Former Playmate must pay ex's legal fees after prenup is upheld

Published: Saturday, June 27 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Utah Court of Appeals has ruled a former Playboy Playmate must pay for her multimillionaire husband's legal fees after the appellate judges determined she is not entitled to share in his fortune due to a prenuptial agreement.

The ruling states that Hope Marie Carlton, an actress who was a Playboy Playmate of the Month in 1985, is not entitled to co-ownership of a luxury resort, or $1.5 million in profits from land development in San Juan County. Prior to their California marriage in 1991, Carlton and Robert Keith Levin entered into a prenuptial agreement that protected Levin's assets from being divided in the event of a divorce.

The ruling states that at the time Carlton was a 25-year-old aspiring actress who had sporadic parts in movies and TV shows and was making as much as $44,000 in one year. Meanwhile Levin, who was 42 and semi-retired at the time of their marriage, was a multimillionaire.

After their marriage, the couple moved to Park City "where they lived a luxurious leisure lifestyle," according to the ruling. In 1994, the couple developed the Sorrel River Ranch Resort along the Colorado River just north of Moab.

Court documents show Carlton considered herself a co-owner of the luxury resort and spa. The couple caused a bit of a stir in 2003 when they invited HBO to shoot episodes of a series called "Hotel Erotica" there. The series is described as an "adults-only erotic series" on HBO's Web site.

According to IMDb.com, Carlton herself acted in the series. In addition to starring in several Playboy productions, Carlton has starred in several horror films, including "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4," as well as roles on several television shows, including "Baywatch," "Quantum Leap," "Charles in Charge" and "L.A. Law."

Former Grand County Councilman Al McLeod, whose district included the Sorrel River Ranch, said when word got out about the HBO series, some constituents called it "soft porn" and were concerned about the community's reputation. McLeod himself said he was concerned that Levin had violated a zoning agreement not to operate a cabaret at the resort.

Ultimately, the controversy died down. McLeod said he remembers Carlton as a person involved in local community service organizations. "She was a very nice lady and liked to be involved," McLeod said. He said Levin pretty much kept to himself.

In addition to finding against her, the Utah Court of Appeals also ordered Carlton to pay her ex-husband's legal fees of around $167,885. The ruling states the money owed will be deducted from her $15,000-a-month alimony at the rate of $2,500 a month until fully paid. A lower court could adjust that amount.

Carlton has the option to appeal the decision to the Utah Supreme Court. A call to her attorney, Stephen Clark, was not returned.

E-MAIL: gfattah@desnews.com

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