- Breaking News
- Hip Hop Fashion
- Hip Hop Honeys
- Instagrams of the Week
- Latest Hip Hop News
- Media Gallery
- Talk of the Town
- The Stars
Usher is being sworn in to testify
UPDATE!!! Moments before superstar singer Usher Raymond was to take the stand, his attorneys ( John Mayoue & Ivory Brown) notified the judge that he wanted to speak with Tameka Foster Raymond in private and the judge granted his request. Within two hours of their private discussion, the two emerged and a mediator was summoned to the courtroom so they could hash out a possible amicable agreement. But you know how the saying goes..the deal ain’t done until it’s a done deal!!
One of the most difficult things that divorced couples have to deal with is how to maintain a healthy relationship after everything is over for the sake of their children.
In most custody cases it’s hard to know who is telling the truth. The Usher Raymond (Petitioner) v. Tameka Foster Raymond (Respondent) custody battle is no exception. Everyone knows there are always three sides to these stories…his, hers, and the truth. (When Usher made this exact statement, Tameka’s attorney, Lisa West, asked: “Are you saying your version is a lie”?!!)
Is Tameka negligent and prone to changing the custody agreement based on her emotional state? Is Usher an absentee-father only recently becoming intimately involved in his boy’s life because he wants primary custody? Are both parents a nanny’s worst nightmare? Do Usher V (Cinco) and Daviyd stand any chance at having a normal, healthy, happy, and sane childhood?
Read this real life War of the Roses here and decide for yourself.
The Court-Appointed Guardian
The second day of testimony saw the court-appointed Guardian, Dan Bloom, being criticized for not ordering Usher to take a drug test after allegations of marijuana and ecstasy use were raised by Tameka. Tameka was accused of drinking and continuing to take drugs after liposuction, although she reportedly denied any drug use under oath which Usher did not do. Tameka also took and passed a drug test while Usher has twice refused to be tested for drug use.
Tameka’s attorney, Lisa West, asked Bloom if it was not incumbent upon the Guardian to determine if the allegation of drug use by either party was true, and if a party refuses to take a drug test (as Usher allegedly did), isn’t that a red flag?
“During my investigation, I did not find that either party’s parenting was impacted by the use of drugs,” stated Bloom. “I don’t go on wild goose chases.”
Bloom said that the two instances Tameka cited when accusing Usher of drug use were times he was not even with the children.
Bloom also testified that after hanging out with the boys (and countless interviews), in his opinion, Usher has a stable environment and structure for the children because they attend school in Atlanta and are close to their grandmother, great-grandmother and great aunt. Tameka’s attorney, however, accused Usher of planning to move to New York.
“I was told he planned to stay in Atlanta and I received a parenting plan based on both parties remaining in Atlanta,” said Bloom.
Although both were accused of being absentee parents (Tameka is said to stay holed up in her room “depressed” and Usher on tour), Bloom said:
“I have decided that even though he (Usher) travels, he is going to be able to provide a more stable environment than Mrs. Raymond, which would include spending a significant amount of time with the children.”
It should be noted that neither Usher nor Tameka cares for their children without a lot of assistance. Exactly who has the more stable home is the million dollar question yet to be decided.
Although the nannies were many, they seem to agree on several points. Daily planning of the boy’s schedules was non-existent or erratic, no clear directions were given, the pay was inconsistent, expenses were not reimbursed, the boys were used to play “gotcha” games, benign neglect existed on both sides, and no one wants to work for Tameka ever again.
In a written deposition, former nanny Jenny Silva said her interactions with Usher were “not good” and her interactions with Tameka were “terrible” (although her broken English is said to be evident of a language barrier so did she REALLY know what she was saying?!!). Silva was apparently working for Tameka when she took that trip to Brazil and fell ill after receiving anesthesia during cosmetic surgery.
According to court-appointed Guardian Dan Bloom, former nanny Jackie Martin contacted him by email claiming to be worried about the adverse effect the inconsistent schedules were having on the boys. Martin stated that after returning from a recent trip to see their father, the boys were using profanity like “holy s**t” and one seemed especially sad. She also reportedly expressed her frustration with Tameka and her concern for the boys if she were to quit.
Martin, who has a conviction for theft, also had some interesting incidents to share. For instance, during a Miami trip, Martin said she was forced to stay in the car with one of the boys for over an hour while Tameka, the other son and a friend went to a Miami Heat game because they didn’t have enough tickets. Martin also stated that the household is “unstructured” and “stressful” and says that there were never any meetings to discuss the children but that she and Tameka would “talk for 5 minutes in passing”.
After quitting two or three times, Martin claims that she’d finally had enough of it all, including getting phone calls and text messages on her days off asking where she was, and left for good. Tameka’s response “…It’s my fault for hiring a privileged nanny. You don’t need to work but other nannies do.”
