Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Mary Cunningham Agee is lovingly known as the “Tomato Lady” in her tightknit community of St. Helena, California. She patiently grows heirlooms and graciously hands these out to neighbors along with an assortment of cabbage, cauliflower, and basil. Each side of her picturesque 4,000-square-foot home is lined with vineyards that are cultivated each season to produce twenty-five cases of a delightful pinot noir.
This sunshine-and-roses scene, while pretty on the surface, offers a pleasant, but shallow façade for Agee’s current troubles. Ms. Agee’s husband of 35 years, Richard Agee, a former CEO of Bendix and once considered to be a rising corporate star, died this past December. In the last few, mentally troubled weeks of his life, he revised his will to include his previously estranged children and initiated divorce proceeds against Ms. Agee. Due to these last-minute changes, her days are now filled with a contentious legal battle involving Mr. Agee’s children and a will that was arguably written while Mr. Agee was not of sound mind. This recent twist is but a single piece of a turbulent epic that stretches back nearly four decades, to what is arguably the first widely-followed sex scandal in corporate America.
See Amy Chozick, Before There Was #MeToo, There Was Mary Cunningham, The New York Times, February 10, 2018.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.