LOS ANGELES -- Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner Wednesday filed a counter-suit against former live-in girlfriend Carrie Leigh, accusing her of infidelity and of entering a relationship with him for money instead of love.
In announcing the counter-suit, Hefner told a news conference at his Holmby Hills mansion he would seek legal sanctions against Leigh's lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson, for filing a $35 million palimony suit against him on her behalf.
Hefner called Leigh's suit 'an orchestrated publicity stunt ... to maintain Mitchelson in the public eye, thereby increasing his ability to attract new celebrity clients.'
Mitchelson denied the accusation and called Hefner a 'woman dehumanizer.'
Hefner's counter-suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks at least $1 million in general damages or the return of all money and gifts he gave to Leigh during the nearly five years the couple lived together before separating in January. It also seeks unspecified punitive damages and legal fees.
Leigh, 24, a former Canadian model, sued Hefner last month in Superior Court for fraud, claiming he broke promises to marry her, buy her a house in Malibu and have children by her.
She also claimed Hefner promised to pay her an annual sum equal to her age multiplied by $1,000, plus $5,000 a month, during the time they were together.
Hefner has denied making those promises.
Leigh last month amended the $5 million suit, seeking an additional $10 million in general damages and $20 million in punitive damages, which were 'to dissuade (Hefner) from maintaining his long enjoyed practice of seducing teenage girls, supporting them for a few years, then discarding them.'
Hefner, 61, said he has evidence, which he would not discuss in detail, that showed Leigh stayed with him for his money and had been sexually unfaithful to him several times.
'The last month has been a revelation,' said Hefner, who was joined at the news conference by his lawyer, Anthony Glassman, and his latest live-in girlfriend, Kimberley Conrad, 25, who was Playboy's January centerfold. She moved in with Hefner about two weeks after his breakup with Leigh.
Hefner promised to pursue his counter-suit and not agree to an out-of-court settlement. He also said he would file a 'malicious prosecution' suit against Mitchelson after the counter-suit is tried.
'I want to put a stop to what Mitchelson is doing,' Hefner said. 'You're talking about criminal misuse of the judicial system for a quasi-legal attempted extortion and (for) celebrity.
'It is very obvious there has been an intention to frighten me in terms of the notion that somehow or another I wouldn't want to be in a courtroom relating my personal life.'
In a telephone interview from Paris, Mitchelson denied Hefner's allegations.
'Not only is he a male chauvinist, he's an Indian giver,' Mitchelson said. 'Hugh Hefner is a woman dehumanizer.'
Mitchelson set legal precedent by winning a 1977 palimony suit filed by singer Michelle Triola against actor Lee Marvin. The couple had lived together for seven years.