- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Yoko Ono testified yesterday against a former personal assistant in federal court, saying he was sworn to secrecy about her life with John Lennon.
After the birth of the couple's only son, Sean, in 1975, the Lennons "decided we wanted to keep our private life very private," Miss Ono testified in her lawsuit against Frederic Seaman.
Mr. Seaman repeatedly was reminded "that it was very important that he not give out any information about our whereabouts," she said as Sean Lennon listened from the audience.
Miss Ono, 69, sued Mr. Seaman in 1999, demanding that he surrender the rights to 374 photos he took of Mr. Lennon, and turn over about $75,000 in profits from the sale of the rock legend's manuscripts and revealing letters.
The copyright case is the latest round of a two-decade feud that followed Mr. Lennon's murder outside his Central Park West apartment building in 1980.
The lawsuit against Mr. Seaman "is about how John and Yoko put their trust in Mr. Seaman's hands, and how he betrayed that trust," Miss Ono's attorney, Paul LiCalsi, said in his opening statement.
Mr. LiCalsi told jurors that Miss Ono dismissed the assistant in 1981, unaware he had been looting Mr. Lennon's files. In 1983, Mr. Seaman pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny for stealing Mr. Lennon's diaries. He was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to return all the property.
"When he claimed he'd give everything back, he lied," the lawyer said.
Defense attorney Glenn Wolther, who gave his opening statement yesterday, has said his client denies any wrongdoing, including an accusation that he violated a confidentiality agreement by talking about Mr. Lennon's personal life in print.
"We have serious concerns about any attempt to restrict Mr. Seaman's right to free speech," the lawyer said.
Miss Ono said Mr. Seaman signed a confidentiality pact when he was hired in 1979 to work for the Lennons. His duties included caring for Sean and taking photos at family events, the lawsuit said.
Mr. Seaman, 49, has argued that he took the 374 photos on his own time and with his own camera making him the rightful owner.
Dressed in black, Miss Ono was demure when asked about her husband's career.
"He was a member of a band called the Beatles," she said. "He was also a good songwriter, singer and guitarist."
Miss Ono, who seeks unspecified damages, returns to the witness stand today.

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