Tampa woman can pursue part of lawsuit over Petraeus scandal leak

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 15, 2014 1:56 PM

By Aruna Viswanatha

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Tampa, Florida woman can proceed with part of an invasion of privacy lawsuit against the U.S. government over leaks to the media about her connection to a scandal over former CIA Director David Patraeus' extramarital affair, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Last year, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley and her husband Scott sued the FBI, the Department of Defense (DOD) and several government officials, saying they wilfully leaked damaging and false information about the couple.

While U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed 13 of the 14 counts against most defendants in the lawsuit, she let part of one count related to privacy violations move forward. She also allowed a few other counts to move forward only against some unnamed officials.

The lawsuit is "a long, overwrought, and argumentative document, and its 225 paragraphs are full of indignation while being thin on facts," Jackson said in a 76-page ruling.

The judge said that as the case proceeds, Kelley will have to show evidence that government officials gave private information about the couple to the media.

"Eventually, plaintiffs will need to come forward with specific information linking the alleged disclosures to defendants FBI and DOD, as opposed to 'unnamed' government sources, but they have met their burden at this time to allege...the disclosures came from defendants and were intentional and willful," Jackson said.

Kelley had been friends with Petraeus and another general through activities with an air force base in Tampa. Her name surfaced a few days after Petraeus, the retired U.S. Army general credited with helping keep Iraq from full-scale civil war, quit the CIA in 2012 over an affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.

Kelley had complained to the FBI that she had received anonymous, harassing emails from someone, who turned out to be Broadwell.

The FBI opened an investigation, which eventually led to the uncovering of Petraeus' extramarital relationship and to the publication of allegations about Kelley's relationship with the other general.

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by David Gregorio)