Martin said she eventually began to miss the boys but seemed unclear as to how she had made contact with Usher to request a visit. She claims to have observed Usher playing with, interacting at dinner with, and tucking the boys into bed. (Which brings us to an interesting question… was there another reason Martin was REALLY at Usher’s house, and why did she contact Bloom at least seven times complaining about Tameka? She did state that Usher finally paid her $1,400 expense tab so is she truly unbiased?)
Katie Benson, whose nanny pedigree is impeccable, says she was on time but waited 40 minutes to be interviewed by Tameka (red flag no. 1?). Benson said that from the very beginning, no instructions were given.
“I walked in, she said they were upstairs and she went back to bed.”
Eventually she learned how the boys liked their eggs, but there was no medical information or daily schedules forthcoming. Benson too said there were problems getting paid and expenses reimbursed. When asked why she quit the week before Thanksgiving, Benson said “payment was too up and down. I liked the children; most of the problems were with Mrs. Raymond.”
Even more damaging, Benson said: “I think she loves her children, but I think she’s neglectful.”
Just as disturbing was both nannies’ claims that they were not told of a peanut allergy one of the boys has right away and one even said when she did find out, the child told her.
Benson said that the boys “talk about their dad a lot”. She also said that one of the boys stutters more after returning from visiting his father.
Usher’s attorney asked Tameka: “Has the thought occurred to you that you have gone through so many nannies because you lack parenting skills?”
Tameka responded: no, the relationships deteriorated due to late pays and no pays.
Tameka Raymond confidently took the stand ready to tell her side of the story. Unfortunately there was a delay until a copy of a previous deposition with larger type was found. During the delay, Tameka said she probably needed more Lasik. Um no, you need reading glasses and it happens to the best of us girlfriend!
Tameka has been described as not usually being home for dinner but out at events and interacting with her children infrequently. When previously asked why she stayed in her room a lot, it was stated “…she said she was depressed.” The nannies all agreed that they would be hesitant to leave the boys in her care because she would be in her room and the children would be alone.
Tameka supposedly took a 2-day trip to Miami, leaving the children behind and not alerting Usher to her plans denying him the opportunity to have the boys for the weekend. There were also claims of the boys being left unsupervised with a 10-year-old cousin. When asked during a previous deposition how she’d responded when confronted by Usher, Tameka said, “I might have said go f**k yourself and if not, I’m saying it now.”
When accused of directing the nannies not to sign the boys in and out at school (as she believes Usher was demanding) so she could give the appearance that SHE was dropping the boys off and picking them up, Tameka stated that Usher was micromanaging things and requiring things that the other kids in the school did not have to do. “That’s what happens when you live under a microscope…My kids are not special, just ordinary kids.”
Asked if, based on the deposition she would concede she has made threats against witnesses including threatening to kill Usher, kill both Usher and alleged girlfriend Grace Miguel, and ruin Usher’s career, Tameka responded, “No. He took his girlfriend to my kid’s school…snuck into a side door…”
When asked if she called Usher a bunch of profane names, she said, “A week after he filed to take my children away, I probably said a lot of stuff.”
Tameka appeared to have forgotten most of what she was accused of until confronted with proof.
One of Tameka’s most interesting remarks seems to confirm the contention that she had a hard way to go from day one with her mother-in-law. She said, “This (her marriage) has been a very convoluted relationship with too many people involved. She (a previous fashion stylist) went to work for his mother who stated for I don’t know how many years that she didn’t like me.” Tameka later revealed that Jonetta Patton gave her a difficult time once Usher told her he was in love with Tameka and that their relationship went downhill from that point.
A soft-spoken Usher took the stand on the third day. Glancing often at the judge while smiling and laughing nervously, the Entertainer and Philanthropist (his words), recounted how he’d met Tameka while recording Confessions. She’d been his personal stylist for two years. Although their divorce designated joint custody, Usher says he is responsible for making decisions regarding the boy’s education, religion, extracurricular activities and health.
Usher, also gave detailed accounts of the boys personalities and their individual challenges, we assume to confirm his intimate knowledge of and bond with the boys. For instance, Usher V (or Cinco), has allergies and Usher says he is responsible for administering his medications on a daily basis. He mentioned the names of the teachers and principal at the boy’s school and said “…really good exchange between myself and them (staff).” He went into detail about hiring EduCon, a consulting company that advises parents on how to successfully choose a school for their child based on factors such as their individual strengths and interests. Usher gave evidence of an educational and parenting plan, created with EduCon, based on the boys going to school in Atlanta. He said, although the boys showed different talents, (Cinco is athletic and Naviyd is creative), he hoped they would be able to attend the same school. Usher said he is working to cultivate the boy’s talents and that if you introduce things to your kids, it allows you to see where their interests lie. “I think identifying a passion is important for children.” He said he and the boys play basketball, baseball, computer games, cook, and make up stories and he said he uses some activities, like going to the movies, as a “grand reward”.
