By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
In some ways, William Armsted Robinson ?is a strange man. The millionaire and founder of the Document Handling Limited (DHL) courier service lives on an Idaho ranch but has emerged as one of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's most generous donors, contributing $2.6 million for the governor's failed 2005 propositions alone.
"He's a good friend of Schwarzenegger and believes strongly in the direction that the governor is taking the state," said Robinson spokesman Marty Wilson. "He's willing to show support both in terms of his time and resources."
Robinson doesn't limit his donations to California elections. He gave $1 million to a chimpanzee preserve in Louisiana, funds animal shelters in Idaho and breeds exotic Lusitano horses, doling out cash while maintaining a life so private that when UPS and Federal Express lawyers wanted him to testify in a federal transportation deposition proceeding in 2003 as they unsuccessfully attempted to block him from selling DHL to a German conglomerate, a UPS spokesperson openly questioned whether Robinson even existed. "Maybe he's a composite," UPS spokesman David Bolger joked to The Journal of Commerce Online. Robinson finally appeared in court—according to the Associated Press, "dressed in blue jeans, denim shirt and felt hat"—and made onlookers sign confidentiality statements.
A strange man, indeed. But one thing Robinson is not, according to Wilson, is a pervert.
That's the charge levied by Robinson's former personal assistant, Paige Hurn, in a lawsuit filed through the California Superior Court's Orange County branch.
Richard Farnell, Hurn's attorney, didn't return several calls. Wilson would only say, "There hasn't been a lot of activity on the suit." In a written statement provided to the Weekly, Wilson said the charges are "untrue and unfounded and will be vigorously contested in court."
In Orange County and other places from 2000 until this year, Hurn's suit claims, Robinson:
•Told Hurn "he needed 'human contact' and that his dogs were not enough."
•Fired his personal pilots because "he believed they had a crush on [Hurn]."
•Fell from his porch in a drunken stupor, and continually abused Hurn "even while in great pain from his broken ribs while in the hospital."
•Used the toilet in front of Hurn with the door open.
•Urinated in front of Hurn in the yards of his Rancho Mirage and Bel-Air mansions.
•Forced Hurn to watch porn with him.
•Said Hurn should get a job at Hooters as she would be "very good at dancing on the tables."
•Made Hurn pluck hair from his ears.
•Wanted to construct a pool slide so that when Hurn slid down, "her top would come off and he would watch."
•Ordered an agent to steal Hurn's home computer.
•Proclaimed he would marry Hurn's 15-year-old daughter because "she would be perfect to give him an heir."
•Told Hurn that she and her mother had the "stupid gene."
•Slept with samurai swords and a loaded gun.
•Danced in his underwear while waving a gun over his head.
Hurn also claimed Robinson smuggled funds out of the country and paid workers in cash to avoid payroll taxes. Such activities continued, the suit alleges, until April, when Robinson supposedly fired Hurn because she started a romantic relationship with someone else.
This isn't the first time Robinson has encountered legal problems. Earlier this year, California's Fair Political Practices Commission fined Robinson $10,000 for forgetting to report his $100,000 contribution to Schwarzenegger's Total Recall Committee within 24 hours. In 2001, the Center for Public Integrity alleged DHL avoided taxes by sending revenue overseas. And the IRS has sought back taxes from Robinson and DHL on and off for the past decade.
"If there is a victim in this case," Wilson's statement continued, "it is Mr. Robinson who, through an internal investigation of his records, has discovered evidence that Ms. Hurn has embezzled many thousands of dollars over several years from his personal accounts. Ms. Hurn was a valued and trusted Robinson employee serving in a sensitive position. She violated the trust of her employer in a most egregious manner and is now attempting to shift the blame for her actions onto Mr. Robinson by making these frivolous charges."