National Post

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Friday, July 02, 1999

Man must support bride who refused to be touched

Mark Hume
National Post

VANCOUVER - A retired engineer who went to Honduras to find a virgin bride, married her, and then divorced because she refused to let him touch her has been ordered to pay spousal maintenance for three years.

The B.C. Court of Appeal, in a ruling this week, said Nedjelko Juretic, 66, must pay Brenda Beatriz Ruiz $1,250 a month while she learns English and undertakes training to become a nurse or nurse's aid.

The judges ruled that although the short, unhappy marriage "produced nothing but shared household duties," Ms. Ruiz, 23, was due spousal support.

The ruling upholds an earlier Supreme Court of British Columbia divorce decision that both parties had appealed.

The courts heard that the marriage began to break down on the night of the wedding.

Mr. Juretic had advertised for a bride in a Honduran newspaper in 1996. "He was interested in finding a Spanish-speaking wife, a virgin, who wished to be a homemaker," states the judgment. "Ms. Ruiz answered the advertisement."

After flying to Honduras to meet his prospective bride and her family, Mr. Juretic brought her home to Vancouver.

She moved into his apartment and after a few months, in which they apparently lived without sexual contact, they were married.

"Following the marriage ceremony and a reception at a local restaurant, the parties returned to Mr. Juretic's apartment where Mr. Juretic anticipated the consummation of the marriage," wrote the appeal court judges. "Ms. Ruiz rebuffed his affectionate embraces, she told him if he wanted sex she was his, but she did not want him to touch her."

The judgment says Mr. Juretic did not persist that night, but tried again a few days later. Again Ms. Ruiz said she would have sex with him, but that she did not want to be touched.

"Mr. Juretic testified he never tried again. He told the trial judge that sex under those circumstances would be like rape. He gave up trying."

The judgment states the couple continued to live together and sleep in the same bed, but the marriage was never consummated. In March, nearly six months after they were wed, the couple separated, and Ms. Ruiz began a relationship with another man.

In divorce proceedings, the Supreme Court refused Mr. Juretic's application to have the marriage declared null and void, and ordered spousal support and division of family assets. Both parties appealed.

Ms. Ruiz was seeking spousal payments of $2,000 and a half-share of Mr. Juretic's assets, which included an apartment block worth $947,000.

Mr. Juretic was asking for reduced monthly payments, and a ruling that she should not have access to any of his assets.

The appeal court dismissed both applications and let the original decision stand. The family assets were set at about $186,000 and the courts ruled Ms. Ruiz was entitled to 10% of that. The apartment block was classified by the courts not as a family asset, but as a business that was separate from the marriage.

"All of the family assets were acquired and maintained by Mr. Juretic," the judgment says. "But it could not be forgotten that Mr. Juretic had actively sought the company of Ms. Ruiz. He brought her to this country with the intention of marrying her and providing for her during the course of their marriage."

The court felt that with three years of support from Mr. Juretic, Ms. Ruiz would be in a position to be self-sufficient.

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