by Monica Yant Kinney
The online dating world is full of wishful thinking, baggage-hiding, and artfully chosen photos that defy reality and gravity. All laptop romantics fib a little, hoping the truth won't matter once they've made an electronic love connection with another lonely liar.
But even by today's standards, the Match.com post by an infamous former Main Liner is a stretch.
The half-dozen pictures show a balding gent resembling Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, but the profile lists his age at an inconceivable 54.
He's a Gemini who digs dogs and devours the Economist, a lawyer who earns $150,000 a year. He's "athletic and toned" and seeks a "slender" younger gal interested in summering on a lake in Michigan with a cultured sugar daddy.
"I subscribe to the orchestra, ballet, opera, and theater."
Gee, I tell beattychad when I reach him by phone Monday at his place in Wilmington, you sound like a real catch. But, uh, is any of this version of you true?
Heh heh heh, H. Beatty Chadwick laughs nervously like his animated doppleganger. "What one says online is not always the fact."
A numbers game
If you want the facts, go to a file room at the Schnader Harrison law firm, where 76 boxes marked Chadwick are stacked floor to ceiling.
Surely you remember the basics: Beatty Chadwick, a corporate lawyer with blue blood and a stubborn streak, was accused of hiding $2.5 million from his then-wife, Bobbie, rather than turn it over in one of the Main Line's most salacious divorces.
In court in 1993, Chadwick said he transferred most of the couple's assets to Gibraltar, of all places, to satisfy a murky debt. Bobbie Chadwick's lawyer, Albert Momjian, contended that the alleged "debt" was a fraud; Beatty Chadwick had hidden the funds around the world so his ex wouldn't see a cent.
A judge agreed and ordered Chadwick to return the money. He refused, was held in contempt, and was arrested in 1995. For reasons only Beatty Chadwick knows, he then chose to spend 14 years behind bars in Delaware County rather than give in to his former flame.
Chadwick was finally released in 2009 when a judge determined that the epic incarceration had lost its "coercive" effect.
The man who had served the longest contempt term in U.S. history was finally free. And where better to start over than on the Internet?
Who's your sugar daddy?
"Yes, it is I," Chadwick says with a chuckle when I ask if he's beattychad. "I am testing the waters. I haven't met anyone yet."
Beattychad is a highly paid lawyer, but Beatty Chadwick is not. His license was suspended. He tells me he's working in real estate development, but is vague on his income: "I don't know why [the dating profile he created] would say I was making a lot of money."
Chadwick is 74, not 54. Of this deception he jokes, "I didn't count the years I spent in jail."
Beattychad has been on the prowl for a month, much to the horror of the former Mrs. Chadwick.
"Unbelievable!" Barbara "Bobbie" Applegate shrieks upon hearing about her ex's online role-playing when reached at her new home in Maine. "He's sick. He's crazy. He's always been a person who didn't have to live by the rules."
Sitting behind his desk, Momjian the lawyer smiles and asks for a copy of Chadwick's online persona. The divorce was finalized long ago, but the financial case drags on.
"We've had him back in court since his release," Momjian tells me. "We've asked for his tax returns. He's still not cooperating."
Momjian seems particularly intrigued by Chadwick's luring women with the promise of pricey European vacations and wine tasting.
"I would imagine that $2.5 million grew, wherever it was," the lawyer surmises. Whether the stolen funds doubled or tripled, "we're going to get that money."
If not, there's always Plan B: "I'd do anything to get him back in jail."