Anyone who grew up reading fairy tales and watching Disney films knows the handsome prince always sweeps in and saves the damsel in distress. Dennis F. Hightower created his own version of those tales, starring himself as the prince. But he forgot one thing — the prince is supposed to follow through with a happily-ever-after. He’s not supposed to decide one day to walk away, leaving the devastation of broken promises and lies behind.
Divorce attorney Dori Bye was definitely not looking to be swept off her feet, but that’s exactly what happened when she met Dennis F. Hightower. He appeared to be charming, gentlemanly, powerful and extremely generous. Their courtship included lavish gifts, travel to Europe and the promise of a lifetime of respect, happiness and true love. The romance was like a fairy tale, and the sky seemed to be the limit for the perfect power couple.
During the four-month relationship prior to marriage, Dennis became the Deputy Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration. The couple purchased a dream mansion in Connecticut. Then everything began to fall apart. Smiling blindly, Dori realized she was being groomed to be nothing more than a “Washington wife,” continuously pushed into the background as Dennis used
his Black Elite status to gain yet more power.
Then, almost as quickly as the power couple became entwined in their relationship, it started to unravel. Dennis resigned his position to return to private industry and board positions, or so Dori thought. Suddenly the big money started disappearing, or appeared never to have been there in the first place. Their dream home was lost to foreclosure. Exposed with the layers of lies, Dennis lost his charm and charisma, along with his power.
This is a true story of romance, white-collar crime and a short-lived marriage, followed by a pattern
of deception culminating in lawsuit upon lawsuit, including bankruptcy, foreclosure and currently one
of the longest divorces on record in Connecticut.
About Dori B. Hightower
Dori B. Hightower, principal and founder, The Law Office of Dori B. Hightower, LLC is based in Stamford, Connecticut. Her practice concentration is in complex and contentious matrimonial cases. The Law Office of Dori B. Hightower was honored as Litigator of the Year 2014: Solo Practice by the Connecticut Law Tribune. Hightower’s compassion and sensitivity in helping her clients through a difficult and often complex process has proven to be one of her strongest assets.
Riveting! Great Read! I can't put it down! I never read on a treadmill or exercise bike at the gym (especially on my iPhone), but I can't help myself!! It's a true page-turner… can't wait to see what happens on the next page. My favorite author… Sidney Sheldon, (female heroines) all of his books affected me that way… well Smiling Blind has the same page-turner affect on me... She is very articulate, open and honest of her feelings in writing this. I highly recommend this book. Again, great read!
By Nicholas T Lepore
Honest. To the bone writing on the first hand experience about marriage gone terribly wrong. This author is powerful, honest to the bone writing on the first hand experience about marriage gone terribly wrong. This author, a highly successful professional women, caring daughter and devoted mother to her daughter, got caught between very convincing lies, matters of loving and trusting heart, and corrupted legal system. System that after long seven years still did not deliver justice. I highly admire the courage it took to share this story, while it is still unfolding for the author. It is also a page turner, as I could not put it down, until I read it to the last page with all references, for those interested to follow to the final act. This story deserves broad recognition and applaud to Dori B. Hightower, for her many talents, but most importantly for her fierce independence and resolve to find justice and for her courage to be so vulnerable with the reader.
I'm not one to review books but this was so good I had to. Amazingly quick read and unbelievably honest. A look into the lives of living with a narcissist that is shockingly engaging. I now feel equipped with tools that may help guard me from potential train wrecks that would have made their way into my life. Worth it!
By Amazon Customer
I really admired Dori Hightower's bravery in sharing this story about her marriage and her continuing struggle and journey thereafter. In addition, her interesting commentary on the black elite really resonated with my experiences attending a prestigious prep school.
By Cathy Pilkington
I enjoyed reading this book and it would make an amazing movie! I read it in a few hours and couldn't put it down.
