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District attorney sued in heart balm lawsuit

The elected district attorney for Bladen, Brunswick, and Columbus counties has been named as the defendant in a civil lawsuit alleging that he seduced and had a sexual relationship with a married former Bladen County Commissioner, according to court records obtained by Lawyers Weekly.

A complaint filed in December 2020 alleges that District Attorney Jon David began the relationship with the former commissioner, Ashley Trivette, after she was charged with driving while impaired in October 2017. Her husband, Tracey Trivette, alleges that David then initiated “numerous enticing texts, calls, and communications” to her, and that this led to their having a sexual relationship which ultimately caused the Trivettes to separate in January 2018.

Tracey Trivette is suing David for alienation of affection and criminal conversation—so-called “heart balm” torts that are essentially claims for home-wrecking and adultery, respectively—and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ashley Trivette filed for divorce on Dec. 31. On March 5, Superior Court Judge Kent Harrell issued an order staying the proceedings in the civil lawsuit against David pending the resolution of those divorce proceedings. The order notes that both parties agreed to the stay and are seeking alternative methods to resolve the pending conflicts out of court.

Harrell’s order says that David, who has not yet filed an answer to the complaint, contends that he would be entitled to a credit or offset against any award equal to the value of the property Tracey Trivette receives in any equitable distribution claim in the divorce proceeding.

Gary Grady of Hester, Grady & Hester Lawyers in Elizabethtown represents Tracey Trivette. He declined to comment on the lawsuit. Tamara Avis Smith of Pennington & Smith in Wilmington represents David. She also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

David ultimately recused himself from Ashley Trivette’s criminal prosecution. She pleaded guilty to the DWI charge, and a misdemeanor child abuse charge resulting from the drunk driving was dismissed. Trivette declined to seek re-election in 2020.

A Charlotte-based television station first reported the existence of a romantic relationship between David and Ashley Trivette in 2018 in connection with a story about David’s investigation into alleged election fraud in Bladen County, an investigation from which he also recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

David’s and Ashley Trivette’s Facebook profiles currently state that they are in a relationship with one another.

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