Tiger Woods' Ex Rachel Uchitel on Erica Herman's Case Against Him and Why She Regrets Her Own NDA (Exclusive)
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If anyone knows what Tiger Woods' ex, Erica Herman, is facing in her legal fight with the golf legend, it's another well-known ex, Rachel Uchitel, who says Herman has a serious uphill battle because she's facing off "against a machine."
Earlier this week, Herman filed the lawsuit against Woods in the Circuit Court of the 19th Judicial Circuit in Martin County, Florida, and cited the Speak Out Act as the reason the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she signed at the start of their relationship in August 2017 should be voided, as the act protects victims of sexual assault or harassment.
In the legal documents, Herman checked the box "yes" when asked "Does this case involve allegations of sexual abuse?" While she did not offer any specifics about the allegations, Herman says nullifying the NDA would bring some clarity.
In her court filing, obtained by ET, Herman says she is "unsure whether she may disclose, among other things, facts giving rise to various legal claims she believes she has. She is also currently unsure what other information about her own life she may discuss or with whom. There is therefore an active dispute between [Herman] and [Woods] for which [she] needs a clarifying declaration from the court."
As a result of this week's filing, other legal docs have come to light that shows the fractured relationship between Woods and Herman. In a lawsuit filed last October, Herman claimed that "agents" of Woods used "trickery" to get her to leave the home for a "short vacation" only to then lock her out of the home they shared.
Herman claimed in the suit that the couple had an "oral agreement" that ensured she could live at the mansion for a total of 11 years, and she still had five years remaining when they split up. She argued in the lawsuit that she is entitled to compensation of roughly $30 million.
Speaking with ET's Kevin Frazier, Uchitel, 48, says that while she doesn't know specifics about Herman's legal battle against Woods, she does offer sage advice that could help her in the credibility department.
"When you're trying to get your story out, my advice would be, don't make it about money," Uchitel tells ET. "If you want to tell your story, fight for your voice and let the money drop to the wayside. Fight for the freedom to tell your story and don't make it about money. When you make it about money, no one believes you. That would be my advice."
Uchitel told The New York Times in August 2021 that she negotiated a $5 million payout and a promise of $1 million annually for three years to follow, though the net figure was substantially less following taxes, legal fees and, according to Uchitel, Woods' team balking at the first $1 million payment. In return, Uchitel had to sign an NDA that was more than 30 pages long.
These revelations came to light after Uchitel was featured in HBO's Tiger, a two-part docuseries that focused on his meteoric rise and fall, as well as his epic comeback (the first of two). The documentary featured never-before-seen footage and revealing interviews with those who were once close with Woods, including Uchitel, who in 2009 found herself in the limelight after she was exposed as the woman in the middle of his cheating scandal that unraveled Woods' personal and professional life.
In hindsight, Uchitel tells ET that she never would have signed the NDA.
"It ruined my life," she says.
Uchitel also has major regrets about taking the payout.
"Oh, 100 percent," she says. "The money was nothing compared to what I got in return. The hatred. How my life turned out after. It's been so difficult. The lesson that I learned is that no amount of money gets your life back. I'd rather be poor and homeless than have to go through what I endured. I lost all sense of respect, self-worth, friends, family. I mean it. No amount of money can repay what happened to me."
Uchitel, who will be launching her own podcast dubbed Miss Understood, says what she went through gives her added perspective, enough to weigh in on what Herman will be going up against, though she admits she doesn't want to get involved in Herman's legal battle.
"I've obviously been in her shoes. We have something in common, right? But she has an uphill battle in front of her," Uchitel says. "I think that she has a lot of things ahead of her that she's gonna have to get through. You know, Tiger's team is very ... he's got a lot of money. He has a machine behind him, and she's just one person. So, she has a lot of work to do if she wants to prove a case."
ET has reached out to Woods and Herman for comment.
Uchitel, who gave birth to daughter Wyatt Lilly in 2010, says she's spent the last 14 years of her life having a very difficult time finding her footing because she wasn't able to have her own voice and speak her truth due to her signing an NDA.
"And not even about that situation," she says, referring to her relationship with Woods. "But when so many people want to speak about a situation and you're not allowed to speak about it, it's really difficult and you really are unable to find your way through life when it is the biggest scandal. I've had to live with a stigma about me to this day, and I find that it's a stigma that does not leave me. And it's Rachel: 'Tiger Woods' mistress.' And I can't get away from that. It's really, really been hard because I don't get my own comeback, you know?"
Uchitel says there have been times when events in her own personal life constituted a violation of the NDA, things that were out of her control, such as merely being pregnant.
"Any time I was written about in the paper, any time. I did one thing that I was literally [being] written about, I was breaking the NDA, which was crazy," she said. "I remember there was an article in TMZ that I was pregnant. That was a violation of my NDA. It became so debilitating because I would get a letter every time I was in the paper because [the headline would read] 'Rachel, Tiger Woods' mistress, is pregnant.' That was a violation. I would get a letter but it had nothing to do with him. It was just the fact that it was connecting me to him because of my name. So this was the cloud I had to live under, and I would get violations constantly for years and years. It was horrible."
When she filed for bankruptcy a few years ago, Uchitel claims Woods' team "tried to overturn my bankruptcy, and I had to fight them for that as well. I've been in court with these people for years and years and years of my life."
Uchitel says her podcast will feature those who have been reduced to a single headline, like herself.
"And it's gonna basically reveal the human behind the headline," she adds. "I want to narrate my own story, and then I want to have people on who feel the same and really talk about the complexities of the human experience and celebrate the power of second chances."
Some of her upcoming podcast guests include former NBA star Matt Barnes, famed celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and others.
As for what the future holds, Uchitel is ecstatic about the podcast and an upcoming book, which she's currently pitching.
"I'm really excited to have my voice back," she says.
But, nearly two decades later, the one question that continues to linger is, why did she sign the NDA?
"That's a much longer story that I will get into eventually, and I will be happy to tell that story," she says. "But, you know, it was something that I was happy to do at the time. But it was because I thought I was doing the right thing."
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