Daddy's Girl

A local millionaire learns a valuable lesson: Don't sleep with your daughter and then sue her

Westphall, who tells New Times she's now in the publishing business, did not want to discuss her relationship with Bruce 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 the University of San Diego. One day McMahan telephoned her. She assumed Westphall had given him the number.

In her deposition, Linda described this phone call as another emotional one. Bruce 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 received the confirmation — with 99.7 percent certainty — he was seeking.

Bruce and Linda in Paris in an undated photo
Bruce and Linda in Paris in an undated photo
The photo of Bruce's hand on Linda's, with their wedding 
rings, that they titled "Says it ALL"
The photo of Bruce's hand on Linda's, with their wedding rings, that they titled "Says it ALL"

It was then that Bruce 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 Bruce 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 at 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 Bruce 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, Bruce 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 öit' 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 Linda and her father swapped sex toys, her relationship with Schutt continued to deepen.

Bruce 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.

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."

Bruce, 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 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, Bruce 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, öThis is the beginning of the end. '"

Bruce was no doubt cribbing from Churchill's line from a speech he gave in 1942 at a turning point in World War II: "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 Bruce never explained what he meant by it.

Bruce moved on, beginning a new romance with a Ukrainian woman who eventually became his fifth wife. And he provided his daughter employment. He named Linda president and CEO of McMahan Center for Human Abilities, a nonprofit foundation he had created to extend the efforts of his primary charity, the National Cristina Foundation, which provides computers to disabled children. It 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.

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