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HARTFORD, CONN. — In one of the most cantankerous and costliest divorce battles in Connecticut history, the ex-wife of Meriden cosmeceutical magnate Dr. Nicholas Perricone has been kept off the television airwaves, but not out of newspaper tabloids. The saga’s latest chapter underscores the difficulty of getting warring spouses to abide by confidentiality agreements, and the courts’ increasing willingness to enforce them. Last December, when Nicholas Perricone got word that ex-wife, Madeleine, was to appear on ABC’s newsmagazine show “20/20,” he rushed to Bridgeport Superior Court. There, Judge Julia Dewey obligingly issued an ex parte cease-and-desist order commanding Madeleine Perricone from appearing on TV to discuss her divorce litigation. Dewey also “ordered that if [she] had already recorded such an interview she was to obtain all copies of the interview and prevent the broadcast of the interview,” wrote New Haven Superior Court Judge Stephen Frazzini in a subsequent restraining order issued last month. Dewey’s order was scheduled for a hearing the next day, but a statewide courthouse bomb scare postponed it until Dec. 5. The day before the hearing, the New York Post published an article based on interviews with Madeleine Perricone. It identified her ex-husband, the captain of a $50 million wrinkle cure empire, as “an ‘anti-aging guru … accused of being a cheat who has fits of rage and used human growth hormone’ and referred to Madeleine Perricone as ‘a manic clean freak who washed her daughter’s skin raw,’” Frazzini noted. “The only power I have left is to talk about this story,” Madeleine Perricone told the Post. About her brief stint as a call girl a year before she began dating Perricone, she said, “Getting involved in this, having compliments and attention, it was an addiction.” Nicholas Perricone was on a TV tour of local public broadcasting stations, to promote his company, when the story hit, and it was followed by a segment on the Today Show. One station canceled his appearance due to the negative publicity, Frazzini wrote. The Post story revealed that Perricone, a weightlifter, admitted in court using the legal human growth hormone Genotropin for five years. In an argument in 2001 that started over how much protein his daughter had consumed that day, Nicholas Perricone broke off a piece of bed frame with his hand and “began to jab at me with the end,” his ex-wife told the Post, adding “the only thing that got him to stop was my threatening to call the police.” Nicholas Perricone testified at the divorce trial that his ex-wife scrubbed their daughter from head to toe with antiseptic wipes five to seven times a day. In his 17-page decision, Frazzini analyzed the integration clause of the couple’s separation agreement. It said “no prior written matter extrinsic to this Agreement shall have any force or effect … .” Madeleine Perricone contended that this freed her from the constraint of the Nov. 3, 2003, confidentiality agreement addressing material obtained during pretrial discovery. It said both parties “fully understand that the plaintiff and his business interests may be severely harmed by the public dissemination of defamatory or disparaging information related to the parties” and that neither would engage in such conduct. Madeleine Perricone argued that a restraining order and permanent injunction would abridge her First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Frazzini cited the 2005 state Supreme Court case of Rosado v. Bridgeport Diocesan and the divorce case of former General Electric CEO Jack Welch to rule that her claim that parties cannot contractually waive First Amendment rights had no merit. Although finding that the 2003 protective order was still in effect, the judge issued a cease-and-desist order against both parties, their lawyers or agents, from appearing on radio or television to reveal discovery material or derogatory information about the Perricones. He also ordered Madeleine Perricone to use her best efforts to obtain any materials disseminated in violation of the order. Thomas Scheffey is a reporter with the Connecticut Law Tribune , a Recorder affiliate.

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