The High Court yesterday granted former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga a divorce and annulled his nine year old marriage to Prof Bervely Michele Lax. High Court judge Justice G B M Kariuki annulled the marriage on grounds of cruelty. The CJ had filed for divorce on December 16, 2009. On May 13, 2010, Lax filed an answer to his petition and a cross-petition for divorce.
The allegations of cruelty made by Prof Lax in her cross-petition were dismissed. Mutunga has been married twice before. He has two children with his first wife and one child each with two other different women. The CJ married Prof Lax in San Mateo, California on July 20, 2000.The CJ in his petition accused Prof Lax of treating him with “cruelty” since they got married. He indicated that she both physically and verbally assaulted him.
He claimed that Prof Lax was a person of ‘ungoverned temper’ and on various occasions during the course of the marriage, she had physically and verbally assaulted him. Mutunga also claimed that during the duration of their marriage, Prof Lax had persisted in calling his ex-wife, their son and daughter “parasites’ when she knew that such name calling caused him immense pain and torture.
Mutunga claimed that Prof Lax continued to abuse his sons even though he made it clear to her that the only relationship he had with their mothers was only to provide them with maintenance and child support. Mutunga also accused Lax of destroying his academic thesis on “landlord tenant relationships in Kenya.” Prof Lax is alleged to have torn the only copy of Mutunga’s Masters in Law thesis in 2003.
Mutunga alleged Prof Lax destroyed his thesis with the sole intention of causing him psychological, emotional and intellectual pain. In her petition, Prof Lax denied some of Mutunga’s allegations and accused him of being a “pathological liar”. She admitted that she tore Mutunga’s thesis but claimed she did this as he had provoked her. She says she regretted having destroyed the thesis.
She denied she had an “ungoverned temper” but said that the couple had arguments, which were normal in any relationship but which did not amount to assault”. She further accused Mutunga of having a ‘violent and uncaring attitude’ towards her. She alleged the CJ had concealed from her the financial assistance he was giving to his children and that he “kept an open relationship with his former wife”. She also accused Mutunga of denying her conjugal rights and failing to visit her when she was admitted in hospital in New York.