Florida socialite Jill Kelley - Philadelphia's connection to the scandal that brought down a CIA chief last year - has filed suit with her husband, Scott, against the FBI and the Defense Department for violating their privacy and damaging their reputations.
"We received highly hurtful and damaging publicity from willful leaks from high-level government officials that were false and defamatory," according to a statement the Kelleys released Monday. "In addition, we also learned that our personal emails were wrongfully searched, and improperly disclosed."
Kelley, who grew up with a twin sister and two older siblings in Northeast Philadelphia, went to the FBI last June after receiving threatening emails.
The investigation led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus shortly after the November election, and included his admission, "I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair."
The affair turned out to be with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, who was in Afghanistan with the four-star general when he was commander of U.S. Forces. The book, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, was released in January 2012.
Broadwell allegedly sent Kelley emails warning her to stay away from Petraeus and his successor in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.
Kelley, who has denied any romantic ties to either man, knew all sorts of high-ranking military officials, partly through hosting parties as a kind of social ambassador for MacDill Air Force Base.
Kelley has acknowledged that some of the emails she exchanged with Allen were "flirtatious."
"I mean we never had an affair, but I guess at two in the morning, when he's e-mailing me, sometimes he'd be flirtatious," she told the New Republic.
News about those emails, though, didn't originate with Kelley. In November, for example, "a senior defense official" was quoted about "inappropriate communications" between Kelley and Allen by the Associated Press.
Allen wound up withdrawing his nomination to become NATO's supreme allied commander.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages and an apology, includes an allegation that FBI agents ordered her to leave her children and get into their vehicle, "demanding that she not make them do something in front of her children that may terrify them."
They asked her "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," the suit states.
While Kelley, born Jill Khawam, was growing up in the Northeast, the family ran a Middle Eastern restaurant, Sahara, in Voorhees, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
"The family later moved to Huntingdon Valley and as Jill Kelley grew older, she moved to Philadelphia where she worked in public relations in 1998," according to a story by Barbara Laker.
Jill's twin sister, Natalie Khawam, who got a graduate degree at Temple before becoming a lawyer, also got caught up in the scandal, with reports that she sought Petraeus' help in a custody battle. Natalie Kelley even hired noted celebrity attorney Gloria Allred to help deal with the media and supposed public misconceptions.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or email@example.com.