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Jill Kelley says she was blackmailed by Paula Broadwell

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM

The South Tampa socialite and her husband broke their silence twice today on the scandal that prompted the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus and thrust them into the national spotlight.

First, in her first public comments since the scandal, Jill Kelley told The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz she received several threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, the biographer whose affair with Petraeus triggered his resignation in November.

Later, Kelley and her husband, Scott, wrote an opinion piece that appeared on The Washington Post's website, saying the media "made us prisoners in our own home" after the news broke.

Kelley told Kurtz her husband, Scott, received the first of these emails on their shared email account as he was about to board an airplane.

Kelley also denied earlier reports that Broadwell sent the emails as a warning for Kelley to stay away from Petraeus because Broadwell viewed her as a romantic rival.

They were among several points Kelley made to The Daily Beast.

Contradicting earlier reports that Broadwell viewed Kelley as competition for Petraeus' affection, Kelley said the emails - which began as anonymous warnings - began when Broadwell became threatened by Kelley's close relationship with Petraeus.

"I never met Paula in my life," said Kelley, who also told The Daily Beast that "she knew she was being stalked" by Broadwell and sought protection by consulting an FBI acquaintance (Fred Humphries) who caused some controversy of his own by jokingly sending Kelley a shirtless photo of himself.

"I did what anybody else would have done when they were feeling threatened, to go seek protection from somebody I could trust," said Kelley, who also characterized herself as "a dedicated mother" and "a loving wife" who takes "pride in feeding the homeless in our community."

"This whole situation is just very sad," she told The Daily Beast.

In other revelations:

In The Washington Post piece, the Kelleys wrote that after she became linked to the Petraeus story and the news media besieged her home, her family did "most people unaccustomed to such a blitzkrieg would do: walled it off in the hopes the storm would fade or pass."

The Kelleys said that amid their silence, the media "filled our silence with innuendo and falsehoods," including spurious reports that she had flown on military flights for free and that they were financially struggling.

They also said "the insinuation that Jill was involved in an extramarital affair is as preposterous as it is hurtful to our family."

The Kelleys said they reached out to law enforcement in the form of FBI agent Frederick Humphries, but that resulted in "slanderous allegations" after the story of the shirtless photo came to light.

The couple concludes the piece with a plea for Congress to tighten privacy protection.

"Our story stands as a cautionary tale," they wrote. "We have experienced how careless handling of our information by law enforcement and irresponsible news headlines endanger citizens' privacy. We know our lives will never be the same, and we want to prevent others from having their privacy invaded merely for reporting abusive, potentially criminal, behavior."

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