TAMPA — The Tampa socialite who unwittingly triggered an investigation that ended the careers of CIA director David Petraeus and former Central Command leader Gen. John Allen asserted Monday in a lawsuit that the federal government violated her privacy.
Jill Kelley, 38, and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, 47, sued the FBI, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Justice, saying the agencies improperly leaked Jill Kelley's name.
The 65-page lawsuit lists the couple's grievances and demands an apology, an unspecific amount of damages and an admission from the FBI that it violated the Stored Communications Act.
"There was no legally acceptable reason for the government to disclose confidential information about the Kelleys and thereby make them part of the public scandal," the lawsuit states.
Last year, Jill Kelley was named as the tipster in an FBI investigation that ultimately uncovered Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, leading to his resignation.
The affair came to light after Kelley reported threatening emails to the FBI, which turned out to be from Broadwell.
According to the lawsuit, the emails were sent to her anonymously — from someone with the pseudonym "Tampa Angel." They indicated where Kelley had been, which gave the impression she was being stalked, the lawsuit states.
Kelley says she never met Broadwell, though she hosted dinners that included Petraeus, Allen and other top military officials at the couple's Bayshore Boulevard mansion. She served as a sort of social ambassador for MacDill Air Force Base and the U.S. Central Command, where Petraeus and Allen had served.
The Pentagon also investigated Allen over emails he shared with Kelley. And though the Pentagon eventually cleared Allen, he decided to end his military career rather than become NATO commander in Europe.
On Monday, Jill Kelley released a statement through a spokesman, saying she went to law enforcement with a tip about harassing emails because she wanted protection for herself and "top U.S. officials."
However, the couple did not get confidentiality or protection, the prepared statement reads.
"Instead, we received highly hurtful and damaging publicity from willful leaks from high-level government officials that were false and defamatory," it states.
She says she is now working to advocate for privacy rights, "so others don't go through the challenges my friends and family endured."
In particular, the lawsuit points to "cavalier sexual innuendo," saying that the FBI's investigation made it seem as if Kelley was having an affair with FBI Agent Frederick Humphries, a friend and the man she told about the emails.
According to the lawsuit: "Mrs. Kelley's reputation is indelibly tainted. She is consistently referred to as the 'center' of the 'sex scandal' and is often portrayed as the woman who brought down two American generals.
"As a result, she — the victim and a participant in none of the bad acts in the sex scandal — has shouldered the blame as the villain in the generals' downfall."
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3433.