The voluminous divorce papers filed with Los Angeles County Superior Court paint a more complicated picture. In public court documents, Bruce said he and Judi adopted Whitney in March 1985, when they lived in Atlanta, after trying for five years to have a child on their own. In 1987, they moved to New York, renting a series of apartments on the Upper East Side. The formerly Catholic Judi became an active member of the socially prominent Brick Presbyterian Church. The Nathans enrolled Whitney at the elite Madison Avenue Presbyterian Day School and, later on, Spence. In other court documents, there is mention of a Porsche, a Cadillac, antique furniture, paintings, pricey rugs, a place in Southampton, and, according to Judi, Bruce’s “trust fund valued at $800,000 to one million dollars.” She added, “My husband has had a long history of credit loans to support his lavish lifestyle.”
As with all bad marriages, there seems to have been enough blame to go around. In one of the many affidavits filed and cross-filed by the warring Nathans, Judi accused Bruce of “a violent temper,” “numerous physical assaults and manhandling of me,” including “screaming vile epithets, cursing,” and “punching me in the side of my head” in March 1992. After that alleged attack—which Bruce has denied—Judith retreated with her daughter to a neighbor’s and called the cops. “I feared for my safety and that of my daughter,” she claimed in her affidavit, adding, “I immediately fled California.” She went first to Hazleton and stayed temporarily with her parents, then moved in with friends in Manhattan and took a part-time job in a dentist’s office before eventually finding full-time work at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Bruce, in his own court filings, claimed that Judi had kidnapped their child and branded her an “unfit mother” and a “social climber” whose “‘main goal’ in life was being involved with whatever was ‘the in thing’ at the moment. Whether it was belonging to ‘the right church’ by converting from Catholicism to Presbyterian; playing bridge with the ‘right people’ … enrolling Whitney at the ‘right schools’ in order to further my wife’s social aspirations; wearing designer clothes and jewelry; and vacationing at the fashionable Hamptons.”
And while “I maintained my Jewish heritage,” Bruce alleged that “my wife thought nothing of physically and mentally abusing me within Whitney’s earshot.” When he couldn’t afford something, she referred to him as “Jew boy” and other slurs. Mike McKeon, Judith’s campaign press secretary, dismisses the “ridiculous” fifteen-year-old allegation. “Anti-Semites don’t marry Jews.”
Meanwhile, she went on with her life, having various romances. One is said to have been with a French diplomatic staffer. For four years, she and Whitney and clinical psychologist Manos Zacharioudakis lived together in a one-bedroom apartment on East 55th Street.
Years later, after Rudy made Judith the third Mrs. Giuliani and launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Zacharioudakis rhapsodized to the Daily News about his former lover’s “passion,” “sensual” nature, and “Italian eroticism.”
Around the same time, Judith went back to court over custody arrangements for 16-year-old Whitney. She’d fled her mother’s Upper East Side apartment to move in with her father, safely out of the limelight.
Then 9/11 happened, and everything changed. For one thing, Rudy’s political career was resuscitated. During his illness, Giuliani had become increasingly dependent on her, a relationship that continued into his professional life. “She had to approve his schedule, which had already been finalized weeks before,” says an insider. “People eventually knew not to lock anything in until she’d looked at it.”
In his best-selling 2002 autobiography, Leadership, Giuliani wrote that his future wife had been an effective mayoral adviser after 9/11 because she “had been a nurse for many years, and afterward a pharmaceutical executive; she had managed a team of people and had many organizational skills. Further, she had wide-ranging scientific knowledge and research expertise.” He added that he “put her to work helping me organize the hospitals” to treat the injured from ground zero. His campaign Website, meanwhile, notes, “In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Mrs. Giuliani coordinated the efforts at the Family Assistance Center on Pier 94.”
But concerning Judith’s participation in the city’s response to 9/11, public-health and security consultant Jerry Hauer takes exception to the Giuliani campaign’s assertions. Hauer—a nationally known bioterrorism expert who was Rudy’s first director of the newly created Office of Emergency Management—minced no words about the claim that the mayor’s then-girlfriend “coordinated the efforts at the Family Assistance Center on Pier 94.”
“That is simply a lie,” Hauer tells me. “But Rudy’s not shy about rewriting history when it suits him.”
Hauer had a bitter falling-out with Giuliani after Hauer endorsed Democrat Mark Green’s mayoral candidacy in 2001. “You’re done,” Rudy told him ominously after he and former police commissioner Bill Bratton staged a press conference endorsing Green.