By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
"He had as much as said that he wasn't really in love with her," Crozier says. "I tried to talk her out of marrying him. I sat there on her mother's couch, with her on the floor and him right alongside of me and I said, 'Robin, how could you possibly want to throw your life away marrying a jerk like this?' She just said, 'Dad, because I love him.' Hey. What am I going to do?"
Though he will not discuss it in detail, Okken disputes his ex-father-in-law's recollection. "I remember the conversation. That's not what happened," Okken says. "He was not trying to dissuade the marriage, he was trying to enforce the marriage."
William Crozier says the marriage was troubled from the start. Okken declined to talk about it. Robin Crozier, through her attorney, also declined to discuss the situation.
By late 1988, Robin Crozier-Okken and Duane Okken separated. She kept their son, Tyler, who was then 2 years old, and filed for divorce. She hired Joseph Richter as her attorney. From the outset of the case, Richter says, Okken was one angry husband.
"Every time we got involved in a telephone communication, without a doubt it ended with me going ballistic and him going ballistic," Richter says. "He made members of my staff--secretaries, receptionists--cry. He is a very aggressive, confrontational person."
After months of tempestuous negotiations, the couple agreed to the terms of a divorce, which was granted in February 1990.
The terms do not appear out of the ordinary. The couple divided their property, Okken was ordered to pay child support and the couple reached an agreement on child custody that essentially gave each about half the time with their son. Robin was awarded primary custody.
The custody agreement was reached after Ronn Lavit, a psychologist, evaluated the couple and recommended that Robin be given the upper hand. Lavit's attorney says he did so primarily because Okken was so "headstrong" that it seemed likely he would shut Robin out of decisions concerning their son's life if he won primary custody.
"In his opinion, Mrs. Okken would allow Mr. Okken input in major decisions concerning the child," says Steve Maseros, Lavit's attorney. "Mr. Okken was so headstrong he wouldn't let her have any input."
After the divorce was granted, Okken set upon his ex-wife and everyone else involved in the case, like a terrier after a rat.
In various court filings and letters, Okken appeared to be a wounded, and frequently sarcastic, man. He claimed he should not have been forced to divide community property with his ex-wife, because she ensnared him in marriage by ceasing to take her birth-control pills and becoming pregnant.
He charged in one lawsuit that his ex-wife purposefully got pregnant so that Okken "would feel obligated to marry [Robin Crozier] and she would thereby appropriate his present and future assets," a charge her father says is nonsense.
He contested the agreement that his ex-wife have primary custody of their child--even though he has ample visitation rights--arguing that she is unfit and threatened suicide to force him to marry her.
In a suit against Robin, her parents, Richter and all of Richter's law partners, Okken charged racketeering, saying that they conspired to cheat him out of money on child-support payments.
Okken even tried to force the law firm that referred him to his own divorce attorney, Doug McVay, to pay him $15,000 to $25,000 and give him legal work in exchange for avoiding a legal battle with him.
"I write this letter to try to elicit some reasonable response from you as to how we can settle this in the most amiable fashion available," Okken wrote to John Furman of O'Connor Cavanagh. "Of course to make any progress, OC will have to lay aside its self-righteous holy shield (which I'd suggest to you is really a holely [sic] shield) and evaluate the issues in terms of your exposure."
Furman says Okken never followed through on his threat to sue the firm.
All of the efforts--the lawsuits and bombastic letters--went nowhere. Okken withdrew most of the cases. But, ultimately, like a fisherman seeking a pearl among the oysters, Okken found one case on which he could focus his efforts.
That was his suit against Lavit, the psychologist who did the evaluations to determine custody of son Tyler.
@body:In the course of his postmarital crusade, Okken discovered what he considered to be a disturbing closeness between Lavit and his ex-wife's attorney, Joseph Richter.
In 1979, psychologist Lavit's own ex-wife had taken their son and moved to Oklahoma City. Lavit sought to have her held in contempt of court. In court filings, he claimed that his ex-wife had refused to let him see or speak to his son despite their visitation agreement, and then had "spirited" him off to Oklahoma City.
Richter, Okken learned from the court paperwork, was Lavit's attorney in the case. It was resolved when Lavit's ex-wife agreed to new arrangements for sharing custody.
Several years later, Richter had formally witnessed Lavit's second wedding. And the two men socialized, as did their children, Okken found.