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Suit Filed Against Cooke Estate

May 5, 1998

WARRENTON, Va. (AP) _ A woman who worked as a chef for the late Jack Kent Cooke said in a lawsuit filed Monday that the Washington Redskins owner made repeated sexual overtures to her.

Katherine Thrift, in the suit filed against Cooke’s estate in Fauquier County Circuit Court, said Cooke groped her and forced her to model clothes for him. She contends Cooke assured her he would take care of her and her two children financially.

Dennis I. Belcher, an attorney for Cooke’s estate, called Thrift’s allegations ``preposterous.″ Belcher said Cooke fired Thrift in May 1996. He did not say why.

Cooke died April 6, 1997, at age 84, leaving an estate worth an estimated $825 million. He left most of his estate to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a trust to provide scholarships and other aid to underprivileged children.

Thrift, who was 31 when Cooke hired her in February 1995, said in her suit that Cooke drank heavily and belittled her and all other women in screaming tirades.

The suit said she refused Cooke’s demand for sex but ``slept in his bed without having sexual intercourse with him because she feared for her job.″

She is seeking damages based on claims of assault and battery and emotional distress.

Last month, lawyers for Cooke’s estate reached a secret agreement with his widow, Marlena Romalla Cooke, who sued after Cooke’s death to seek a third of his fortune. Cooke cut his wife out of his will shortly before he died.

Lawyers for the estate claimed Mrs. Cooke broke a prenuptial agreement by failing to live with her husband ``as man and wife.″ Mrs. Cooke claimed Cooke coerced her into signing the agreement and hid the value of his estate from her.

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