Shera Bechard Must Reveal to Michael Avenatti Why She Sued Him

Last week, as reported, former Playboy centerfold model Shera Bechard named Michael Avenatti—the media-friendly lawyer for AVN Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against Donald Trump—as a defendant in a lawsuit. But she and her lawyer, Peter Stris, refused to tell Avenatti why they were suing him.

At Bechard and Stris’s request, Judge Ruth Kwan in Los Angeles Superior Court ordered the suit placed under seal for at least 20 days, meaning that the contents of and reasons behind the lawsuit are being kept out of the public eye.

On Tuesday, however, Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige ordered that Bechard and Stris must send a complete copy of the lawsuit, with no redactions, to Avenatti enabling the lawyer to see exactly why he’s being sued.

At the same time, the judge refused Avenatti’s motion to unseal the suit, saying that even though Avenatti may now read the text of the document in full, he “may not disclose any of the contents of the complaint.”

Bechard filed the lawsuit just days after top Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy said that he would not make any more installment payments to Bechard on a $1.6 million deal over an affair he allegedly had with the former Playboy centerfold model, an affair that resulted in her pregnancy and abortion, which was supposedly funded by Broidy.

The hush-money deal was arranged by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, leading to speculation that Bechard did not, in fact, carry on her affair with Broidy—but with Trump himself.

Avenatti’s motion to unseal the lawsuit was accompanied on Tuesday by a similar motion by eight news media organizations, including The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, asking the judge to make the lawsuit public—as most court documents are.

“To seal it for 20 days, in my opinion, was a thoughtful and fair assessment of the situation that (Kwan) was confronted with,” Hiroshige said.

According to The New York Daily News, which cited “a source,” Bechard targeted Avenatti in the lawsuit because, “he posted a Twitter message April 12 that described her confidential deal with Broidy.”

That Twitter message read, “In last 18 mos, Mr. Cohen negotiated yet another hush NDA, this time on behalf of a prominent GOP donor who had a relationship with a LA woman, impregnated her and then made sure she had an abortion. The deal provided for multiple payments across many months.”

The Wall Street Journal wrote a report about the hush money deal the following day, and Stris has publicly accused Avenatti of leaking the story to the Journal. But Avenatti on Tuesday said, “I did nothing wrong.”

Avenatti allegedly received the information from Keith Davidson, who was Bechard’s previous lawyer and who also previously represented Daniels and Karen McDougal, another Playboy centerfold who said she had an affair with Trump, and received a hush money payment negotiated by Cohen—as did Daniels.

McDougal was later represented by Stris, who settled the lawsuit for her—saving Trump further legal headaches and personal embarrassment.

Shera Bechard, Wikimedia Commons; Michael Avenetti, MSNBC screen capture