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4 Jun, 2013 18:34

Socialite entwined in Petraeus scandal sues Pentagon

Socialite entwined in Petraeus scandal sues Pentagon

Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite who received threatening emails that exposed former CIA Director David Petraeus’ affair, has filed a lawsuit against the FBI and the Defense Department for leaking and defaming her name.

The lawsuit has thrust the woman back into the spotlight one year after she received threatening emails that were eventually linked to Petraeus’ biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell.

The 65-page lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Washington alleges that Kelley and her husband were dragged into the sex scandal for revealing cyberstalking threats attributed to Broadwell. According to the plaintiffs, Kelley was subsequently made into “an object of ridicule, morale opprobrium, scorn and derision, causing her shame, public notoriety, egregious loss of privacy and security.”

While investigating the Petraeus scandal, the Pentagon last year discovered emails between Gen. John Allen and Kelley, correspondence largely reported to the media as “flirtatious,” raising suspicions that the two had also engaged in a separate affair. In January, the Defense Department determined that Gen. Allen did not have an inappropriate relationship with Kelley, but at that point the woman said her reputation had already suffered and her name had been defamed.

“Today is an unforgettable day because one year ago threatening emails shook my life, and ultimately changed our country’s leadership,” Kelley wrote in a statement released by her publicist on Monday.

“It was under the faithful direction of our concerned military leaders, that I went to the law enforcement to seek the proper protection for my family, our commanders and top US officials. But unfortunately, we did not receive the confidentiality and protection. Instead we received highly hurtful and damaging publicity from willful leaks from high level government officials that were false and defamatory,” she added.

The complaint argues that authorities should have kept her name confidential after she reported the emails, since she was a ‘victim’ of harassment and therefore should have had the right to privacy.

Since the Petraeus scandal, Kelley has labeled herself as a privacy advocate and has written about her support for reform in a Washington Post op-ed published in January. In a statement released by her publicist on Monday, she said that she hopes her lawsuit will strengthen privacy procedures for future law enforcement investigations. 

Our government can and should do better than intrude on the privacy and dignity of citizens like my family and yours, and our public officials should treat our personal lives with the respect that our Constitution, laws like the Privacy Act and standards of common decency require,” she wrote. “Until our privacy laws and practices truly give us both privacy and protection, I’ll continue to advocate for reform, so others don’t go through the challenges my friends and family endured.”

But rather than shield her name from public ridicule, filing the lawsuit has to some extent already had the opposite effect, and Kelley’s name has been thrust back into the spotlight. Tampa Bay publicist Glen Selig told ABC News that the lawsuit is likely to shed further negative light on the socialite.

I think the public views her as an opportunist and I think this lawsuit will reinforce that belief,” Selig told the station, explaining that it is unlikely that Americans will perceive Kelley as the victim in this case.

She filed a lawsuit on the anniversary and she released a statement through a publicist,” he added. “It seems to me she wants attention.”

Kelley and her husband are seeking a public apology, attorney’s fees, monetary compensation and a declaration that the FBI violated the Stored Communications Act.