South Carolina family court judge Dorothy Mobley Jones has issued a belated ruling in connection with a high-profile divorce case that we believe represents next great reality television drama to emanate from the Palmetto State.
Assuming its details ever come to light …
We’re referring of course to #TheMcGills – an ongoing Palmetto political soap opera that appears to have some interesting proximities to Southern Charm, the hit Charleston, S.C.-based reality show that airs on Bravo TV. The case also has some interesting proximities to public dollars … and public officials, we’re told.
According to our sources, Jones is refusing to unseal the case files in this Doe vs. Doe divorce/ custody battle. Her stated rationale? The best interests of the three minor children of Palmetto political scion John McGill (son of former S.C. lieutenant governor Yancey McGill) and his estranged wife Jenny McGill (a business consultant and the niece of U.S. district court judge Terry Wooten).
We are told her ruling also referenced the need to protect the couple’s shared business interests from “professional harm.”
One lawyer whose confidential analysis of the ruling was provided to this news outlet called that reference “a little weird.”
“Seems like (a) bad attempt at using (the) interests of children to protect non-custodial parents’ professional interests,” the attorney surmised.
We agree …
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#TheMcGills have been generating headlines since late March, when this news outlet exclusively reported on a bizarre domestic incident that took place nine months ago at the couple’s home in the upscale King’s Grant neighborhood of Columbia, S.C.
In the early morning hours of January 27, John McGill – ostensibly under the influence of laced cocaine – called officers from the city of Columbia, S.C. police department to his home in response to “a possible home invasion.”
There was no home invasion, though. McGill apparently hallucinated the whole thing. He also appears to have hallucinated a second attempted home invasion just sixteen hours later – during which he “unloaded” his handgun on the phantom assailants.
“They got close and I just unloaded,” McGill told a police dispatcher during the second incident, adding “I’ve got 24 magazines to go.”
Police searched the residence after both reported home invasions and found nothing.
McGill claimed the drugs he took were a “gift” from 24-year-old Alexia Cortez, a Columbia, S.C.-based political operative who was a contract employee of both McGill’s consulting firm and Yancey McGill’s gubernatorial campaign. Cortez has denied these reports, however.
The two hallucinated home invasion incidents led Jenny McGill to file for divorce, setting off a contentious battle between the 33-year-old strategist (below) and her 39-year-old husband – who served for years as a top advisor to former S.C. lieutenant governor André Bauer.
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This news outlet first took an interest in this case when we realized its files had been sealed – a courtesy that is not afforded to the vast majority of South Carolina couples who find themselves going through contentious divorces.
Given our long-standing opposition to such anti-transparent practices, we have been calling on Jones to unseal these files.
“Prominent politicos in the Palmetto State should not be allowed to have their dirty laundry hidden from public view when that courtesy is not afforded to the rest of us,” we wrote back in July. “Especially not if public contracts and alleged threats involving public officials are buried within that laundry.”
Jones is still refusing to unseal the files, however.
According to our sources, in addition to citing the “best interests” of the three minor children her ruling went on to cite “potential professional harm” to the parties and to their shared “business” – which is at the center of this tug-of-war given the extensive contracts it has with various state governmental entities.
Do we buy the judge’s excuse? Not for a second …
In fact, we are beginning to think there may be something to a “potential conflict” we identified with respect to Jones’ handling of this case – something we alluded to last month in our most recent coverage of #TheMcGills.
Stay tuned for more on that …
A copy of Jones’ belated ruling was not immediately available to this news outlet because the document is under lock and key at the Richland County court house in downtown Columbia, S.C. – along with the rest of #TheMcGills case files. However, several sources familiar with the case confirmed that Jones rejected a motion from Jenny McGill’s attorneys to open the documents to the public.
We are also told the judge apologized to both parties for her lengthy delay in issuing a ruling, reportedly saying the case “just fell through the cracks.”
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In addition to its impact on the Palmetto political scene, this case has a potential Hollywood connection. Four months ago – in one of our many updates related to this saga – we reported that one of the witnesses being sought in connection to #TheMcGills had ties to Southern Charm, which has been all over the headlines this year owing to multiple allegations of sexual assault against its star, Thomas Ravenel.
That witness – 30-year-old Tessa Cameron McCarley (a.k.a. Tessa Harris) – spoke publicly on the matter in late July, chiding the media for “taking a little truth and stirring up lies for a gossip column.”
“You’re spreading hate and drama creating a southern soap opera and you’re not getting paid for this,” she wrote on her Facebook page, slamming what she referred to as the “desperate idiots of Carolina.”
McCarley – a transexual female – is reportedly all over the sealed case files.
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Attorneys with ties to various Southern Charm cases have told us they are very eager to see what McCarley might say in the event she is deposed in connection with this case.
According to our sources, an extensive trove of documents and other information related to McCarley has reportedly been gathered by attorneys for both McGills – evidence that reportedly includes “photographs, recordings of phone calls, text messages, financial documentation and related information.”
Within that trove are “multiple bombshells,” we are told.
“You’ll be able to write a book,” one of our confidential sources told us.
Perhaps, but there is a fundamental issue of fairness to consider here. Whatever secrets are contained in these files … they shouldn’t stay secret. Not for #TheMcGills … not for anyone.
Jones needs to reconsider her ruling and open these files up for public inspection. It is wrong to keep public documents hidden from public view, especially when public money is involved.
What do you think? Should #TheMcGills case file be opened to the public or remain under Jones’ seal? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below.
Should #TheMcGills case files be opened or remain under seal?
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