Yoko Ono Testifies Against Ex-Assistant

updated 09/24/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/24/2002 11:00AM

Yoko Ono took the stand Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, where she testified against former personal assistant Frederic Seaman, saying he was sworn to secrecy about her life with John Lennon.

The New York Times reports that Ono, 69, drew chuckles in the courtroom with her understatements. "I am a widow," she said. Asked what her late husband, John Lennon, did for a living, she replied, "He was a member of a band called the Beatles."

Ono, dressed demurely in black, also testified that after the birth of the couple's only son, Sean, in 1975, she and her husband "decided we wanted to keep our private life very private," a fact that Seaman frequently heard from the Lennons. It was stressed to the assistant, Ono testified, "that it was very important that he not give out any information about our whereabouts."

Ono, who filed her suit against Seaman in 1999, is alleging that he violated a confidentiality agreement by publishing family photos of the Lennons in a book about the slain ex-Beatle's final days. She also claims that he took 374 photos of the family (she wants him to surrender the rights to these snapshots to her) and that he profited to the tune of $75,000 by stealing mementos and selling them to collectors. Seaman denies the charges.

According to the Associated Press, Seaman's lawyer, Glenn Wolther, characterized Ono's lawsuit as a cynical bid to corner the market on the legacy of her late husband, who was felled by an assassin's bullet outside their New York apartment building in 1980. Wolther termed Lennon "one of the largest media icons of the 20th century."

Ono is due to return to the witness stand Tuesday.

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