Judge Appears to Side With Redstone in Mental Competency Case

Media Mogul Testifies He Kicked Ex-Girlfriend Out Over Theft, Deceit

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Sumner Redstone testified that he kicked his ex-girlfriend -- a woman responsible for his healthcare decisions -- out of his mansion because she stole his money and lied to him. The judge hearing Redstone's mental competency case appeared to side with the aging media mogul.

Redstone, 92, the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom, used profanities to describe Manuela Herzer in recorded testimony for a trial that began Friday. He said he wanted her "out of my life," according to a transcript, and indicated he wanted his daughter Shari to make his health-care decisions instead.

After hearing the testimony, given by Redstone with the help of an interpreter, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan gave the court a sense of how he's likely to rule.

"He told me now, as best as he can, what he wants," Cowan said to Herzer's attorney Pierce O'Donnell. "That's strong evidence. I want to know why this testimony should not be respected. Your burden is a hard one."

Redstone's testimony was played for the judge at the opening of a trial to determine whether he was mentally competent when he threw Herzer out of his home in October and ended her oversight of his medical care. Besides exposing his frailty, including difficulty speaking and eating, the case spotlights Redstone's fraught relations with his family and the millions he's lavished on women around him.

The verdict could set in motion a chain of events in which Redstone loses control of Viacom and CBS, media giants worth $42 billion. While Redstone stepped down as chairman of both in February, he still holds majority voting rights through a family holding company, National Amusements. If he's found incompetent, NAI's board, including his daughter Shari Redstone and Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman, might step in.

The parade of witnesses set to testify about Redstone's mental health and the alleged plotting and scheming by those around him include ex-girlfriends, geriatric psychiatrists and Redstone's own nurses. Others will include Shari, with whom he has had a rocky relationship; a granddaughter who claims Redstone needs court protection from his own daughter; and Dauman.

-- Bloomberg News

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