Jill Kelley leaves her home Nov. 13 in Tampa, Fla. Kelley and her husband are claiming in a lawsuit that the government willfully leaked damaging information about them in the scandal that led to the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director. (Chris O'Meara / AP)
WASHINGTON — The Tampa socialite whose complaints about cyber stalking exposed the affair that brought down David Petraeus filed a lawsuit Monday that accuses federal officials of violating her privacy.
Jill Kelley and her husband, Scott, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia seeking an apology and unspecified damages from what they say were willful leaks by federal officials of false and damaging information about them. Those officials should have been protecting them and their privacy, they say.
“Instead we received highly hurtful and damaging publicity from willful leaks from high-level government officials that were false and defamatory,” Jill Kelley said in a statement. “In addition, we also learned that our personal emails were wrongfully searched, and improperly disclosed.”
Jill Kelley had asked the FBI to investigate emails she found threatening. Those emails came from Paula Broadwell, who was the biographer of Petraeus, then the CIA director. The two had an extramarital affair that caused Petraeus to step down.
Also implicated in the scandal was John Allen, who as a Marine Corps general had been the No. 2 officer at Central Command in Tampa and who went on to be the top officer in Afghanistan. The Pentagon investigated Allen for “potentially inappropriate” emails with Kelley, who had hosted several parties at her Tampa home for military leaders.
Allen, Pentagon officials say, was exonerated by an inspector general’s report that found no wrongdoing with the emails. However, the military has refused to release the 21-page report, which USA Today and other media outlets have requested, saying it would “constitute an unwarranted invasion” of personal privacy rights. Allen, who had been chosen to lead NATO, retired from the military after the matter became public.
Kelley, in a draft copy of her complaint obtained by USA Today, maintains that government officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, are to blame.
“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,” according to a draft copy of the complaint.