North Carolina District 24 Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) is being sued for alienation of affection and criminal conversation.
District 24 includes all of Alamance County and an eastern portion of Guilford County. Gunn, who was first elected to the state Senate in 2010, announced in November 2019 that he would not be running for a sixth term, and is not running for any office in the 2020 election.
Gunn is the senate majority whip and is chair of the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee and of the Appropriations on Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources Committee. He is also a member of the powerful Rules Committee.
The lawsuit was filed by Arthur Johns in Wake County Superior Court. In the lawsuit, Arthur Johns accuses Gunn of having an affair with his legislative assistant Karen Johns, who at the time was married to Arthur Johns.
The couple separated in July 2019.
North Carolina is one of the few states left where a spouse can sue for alienation of affection, which is breaking up marriage by having a romantic relationship with a person married to someone else. Criminal conversation is sexual intercourse with someone else’s spouse.
Karen Johns was Gunn’s longtime legislative assistant and according to the lawsuit the two spent a lot of time together in Burlington, Asheboro and Raleigh.
Arthur Johns alleges in the lawsuit that Gunn invited Karen Johns to social events where Arthur Johns was not invited and that Gunn frequently contacted Karen Johns on nights and weekends.
The lawsuit states, “During non-work hours that would otherwise would have been family time for Plaintiff and Wife to enjoy, Defendant encouraged Wife to spend large amounts of time in his company, to communicate with him immediately and almost constantly via text and phone, and to travel with him with no one else present.”
The couple had been married since 1994 and have two children together.
The lawsuit also states, “At one point Defendant and Wife attempted to use Defendant’s office to destroy Plaintiff’s reputation and to embarrass and humiliate him publicly.
The lawsuit states that it is for more than $1 million and no less than $30,000 in compensatory damages for each of two counts and more than $1 million and no less than $30,000 in punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees.