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Battered mail-order bride awarded $430k

Ukrainian internet wife in the money

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A US jury has awarded a mail-order bride $434,000 in damages against the internet introduction agency which matched the Ukrainian to the US husband accused of beating her.

Nataliya Fox sued Encounters International for fraud and negligence after her marriage to James Fox broke down following a spate of violence on his part which hospitalised her. Mrs Fox told the Baltimore court that the owner of Encounters International, Natasha Spivack, told her she would be deported if she walked out of the marriage.

James Fox had already married one mail-order bride before he tied the knot with Nataliya in 1998. His first spouse left him after two weeks because she was "foolish", as Spivack later put it to Mrs Fox. Spivack added: "She just didn't appreciate what he has, how great, he has everything." In court, however, Mrs Fox's lawyer asserted that Spivack had prior knowledge of James Fox's violent tendencies.

In 2002, James Fox allegedly administered his wife a two-hour beating while she was breastfeeding their baby. She ended up in hospital - and subsequently fled to a women's refuge - while James Fox flew to Haiti and obtained a quickie divorce. The court heard that James Fox had faced criminal charges in Virginia for wife-beating, but avoided prosecution after attending classes for "batterers".

On hearing the jury's verdict, Nataliya Fox declared: "I am very happy. I am happy that justice prevailed. I hope women will not suffer as I suffered." Natasha Spivack's reaction was one of shock: "I am 200 per cent innocent. Not just 100 per cent," she insisted, before announcing her intention to appeal.

Encounters International currently claims 19 engaged couples, 257 marriages and 103 babies as a result of its match-making. Membership costs $1,850 which gives you access to its database of "bright and beautiful, traditional and intellectually stimulating Russian ladies". As the site's blurb puts it, Russian women are "no longer the best kept secret of the cold war". What's more, they have a "different outlook on life and marriage. They are less materialistic than their American counterparts and are more family oriented. As wives, they desire to build a loving home, follow their husband's lead, and stick with the marriage, even when times get tough and things stop being 'fun'." ®

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