to prove.

Hall explained that emotional distress involves “conduct, which is utterly intolerable in a civilized society.”

“I think in this case there is a preponderance of evidence (one way or the other) and I will let the jury decide,” Hall said.

Hall will present jury instructions and hear closing arguments today before the five-man, one-woman jury goes into deliberation.