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Tuesday, April 30, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Cliburn Sued For Palimony

AP

FORT WORTH, Texas - A former associate sued pianist Van Cliburn for palimony, seeking millions in cash and property and alleging that Cliburn exposed him to the AIDS virus during a 17-year relationship.

Thomas E. Zaremba, 48, a former member of the board of the Van Cliburn Foundation, brought the suit yesterday in a Tarrant County court.

"This has been absolutely a shocking surprise to me this afternoon," Cliburn, 61, said.

Cliburn's lawyer, Dee Kelly, said the claims are false and were an attempt at extortion.

Zaremba is represented by attorney Mike McCurley, who represented tennis player Martina Navratilova as the defendant in similar litigation four years ago.

McCurley said Zaremba met Cliburn in 1968 and the two became sexual partners in 1977. The lawyer described the relationship as "akin to a common-law marriage" and said it broke up two years ago.

McCurley said Zaremba does not have the AIDS virus and that he had no reason to believe that Cliburn has HIV. But he accused the pianist of having sex with other people who were HIV-positive during his relationship with Zaremba.

Cliburn said he has not been tested for HIV and does not have AIDS.

Zaremba declined to comment when reached at his home in a Detroit suburb.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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