Retiring North Carolina State Senator Rick Gunn, who represents Mebane and Alamance County in N.C. Senate District 24, is the subject of an alienation of affection lawsuit filed against him by a man who suggests Gunn broke up his marriage.
North Carolina is one of a handful of states around the country with alienation of affection laws, which allows a spouse to sue another party based on the grounds that their willful actions resulted in damages, such as the dissolution of a relationship or marriage, destruction of parental relationships, as well as other considerations such as property and financial investments.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Wake County by Attorney Richard B. Gantt on behalf of Arthur Johns, alleges that Senator Gunn engaged in an extramarital affair with Johns’ wife Karen, resulting in their divorce. The actual wording in the lawsuit states that “upon information and belief, Defendant had actual knowledge that Wife was married to Plaintiff and nevertheless pursued a romantic and sexual relationship with Plaintiff’s Wife.”
In Johns’ alienation of affection claim in the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that Gunn “wrongfully and maliciously deprived the Plaintiff of the warmth, companionship, society, contributions, and services of his Wife, without regard for the well-being of Plaintiff’s marriage and family.”
The lawsuit indicates that beginning in 2016 and continuing through the separation of Johns and his wife in the summer of 2019, Gunn “began and continued a pattern of conduct whereby he interfered with the loving marital relationship that existed between Plaintiff and Wife, and his behavior and affections subsequently induced Wife to dissolve the marital relationship.”
It goes on to lay out that Gunn engaged in a romantic and personal relationship with Johns’ wife prior to their separation, that Gunn encouraged Johns’ wife to spend “large amounts of time” in his company, “to communicate with him immediately and almost constantly via text and phone,” and “to travel with him with no one else present.”
Additional allegations against Gunn and his wife include “extended time alone” in Burlington, Raleigh, and Asheboro, with Johns’ lawsuit alleging that “many such instances involved intimate and romantic relations, including illicit sexual behavior.” The lawsuit contends that Karen Johns and Rick Gunn attended numerous social functions together in which Arthur Johns was not invited, and to which Johns and Gunn didn’t actually attend.
Just before the Johns separated last summer, Arthur Johns suggests that his wife and Gunn were spending more time with each other than Johns was spending with her, and he “in essence, became an afterthought and was left taking whatever was left of Wife’s time and energy after Defendant had already consumed the best of it. By the time the parties separated, Wife was treating Defendant more like a husband than she was treating Plaintiff.”
Arthur Johns indicates that he has suffered damages of at least $30,000 and upon information and belief may be in excess of $1 million. He is asking for between $30,000 and $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages, recovery of attorney’s fees, along with a trial by jury.
Johns’ lawsuit adds that as a result of Gunn’s actions in destroying his marriage, he was caused to seek and engage in therapy, that he has suffered emotional distress, humiliation and shame, lost wages, attorney’s fees, and other damages. The lawsuit adds that the co-parenting relationship that previously existed - the Johns had two biological children and Arthur Johns was considered a father to a third child, a biological child of Karen Johns - was destroyed as a result of the actions of Gunn.
Gunn, who served as the Mebane area’s State Senator in District 24 for a decade and was elected Majority Whip, announced last fall that he was retiring from public service after a decade in Raleigh. His retirement announcement came several weeks after the Johns split up and began divorce proceedings.
“The time has come my friends. It could not have been more of an honor to serve citizens in District 24 and the State of North Carolina over the last 10 years,” State Senator Gunn said on Twitter the afternoon of November 20, 2019.