Jill Kelley has finally broken her silence over the Petraeus affair since the scandal erupted three months ago and said that though she never met Paula Broadwell, she tried to blackmail, extort and threaten her'.
Kelley - who has been described as the 'other other woman' - has been accused of many things since the scandal erupted - that she too was having an affair with Petraeus, that they exchanged more than 30,000 emails, that she had an affair with Gen John Allen and that she used cancer charity funds for entertainment purposes.
She said from the moment the blackmailing email was sent to an account she shared with her husband Scott, her life was turned upside down as she went from wealthy Tampa socialite to a maligned, scamming mistress.
Kelley said she was terrified by the anonymous email and admitted in the barrage that followed there was 'blackmail, extortion, threats'. She would later learn they were from biographer Paula Broadwell, whose affair with Petraeus triggered his resignation as CIA director. Speaking to The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, she said she had no idea who Paula was or of her relationship with Petraeus.
When the 37-year-old complained to a friend in the FBI, she had no idea of the chain of events she was about to set in motion - including finding herself accused of having an affair with Gen John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, which both flatly deny.
'I knew I was being stalked. I did what anybody else would have done when they were feeling threatened, to go seek protection from somebody I could trust,' she said.
In the interview, Kelley mainly dwells on the impact the scandal has had on her husband and children, recounting a party she threw soon after for her daughter's seventh birthday. 'It was devastating. To have your privacy invaded is truly...there are no words to describe it,' she said. 'Instead of enjoying a family birthday party, I had paparazzi storming my front lawn, pushing down the door. There are no words to describe the panic and fear at that moment.
'As much as I appreciate that [the media] want to be the first one to come out with a headline, regardless of whether they did any fact-checking, they have to consider the impact they have on our life and our children’s lives,' she says. 'Just because it’s repeated doesn’t make it true. It was living a nightmare.'
Afghanistan General John Allen: Kelley said the pair were just good friends and nothing more The Lebanese-born socialite said a lot of reports in the media were not true, or greatly exaggerated, including that she had exchanged as many as 30,000 emails with Gen Allen. While she did not provide an estimate, she said it was probably somewhere in the hundreds. When asked about her relationship with Allen, whom she met when she hosted a birthday party for Petraeus' wife Holly,
We’re friends, good friends,' she said of the relationship with the former CIA director. 'His wife and me are good friends. Our children are friends.'
'It was pretty straightforward,' Kelley says. That friendship continued by email when Allen was sent to Kabul. The general’s promotion to be commander of NATO forces is on hold while investigators examine the email traffic between him and Kelley - but sources have described it as flirtatious and potentially inappropriate.
But Kelley contests this, saying they were sent from an account she shared with her husband and that sometimes Allen's wife was even copied in. She said it has been particularly difficult for her cancer surgeon husband, who she deems 'an honorable guy' but what she wants the public to know is simple.
'I’m a dedicated mother, a loving wife. We have a very happy, close family. I support the troops. I take pride in feeding the homeless in our community. This whole situation is just very sad.'