Jesse James’ ex wife and the mother of his five year old daughter, former pr0n star Janine Lindemulder, appeared in a pre-taped segment on Good Morning America yesterday pleading for custody of her daughter. Lindemulder is out of federal prison after serving a six month sentence for tax evasion. She failed to pay any federal taxes for six full years, from 2000 to 2006, and owed nearly $300,000 to the government.
James is the husband of rom-com star Sandra Bullock, and he and Bullock currently have full custody of Lindemulder’s five year old daughter, Sunny. Both Bullock and James allege that Lindemulder is an unfit mother and are seeking to retain custody of Sunny now that her mom is out of prison. In her Good Morning America segment, Lindemulder acknowledges that she has made mistakes and abused drugs in the past, but says she’s ready to co-parent again and that she’d just like to sit down and talk to Bullock about it. She also calls Bullock a great mom to Sunny, but says that it hurts that Bullock has never talked to her and that more than anything she’d like to open communication with her. Lindemulder no longer works in the adult film industry by court order and is hoping to start a career as a tattoo artist:
It’s not quite the ultimate battle of good versus evil, but it’ll do: America’s Sweetheart is taking on a freshly jail-broken pr0n star in what’s shaping up to be quite the headline-grabbing custody dispute.
The child in question is 5-year-old Sunny James, the daughter of Monster Garage host Jesse James and his trouble-plagued, sobriety-challenged, adult-film-star ex, Janine Lindemulder.
For the better part of the last year, James (with a massive maternal assist from wife Sandra Bullock) has had sole custody of the child, due primarily to the fact that Lindemulder has spent the past six months behind bars for tax evasion.
But now she’s out and looking for a return stake in parental duties. And what better place to find that than Good Morning America?
“What would give her the right to take away my daughter?” Lindemulder said of Bullock, toward whom the majority of her ire seems directed. “This is my daughter. I’m the best mother I can be.”
And while she admitted on the morning show that she’s “absolutely made horrific choices in the past,” she stresses that her life is currently back on track.
Though Bullock and James beg to differ.
The duo each penned letters to the judge in Lindemulder’s recent tax evasion case, urging stricter punishment and painting the erstwhile Blink-182 video vixen as an unfit parent.
“I am aware that Janine has claimed many times that my desire to have Sunny was because I could not have children of my own,” Bullock writes in the letter obtained by ABC News. “As difficult as that is for me to hear, and write, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Instead, she claims it was Lindemulder’s life choices that led to the decision not to have kids of her own, saying she and James “realized that due to the instability in Sunny’s life, bringing another child into the world at this time would not be in Sunny’s best interest.”
Also detrimental to Sunny, in Bullock’s opinion? Having Lindemulder in her life.
“I myself have stopped working like I used to in order to be here with Jesse and the kids because we are on constant ‘high alert,’ ” she writes. “Never knowing what condition Janine will be in, and even more concerning, the condition Sunny will be in.
“While in Janine’s care, sometimes Sunny is left alone during the day, while her mother is asleep from drug use.”
Lindemulder, as expected, didn’t let those comments slide.
“Sandy doesn’t know what goes on in my house. She doesn’t know how…I’d love for her to,” she said on GMA. “Please, come over! I’ll make dinner, let’s sit down, two women.”
Of the allegations about her home life—James and Bullock have criticized not only Lindemulder, but her new husband, Jeremy Aikman, who has several past state and federal convictions involving alcohol, guns and the manufacturing of narcotics—Lindemulder said the couple is simply misinformed.
“It hurts tremendously. The accusations, especially from Sandra…her even more so, because we’ve never sat down and talked. That’s the one thing that I wish more than anything for a remedy for what’s happening here, is just communication.”
Still, Lindemulder acknowledged that Bullock is an “excellent mother” who genuinely cares for her daughter.
It’s a compliment Bullock has taken and is seemingly ready to run with.
“I know the term ‘stepmother’ carries many connotations, one of them being a ‘glorified babysitter,’ ” she writes. “My commitment and responsibility to Sunny, and Chandler and Jesse Jr., goes beyond that.
“We are FULLY prepared to accept the responsibility and make Sunny’s transition as healthy as possible if full custody should be awarded to Jesse…We are here, and know we may have a tough road ahead of us but we have built a strong and stable foundation, which makes us ready for anything.”
Including, one hopes, a custody battle royale.
[From E! News]
I think the most damning part of this report is the allegation that Lindemulder was passed out from drugs when she was supposed to be caring for her daughter. There’s also the issue of her new husband’s criminal past. Lindemulder and her husband have a lot of strikes against them, and they should have to show that they’re both serious about their sobriety if she wants to regain partial custody.
Lindemulder’s request that Bullock sit down and talk to her is completely reasonable, but these two have a long history. James hooked up with Bullock when then-wife Lindemulder was seven months pregnant with Sunny. Bullock and James sought sole custody of Sunny well before Lindemulder went to prison. In 2007, they launched a court case for custody with some circumstantial evidence of abuse. In court papers, Bullock and James explained that then three-year-old Sunny had bruises on her face that she said she got from “mommy’s chair,” and she also seemed upset and cried out things in her sleep like “don’t touch me.”
I’m not sure if Lindemulder has visitation of Sunny at all, and maybe she can start with court-monitored visits until she can prove that she’s ready for shared custody. It doesn’t sound like she’s back on her feet yet, although she does seem earnest about it. She also deserves some credit for not smack talking Bullock and for just asking to talk to her about it. You can tell that Sandra and Jesse really care for this little girl and that they just want the best for her.
Sandra and Sunny are shown at LAX on 7/27/08. Credit: Bauergriffinonline.com