The Florida socialite who became the second woman embroiled in the David Petraeus affair insists that the former CIA director is just a close friend who is like a grandfather to her children.
Jill Kelley, a "social liaison" for the US military in Tampa, where Petraeus headed US Central Command until June 2010, was identified as the woman whose complaints about threatening emails prompted the FBI investigation that unearthed details of Petraeus's affair with Paula Broadwell.
After stating that she and her husband, Scott, a surgeon, "have been friends with Petraeus and his family for over five years", Kelley, a mother of three, requested privacy and briefly fled their $1.2 million (pounds 756,000) home after being besieged by media during a birthday party for one of her daughters.
Neighbours and friends supported her strenuous denials that she had engaged in anything other than friendship with the retired general. "She would say he was kind of like a grandpa to her girls," said one, who asked not to be named.
Kelley, whose role as "social liaison" is unpaid, was a frequent guest at Central Command functions. After being presented at one event with a certificate naming her an "honorary ambassador" for allied nations, she began using the title minus the "honorary", according to The Associated Press.
She and her husband hosted Petraeus at a party on their lawn for Tampa's annual Gasparilla parade in 2010. He arrived with a 28-car motorcade. Other guests included Pam Bondi, Florida's attorney-general and a close ally of Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate.
Kelley is believed to have provoked the inquiry after receiving messages from anonymous email accounts that reportedly warned her to "back off" and to "stay away from my guy". She has hired Abbe Lowell, a lawyer who defended John Edwards, the former US presidential candidate, against corruption charges that were dropped earlier this year.
Kelley also recruited Judy Smith, a Washington-based crisis manager and former spokesperson for George W Bush, who represented Monica Lewinsky, the intern who had an affair with former president Bill Clinton.
Kelley, who has an identical twin sister, comes from a Lebanese family that moved to Philadelphia in the 1970s. Her parents are believed to have run a restaurant and a vehicle registration company in nearby New Jersey.
Her alleged harasser, Broadwell, a former military officer and fitness fanatic, whose husband is also a senior medic called Scott, has not been seen since news of the scandal broke.
Details of her apparent relationship continued to emerge yesterday, with reports that Petraeus took her with him on a government-funded trip to Paris in July last year. The US defence department did not comment.
No one was at the Broadwells' family home in Charlotte, North Carolina. A spokesperson for Charlotte Radiology Breast Centre, where Dr Broadwell works as a radiologist, refused to comment on his whereabouts.Former CIA chief is 'like a grandfather to my children'