LOS ANGELES — Only the defendants named in a lawsuit filed by a former Playboy model against a top fundraiser for President Donald Trump and others are entitled to receive copies of the sealed case, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Shera Bechard filed the lawsuit last week against the fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, her former attorney Keith Davidson, and Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti.
Last spring, Broidy disclosed he and Bechard had an affair and he agreed to pay her $1.6 million as part of a confidentiality agreement.
In requesting the seal, Bechard's attorneys cited a Wall Street Journal story that said Broidy had stopped making payments because Davidson had discussed details of the confidentiality agreement with Avenatti. A judge conditionally sealed the complaint for 20 days last Friday.
Avenatti said he was never served with the lawsuit and filed a motion asking Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige to compel Bechard's attorneys to provide him with a copy. Seven news organizations, including The Associated Press, also petitioned to unseal the lawsuit.
The judge partially granted Avenatti's motion, but rejected the media requests, saying the original sealing order for 20 days was "reasonable." He said the lawsuit would be automatically unsealed after 20 days, unless any other requests are made seeking to keep it sealed.
Outside the courtroom, Avenatti said that Davidson — who had previously represented Daniels — had volunteered information about Bechard's agreement in April.
"He told me he had a client in Los Angeles impregnated by what Mr. Davidson described as wealthy GOP donor," Avenatti said.
Davidson claimed that he contacted Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to ask if he knew the Republican donor and Cohen later indicated he was going to represent the donor, Avenatti said.
Daniels is suing Trump over a confidentiality agreement that Cohen negotiated days before the 2016 presidential election regarding an alleged 2006 affair that Trump denies.
Bechard's attorney, Victor O'Connell, declined to comment on Avenatti's statements.
"With each passing day in connection with this matter and Mr. Cohen's involvement, the cesspool of deceit and lies and cover-up grows deeper and wider," Avenatti said.