Jill Kelley, the Tampa "socialite" who inadvertently led the FBI to evidence of Paula Broadwell and David Petreaus's affair, is suing the FBI, the Department of Defense and other unnamed government officials because, she says, the agencies violated her privacy, as well as that of her husband. This is bound to get Kelley back in the headlines again, months after she told the media that she wanted to stay out of the media.
The 65-page suit, with both Jill and her husband Dr. Scott Kelley named as plaintiffs, doesn't name specific officials at any of the departments. Kelley, as you may remember, reported Broadwell to the FBI over a series of allegedly harassing emails, starting a chain of events that led to the discovery of Broadwell's affair with Petraeus. Her lawsuit alleges that 1) the government wrongfully searched her personal emails in the process and 2) that the government violated her privacy by leaking pertinent information to the media. It reads:
"Rather than protect the Kelleys’ privacy interests as the law and their duty required, Defendants instead willfully and maliciously thrust the Kelleys into the maw of public scrutiny concerning one of the most widely reported sex scandals to rock the United States government. Defendants violated their legal duty to protect the Kelleys’ privacy, dignity, reputation, and security, and instead started, engaged with, and fomented a malicious campaign of “blame the victim” that has taken a tremendous emotional and financial toll on the Kelleys and their three young daughters, and even threatened their physical safety."
And insinuates that their case is the tip of the iceberg:
"If Defendants can wreak such emotional, reputational, and financial havoc on a couple as educated, intelligent, successful, and public-spirited as the Kelleys, they could certainly do so to anyone. Accordingly, this suit seeks not only to vindicate Plaintiffs’ legal rights, help restore their reputations, champion the truth, and otherwise attempt to make them whole, but also to deter Defendants from such egregious violations of privacy in the future."
The scandal also ended the career of Gen. John Allen, after the email trove also revealed a substantial exchange between Allen and Kelley, who denies that the two were sexually involved. Allen was cleared of any wrongdoing after an investigation, but he still retired earlier this year. Kelley also claims that, months before the scandal broke, she was forced to answer questions about her relationship to both Allen and Petraeus, who was a friend of hers, by FBI agents in a van:
"...they then demanded she answer bewildering questions regarding her relationship with Director Petraeus and General Allen—including insinuations and accusations that she was engaged in adulterous activity—for approximately 30 minutes. Comments made by Agent Malone made it further apparent to Mrs. Kelley that her status as victim was not a priority for the agents, being subsumed, if not entirely overcome, by other considerations such as career ambitions. After this harrowing experience, the agents deposited Mrs. Kelley alone, without her luggage, at the airport."
Kelley also argues that her treatment — specifically her framing as the catalyst if the sex scandal and therefore responsible for the end of both Allen and Petraeus's careers — was sexist:
"Such treatment was the product of sexual discrimination and stereotyping by Defendants. It is a recrudescence of an older culture where ambitious, attractive, vivacious and intelligent women were shamefully reduced to mere sex objects and publicly humbled when they dared to lean in to leadership roles."
The Kelleys' claim that the entire ordeal had cost financially and on their reputation. They're seeking an apology and unspecified damages. As of Monday, the Department of Justice hasn't commented on the suit, according to multiple reports.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.