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What can be learned through the Petraeus scandal

It appears that with every high-level sex scandal, a trail of emails is the proverbial "trail of breadcrumbs" that ultimately leads to a powerful person's demise. Such was the case of former four-star general and CIA Director David Petraeus. The revelation of his extra-marital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell has led to his resignation.

The scandal allegedly began when a Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family, alerted the FBI after receiving harassing emails which she believed were an attempt to blackmail Petraeus. The FBI traced to a dummy account allegedly created by Broadwell, and uncovered a history correspondence that unearthed the affair. Speculation abounds regarding as to whether Broadwell threatened Kelley because of how close Kelley had become to Petraeus.

FBI Agents recently searched Broadwell's North Carolina home (which coincidentally is near Rielle Hunter's home) and it is unknown whether she will be charged with a crime. Cyber-harassment is a federal crime.

The recent revelations underscore the fact that electronic communications are discoverable in divorce and child custody proceedings. This means that emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and statements posted to Twitter can be retrieved and used in court. More importantly, statements put on social media forums are permanent. They can be retrieved even after they are deleted or if the page is later taken down. Attorneys are constantly amazed at what they may find online or through emails.

Suffice it to say, if you do not want something potentially read to a family court judge, do not send it through email or post it online.

Source: Fox, Timeline of Petraeus affair scandal, November 13, 2012

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