DOCKET NO. FBT-FA11-4037815-S : SUPERIOR COURT
DORI B. HIGHTOWER : J. D. OF FAIRFIELD
V. : AT THE REGIONAL FAMILY TRIAL DOCKET in MIDDLETOWN
DENNIS F. HIGHTOWER : SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
EXCERPTS FROM MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
“The trial of the above matter was held on April 17 and 18, 2017. Witnesses included the plaintiff, a Spanish-speaking interpreter who testified as to the translation of certain documents written in that language, and Lisa Nkonoki, a mutual acquaintance of the parties.
Notably, the defendant did not appear at trial. The trial had previously been scheduled to commence on March 21, 2017. On March 15, 2017, the defendant filed an appearance to represent himself in lieu of his then–attorney of record. In addition, shortly before March 21, 2017, the defendant sent a letter to the court which was reviewed by court staff (who also provided a copy to plaintiff’s counsel) but not seen or read by the trial judge.
When the court convened for the trial on March 21, 2017, the defendant was not present. The undersigned trial judge was made aware that the defendant’s letter included statements to the effect that he did not intend to appear at trial. The trial judge declined to read the letter after plaintiff’s counsel represented that it included statements and allegations which would be prejudicial to the plaintiff.”
(Excerpt from the Memorandum of Decision dated September 20, 2017 of the Honorable Albis, J., page 1)
“The plaintiff’s testimony and exhibits present a thorough account of the couple’s brief and stormy relationship and marriage, and the court does not attempt to recount all of the details here. Rather, the court observes that it found the plaintiff’s testimony to be credible and summarizes the following findings as to fault in broad terms.
When the parties met, Mr. Hightower impressed the plaintiff with his business and political background. He had served on the boards of several major entities and earned substantial incomes in those positions. He lavished expensive gifts upon the plaintiff, including the above Mercedes Benz automobile which he gave to her only weeks after meeting her. He displayed the general appearance of having great wealth. In addition, his political star was rising at the time the parties met, as he was under consideration for appointment to a position in the administration of then-President Barack Obama.
The defendant proposed marriage to the plaintiff not long after they began seeing each other. They soon purchased a multi-million dollar estate in Stamford, Connecticut, which became the marital home. Shortly before the marriage, the defendant had in fact been appointed and confirmed as President Obama’s Deputy Secretary of Commerce. He split his time between Washington, D.C. and the Connecticut home.
However, after the defendant left that position in August 2010, things began to unravel. He expressed concern about his finances, eventually borrowing the loan from the plaintiff’s mother to help make ends meet. The defendant was unable to continue to afford the extravagant lifestyle in which he had engaged. It is unclear whether this was because he had depleted his accumulated wealth or because he misrepresented the extent of his wealth in the first place. The plaintiff’s exhibits demonstrate that the defendant made incomplete and inconsistent representations about his financial condition during the course of the marriage and these proceedings in various financial affidavits, loan applications, bankruptcy court filings, and government employment disclosures.
In any event, the defendant’s financial situation deteriorated to the point where he filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petition in October 2013. The filing of the petition caused a stay in the process of this dissolution action until January 2016, when the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia issued an order permitting the entry of financial orders in this case. The bankruptcy delay is one of the reasons this dissolution action has been pending for a period of time that significantly exceeds the duration of the parties’ marriage before their separation and the filing of this action.
Meanwhile, other issues besides financial concerns began to arise in the marriage. The defendant’s controlling behavior as to matters such as the clothing his wife should wear made her feel that he only wanted a younger, attractive wife to accompany him to Washington, D.C. social and political functions, not a true partner. He changed his mind about his desire to have children with the plaintiff, something she had very much wanted. The final straw came when the plaintiff overheard a prolonged sexual dalliance between the defendant and another woman, as the result of his unintentional cell phone call to the plaintiff during the tryst.
For the reasons described herein, the court finds the defendant to be primarily and egregiously responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.”
(Excerpts from the Memorandum of Decision dated September 20, 2017 of the Honorable Albis, J., pages 10-12)
©2017 Dori B. Hightower. All rights reserved.
Photo credit for Dori's headshot: Gary Lewis
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