CHICAGO: Actress Reese Witherspoon's mother has taken her father to court on bigamy charges and said she fears he is suffering from dementia after he wed a long-time girlfriend without obtaining a divorce.
Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon, who goes by Betty, said she learned of the illegal marriage after friends called and told her about a wedding announcement that was published in the Tennessean newspaper on April 22.
“When I confronted my husband, he said he didn't know who Tricianne Taylor was and that he did not remember getting married,” Witherspoon, 63, said in an affidavit filed Tuesday.
A Tennessee court issued a restraining order Wednesday prohibiting Taylor from using the last name Witherspoon, from attempting to obtain credit “posing as the wife of Dr. John Draper Witherspoon” and from obtaining any of his property.
The Witherspoons separated in 1996 when Betty moved out “because of my husband's alcoholism, infidelity, overspending and hoarding,” she said in the affidavit.
“I love my husband and do not want a divorce,” Betty Witherspoon said. “He needs help.”Betty Witherspoon said she learned from an investigator that Taylor “has gotten my husband to sign a new will” and has also “attempted to borrow money as Ms. John Witherspoon.”In addition to his problems with alcohol, hoarding, and spending, John Witherspoon suffers from depression and was recently let go from his medical practice, she said.
He is also diabetic, has heart disease and is “otherwise not in good health,” Betty Witherspoon wrote, adding he “could easily die through lack of medicine, or too much medicine or some other malicious act.”John Witherspoon, 70, tried bringing Taylor to his daughter's wedding in March 2011, but security refused to let her in because she wasn't on the guest list.
The wedding notice said the “intimate” ceremony for Witherspoon and Taylor was held at a private chalet in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on January 14 and that a celebration for friends and family was planned for the summer in Nashville.
“Cowboy boots and yellow roses accented the ambiance of the couple's Texas heritage,” the notice said, adding that Taylor, who is the former head of Action Designs, will continue her US Veteran Advocacy work.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for May 31 at 9:00 am at the Davidson County court.