November 28, 2012

After mostly silence, Jill Kelley defends herself

The Tampa socialite at the center of a scandal involving Gen. David Petraeus seems to be trying to change the narrative about her friendship with the general.

Tamara Lush and Terry Spencer / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Jill Kelley leaves her home in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 13. The scandal this week cost Kelley her appointment as an honorary consul for the South Korean government, which she had gotten because of her friendship with Gen. David Petraeus. The Koreans said she had misused the title in her personal business dealings.

AP

There were no other emails until Victor sent one Nov. 9, when Kelley's name surfaced in the Petraeus scandal. He wrote two more times after that before she responded.

When she finally did, he sent back another email in which he remarked, "When I heard about Petraeus, I thought of you." In a follow-up email, he asked if she was still in a position to help with Korea. She didn't respond.

In a Nov. 14 interview with the AP, Victor said it had become clear that Kelley was not a skilled negotiator and that he had wasted his time dealing with her.

In a letter released Tuesday and dated Nov. 21, Lowell accused Victor of seeking his "15 minutes of fame" by talking to the news media about his client. Lowell said Victor had defamed Kelley with his clients and misstated her desire for 2 percent of the profits by saying she wanted 2 percent of the entire deal. Lowell also accused Victor of unspecified inappropriate behavior toward Kelley.

"If you want to continue seeking publicity for yourself, that is one thing," Lowell wrote to Victor. "However, if you do that by maligning a person, that is something else." He then accused Victor of casting Kelley in a false light and suggested his attorney contact Lowell to discuss the matter.

Victor told the AP late Tuesday that he never accused Kelley of wrongdoing, but had just said she was naive and not an experienced negotiator. He also said his female assistant was present every time he met with Kelley.

"It's not a crime to be a novice," Victor said. "I don't know why they are talking to me."

The third letter was sent from Kelley's attorney Tuesday to the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program, which handles complaints about lawyers on behalf of the Florida Bar. In that letter, Lowell accused Tampa attorney Barry Cohen of breaking attorney-client privilege by publicly speaking about conversations he had with Kelley in 2009 while representing her in a dispute she had with a tenant. In those conversations, Lowell said, they discussed her friendships with various military personnel.

Kelley's sister, Natalie Khawam, once worked as an attorney in Cohen's firm and later sued him for sexual harassment and breach of contract. In court responses, Cohen said Khawam "has a judicially documented recent history and continuing propensity for the commission of perjury."

Cohen said Tuesday evening that he had not seen Lowell's complaint letter and that Kelley had "lost the battle in the court of public opinion."

"No matter how many high-priced lawyers and publicists she employs, she has been exposed for what she is," he said.

Prior to Tuesday, Kelley, her attorney and her publicist had only publicly addressed the situation once, in a statement to the news media when the scandal first broke.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)