Journey guitarist sues ex-mother-in-law, former Waseca mayor, for libel

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 19, 2013 - 10:28 PM

The former mayor of Waseca blames tabloids for misconstruing her blog posts.

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FILE, August 1999 -- Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon performs at the State Fair in St. Paul.

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Journey guitarist Neal Schon filed a federal lawsuit Monday in Minneapolis accusing his ex-mother-in-law — former Waseca Mayor Judy Kozan — of libeling him in blog posts by suggesting that he has failed to support his ex-wife and their children.

Kozan, 63, denies ever mentioning Schon or her daughter in her blog postings. She blames a British tabloid for creating the controversy by concluding — incorrectly — that she considered her former son-in-law a deadbeat dad.

“I have never called him a deadbeat dad, and I have never accused him of not making his payments. He makes them religiously,” Kozan said Tuesday morning. “I don’t have money for an attorney so I don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with this. Is he thinking he’ll take my Social Security checks?”

Schon says in his lawsuit that Kozan “has attacked and harassed” him for years through Internet postings and media comments. The breaking point apparently was a Jan. 23 blog post in which Kozan describes an anonymous woman who filed for divorce from an equally anonymous “abusive man.” The London Daily Mail published a report based on her blog postings in February, stating that she had accused Schon of leaving her daughter so broke that she can’t buy food for their two daughters, yet he gave his current fiancée a $1 million engagement ring.

Kozan said she never spoke to the Daily Mail reporter who wrote the story. “I’d never even heard of the Daily Mail until this story hit,” she said.

More than $1.3M paid

The lawsuit notes that a Hennepin County family court judge found recently that Schon has exceeded his required payments to his ex-wife, Amber Schon, 33, of Excelsior, and their two school-age children.

Neal and Amber Schon were married in 2001 and divorced in 2007. It was his fourth marriage. He’s now engaged to Michaele Salahi, a reality star from “Real Housewives of D.C.,” who first gained notoriety by crashing a White House dinner in 2009.

Schon says in his lawsuit that he has paid his ex-wife Amber more than $1.3 million over the past five years. But she took him back to court alleging that he reneged on an agreement to extend her “spousal maintenance” payments for two more years while she completes studies for a teaching credential.

Judge Mary Vasaly denied her petition on Jan. 23, concluding that her financial difficulties were her own fault.

Amber Schon, a part-time model, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Augsburg College. She has eight classes remaining to earn a teaching certificate but cannot enroll because she is delinquent in her tuition payments, Vasaly wrote.

Amber Schon did not explain why she did not complete her education during the five-year maintenance agreement, which ended last year, or why she could not afford to pay for her classes.

In her petition, Amber Schon claimed monthly living expenses of $11,622. The court noted that the expenses include $4,094 to maintain the home and $5,617 in personal expenses. The latter includes annual expenses of $9,600 for eyeglasses, $9,600 for birthday parties, $7,200 for clothing, $6,000 for a car, $5,760 for a storage locker and $2,400 for postage.

“These amounts are solely for her own needs and are plainly excessive,” Vasaly wrote.

Amber Schon could not be reached immediately for comment.

Wants comments barred

Neal Schon’s gripe with Kozan relates to a blog posting in which she said that the anonymous man he believes to be him has taken actions that will leave his two daughters homeless and “has put his ex in a situation where she literally has no money for food, gas for the car, bills, nothing.”

Schon alleges that Kozan’s postings defamed him, that she acted with actual malice, and that she knew her blogs would be picked up by tabloid media.

He accuses her of invading his privacy and wants a court order barring her from publishing “malicious, disparaging and derogatory comments” about him or Salahi, plus unspecified monetary damage in excess of $75,000.

 

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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