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PREMIUM LEGAL RESOURCES LEGAL FORMS ASK A LAWYER

February 2, 1996

BRIDGEWATER, New Jersey (AP) -- A man filing for divorce accused his wife of carrying on a "virtual" affair via computer with a cybersex partner who called himself "The Weasel."

Diane Goydan's relationship with the man apparently never was consummated, but her husband, John Goydan of Bridgewater, claimed the pair had planned a real tryst this weekend at a New Hampshire bed and breakfast.

Goydan filed divorce papers January 23 that included dozens of e-mail exchanges -- some sexually explicit -- between his wife and a married man she met on America Online. The man, whose on-line name was The Weasel, was identified in court papers only as Ray from North Carolina.

In a November 23 message, The Weasel wrote: "I gotta tell you that I am one happy guy now and so much at peace again anticipating us. I love you dearly. XXOOXX."

Goydan is now seeking custody of the couple's two children, ages 3 and 7.

Goydan's lawyer, Richard Hurley, said Mrs. Goydan apparently believed the e-mail messages could not be retrieved, but her husband was able to pull them off the computer and store them on a disk.

That raises some privacy concerns, such as what rights spouses have to each other's communications, said David Banisar, spokesman for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington.

"If it's a shared computer, then the spouse has equal rights to get on it and share what's on it," Banisar said.

But if the husband gained access to her e-mail on line, that could violate her privacy rights, similar to a husband tapping his wife's telephone.

"It's still pretty undefined in the law," Banisar said.

The divorce papers do not say exactly how Goydan retrieved the messages. Goydan began saving his wife's e-mail every day after surprising her as she was printing out something on the computer when he came home from work early.

When Goydan later switched on the computer, it told him there was something waiting to be printed, and he discovered a message to his wife from The Weasel.

The lawsuit claims Mrs. Goydan promised that day to end [Internet Affair] the relationship but later that night sent The Weasel a message that they had been caught.

Weeks later, she messaged: "I just have to learn to be more careful. ... I want so badly to be with you that I am willing to chance it."

Reached by telephone at home Wednesday, Mrs. Goydan said, "You're kidding me" and hung up.

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