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B.C. court orders figure skater to pay more than $150,000 to ‘trophy husband’

A figure skater performs a routine.

J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

A former world-class figure skater, model and wealthy widow has been ordered by a British Columbia court to pay her "trophy husband" more than $157,000 in support after a 14-year relationship.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Randall Wong ruled in a decision posted online Tuesday that 66-year-old Gordon Walker was the spouse of 86-year-old Valerie Fortune Brown and is entitled to support as a result.

Before the relationship, Mr. Walker lived on welfare or was periodically employed, but then became a "kept man" and "economically dependent," with Ms. Brown covering all of his living expenses and luxuries, including about 60 trips to destinations around the world, said the court ruling.

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"Now at 66 years of age, with a long-time economic dependency, the breakup of their relationship has caused Mr. Walker to be economically disadvantaged in terms of what he had been accustomed," said Judge Wong. "His future job prospects are extremely limited."

In addition to the $157,000, Judge Wong ordered Ms. Brown to pay Mr. Walker interest dating back to Jan. 1, 2012, but also issued a permanent restraining order because of letters the man wrote to Ms. Brown's legal counsel, threatening to write his memoirs about the couple's sexual experiences.

Ms. Brown had argued Mr. Walker was just a platonic live-in friend, a domestic male security escort and travelling companion, as well as a "heavy luggage porter."

Citing Mr. Walker's "reprehensible conduct," Judge Wong also deprived the man of his court costs, which normally would have been granted.

The court heard Ms. Brown was raised in England, educated in a private girls' school, became a world-class figure skater and a model for art sculptures before she married twice.

After her second husband died in 1994, Ms. Brown was left with an estate of nearly $8-million that included investments, property and retirement income.

Meantime, Judge Wong described Mr. Walker as a Grade 12 graduate and former bookkeeper, clerk, dispatcher and sales executive.

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The two met in June, 1997, at a federal polling station on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, and within days she was helping him find work, buying him lunch, food hampers and even a $120 pen.

By September of that year, Ms. Brown invited Mr. Walker to move into her home, states Judge Wong's ruling, and that same month she gave him money to buy a new home that both were supposed to inhabit but didn't.

The court also heard that during the relationship, Ms. Brown bought Mr. Walker a $10,000 Rolex watch, a new Lexus SUV and opened several joint bank accounts to cover expenses.

"Ms. Brown even underwent cosmetic facelift surgery to remove facial wrinkles and furrow on her forehead," wrote Judge Wong. "This was done despite Mr. Walker's concern and objection, reassuring her that she looked beautiful to him."

Judge Wong said the couple never married, and maintained separate bedrooms but shared hotel and ship-cabin rooms with twin beds during their travels.

Mr. Walker even signed a residency agreement in August, 1998, after Mr. Brown had returned from a trip to eastern Canada to visit her children.

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"In their 14-year relationship, the claimant [Mr. Walker] regarded himself as a 'kept man' and a 'trophy husband,' " wrote Judge Wong, who noted Mr. Walker became more assertive in the relationship, pestered Ms. Brown for partial ownership of her assets and frequently asked her to marry him unsuccessfully.

Judge Wong said Ms. Brown eventually became disillusioned with Mr. Walker and concerned he was abusing his credit cards for cash advances and personal use and was secretly withdrawing funds from their joint bank account.

"She felt she could no longer trust him," Judge Wong said. "She was also concerned with protecting her adult children's potential inheritance, if Mr. Walker continued to aggressively press for a greater share of her holdings."

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