The following Op-Ed appeared in several newspapers along Florida’s Treasure Coast this date. 

Marshall Frank: Sterling wrong, but shun Stiviano, the rat

Marshall Frank is an author and retired South Florida police detective who lives in Melbourne. Online:

Friday, May 30, 2014

The esteemed queen of television interview, Barbara Walters, managed a coup recently when she convinced V. Stiviano to sit down and answer questions on camera about her relationship with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The interview made good ratings, considering that Sterling has been exposed a racist and V. Stiviano is now a celebrity of sorts.

Beautiful, mixed-race, articulate, V. Stiviano has unabashedly been the “kept woman” on the side for the married billionaire, enjoying her half-million dollar car and a house worth nearly $2 million, plus all the clothes and amenities she could possibly want. Although he’s a married man, it’s all taken in stride, not unusual in 21st century America for some wives of multimillionaires to look the other way when their old moneybag spouses need to play.

All the media attention is on Mr. Sterling for exposing his views about blacks. Or did he? Seems those views were exposed not by him, but surreptitiously by the kept woman. What Barbara Walters failed to ask was: Why?

All the attention has been on Sterling’s racism. Missing was: “Why did you secretly tape private phone conversations with Don Sterling? Why did you give a copy of those tapes to another person?

Unless someone is a threat to national security, or conspiring to commit a serious felony, folks (even millionaires) have a right to expect privacy on telephones, unless a court order allows otherwise. This was a private conversation, not authorized for release. Free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Yes, Mr. Sterling was morally wrong. But so was the rat. Right or wrong, Sterling did a lot for V. Stiviano and she stuck it to him.

During my teen years, my widowed mother married a criminal. My stepfather was a bookie, taking illegal bets and loaning money for interest as his “career.” Yet, during my teens, he was a valued adviser, there for me during hard times with friendship and helping me get jobs (legitimate) in restaurants. Never would I betray the man who did so much for me. You never voluntarily rat on people who have gone to bat for you. Never.

Cops use finks all the time for information and to testify against others in criminal trials. They are important witnesses. Often, they are in a no-choice situation. Others turn states witness for selfish reasons. We may like them, but we don’t necessarily respect them.

Seems Stiviano is the ultimate opportunist, having been arrested four previous times in four jurisdictions, on charges like petty theft, burglary, possession of controlled substance and DUI, using any one of four aliases along the way. She landed her pot of gold with Sterling and now expects to walk away a wealthy celeb, perhaps with offers to act and model. Playboy, where are you?

To many, it is just as shameful to be a rat as it is to be racist. The world is shunning Don Sterling now, thanks to V. Stiviano. But the same should be imposed upon her, shunned by media and friends who, incidentally, better watch out. You can never trust a rat.