Johnston DA sues friend over affair with husband
Posted June 29, 2011
Smithfield, N.C. — Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle on Tuesday filed suit against a longtime friend, alleging the woman had an affair with Doyle's husband last year.
The "criminal conversation" lawsuit alleges that Christi Stem and Michael Doyle had sex several times in 2010. The relationship "caused the plaintiff to suffer great mental anguish, humiliation, injury to physical and emotional health and the loss of assistance and financial support of her spouse."
Criminal conversation differs from an alienation of affection lawsuit in that it's more of a strict liability claim. Susan Doyle needs only prove that her husband had sex with Stem while he and Doyle were married. In an alienation of affection claim, Doyle would have to prove Stem acted maliciously.
Susan Doyle is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit. She declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
Stem couldn't be reached Wednesday, but her husband, Jasper Stem, declined to comment.
According to court documents, the Stems and the Doyles are neighbors, and Christi Stem is godmother to the couple's two children.
Susan Doyle also alleges in court documents that she confided to Christi Stem, an attorney who specializes in family law, about her marital difficulties in recent years and that Stem agreed to mediate the problems for the Doyles.
Michael Doyle and Christi Stem exchanged racy text messages, and Stem even programmed her cellphone so calls and texts from Michael Doyle would appear under the heading "Office," court documents state.
Last year, Susan Doyle prosecuted Christi Stem's law partner, Lee Hatch, as part of a ticket-fixing scheme in Johnston County. Hatch is now serving a 3½-year prison sentence for obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy and altering official case records.