Usher said when they first divorced, Tameka gave him the impression that being with her kids was her number one priority and he “assumed” she would be the primary caretaker since she was “unemployed” and would have a support system (i.e. nanny). Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane, apparently needing clarity asked, “Did you make an assumption that Tameka Foster Raymond would be a stay at home Mom?” “No,” answered Usher, “We had a conversation and an understanding.” They also have a parenting agreement that splits time evenly and allows for some flexibility based on schedules. The agreement also has a “Right of First Refusal” clause which simply says each parent must notify the other of the children’s travel plans and the caregiver and possibly have the opportunity to care for the child themselves.
Usher also repeatedly answered questions from his attorney regarding schedules and daily activities, to show how involved he is as a father. According to Usher, because of their schedules they “…had to designate people to come in and help us manage the process.” These people included nanny Jenny Silva (previous nanny), Jonetta Patton (Usher’s Mother) , Patrice Odin (Usher’s Aunt), and Ernestine (Usher’s Grandmother who is an Evangelist). But, said Usher, even with all of the help, it’s not been the easiest plan to implement due to miscommunication and misunderstandings. An example included the children not traveling to Berlin to meet Usher as originally planned. He also said he thought he and Tameka would be amicable and act in the best interest of the children at all times, but Tameka’s three businesses and social life have made parenting her children less of a priority.
Usher further stated that even with a Confidentiality Agreement in place, Tameka’s daily activities are easily tracked based on her social media postings, and a lot of her travel appears to be socially based. She also makes posts about the boys. One particular facebook post he mentioned was a picture of the boys with the caption stating that neither wanted to go visit their dad. Another concern of Usher’s is Tameka’s proclivity for sending out tweets on the whereabouts of she and the boys which he says could put them in harm’s way.
According to Usher, he was willing to pay for Jenny Silva because he wanted insurance that someone would be with the children at all times because he knew Tameka might be away or not attentive. He cited two instances, one of which was Tameka leaving the house saying she was going to the movies, but being gone for 2-3 days leaving the children with Silva. Silva allegedly had many run-ins with Tameka regarding her lack of parenting, leaving for extended periods of time and not having food in the house. “She (Jenny Silva) was more of a parent to the children than Tameka was at the time, said Usher.” Another problem was Tameka using Jenny Silva to take care of ALL four children when she was only hired to care for the youngest two. Usher, aware that Silva was working out of the parameters of her agreement, said he knew this was an issue for her, as she’d already quit a few times. Eventually Tameka fired Silva.
Usher said even though he began to lose faith in Silva when certain things caught his eye like cuts on Cinco with no forthcoming explanation and not having a great relationship with Silva because of a language barrier, he does believe she loved the children.
Usher believes there have been a total of eleven nannies since the divorce (based on introductions and payments made). He said he was supposed to be involved in choosing the nanny, but wouldn’t know of their hiring until he happened to see a new face while chatting with the boys by computer. Usher’s current nanny, Cecilia Duncan, has been with the family for about 18 months.
Usher said that his 2009 tour schedule was heavier (5-6 mos.) and he was playing smaller venues like clubs because he was “rebuilding his career”. He said his 2010-2011 tour consisted of fewer days (4 months) but visits with the boys was bumpy because of Tameka’s disregard for the children’s schedule. When asked by Judge Lane to expound on the definition of a “tour”, Usher replied, “a tour compliments the success, or lack thereof (said while laughing nervously), of an album. ” His next tour is scheduled for 2013 but he said he can record and rehearse in Atlanta and spend fewer days on the road now that he is better positioned to dictate his own schedule and can play large venues like arenas.
Usher said he has often had the children with him on tour, describing a typical day which includes “play time” and “family prayer time”. He said sometimes the boys would sleep in the hotel and sometimes on the tour bus because “they love to sleep in the bunk beds on the bus.”
“I think consistency and repetition are by far the best tips to shape adults,” said Usher. “I’m raising future adults, not kids.”
I want them to understand privilege and the power in making good decisions. I hope the children will remember the first time they have experienced certain things.
Just before the trial concluded on Friday, Attorney Lisa West called to the stand Marriage Therapist Sola Winley who gave direct testimony as to why he believed Tameka Raymond was under a great deal of stress. One of the things that stood out in his testimony was the fact that Tameka told him that Usher had slept with two of her bridesmaids. This revelation apparently didn’t go over well with Usher as he stormed out the courtroom during a recess mumbling the words, “Now I am sleeping with her bridesmaids?”
The trial continues this morning and we expect a grilling cross-examination of Usher by attorney Lisa West (who, coincidentally, is a former judge).
Mediation has continued to no avail.
Editor’s Note: Due to conflicting information, it should be noted that Usher Raymond and Tameka Foster Raymond currently share custody of their children. Usher Raymond is the Petitioner having filed for primary custody and Tameka Foster Raymond is the Respondent. Court resumes on May 21st.
Follow us on twitter for all the latest in this developing soap opera at @hiphopenqmag