(NEW YORK) — Natalie Khawam, the twin sister of Jill Kelley, refused to answer reporter’s questions Tuesday about how Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen came to write letters on her behalf during her highly volatile custody battle.
During a press conference in Washington, D.C., Gloria Allred, whom Khawam has retained as her lawyer, described Khawam as a “loving, caring mother” and a “highly educated academic scholar and a successful attorney” and aimed to shed a bit of light on Khawam’s relationship with Petraeus and his wife, Holly, as well as correcting some of the reports in the media about her client. Khawam was appearing before the press for the first time since news of her twin sister Jill Kelley’s involvement in the Petraeus scandal emerged.
“Natalie feels that it is important that the public understands why General Petraeus and his wife Holly both filed affidavits in support of her in her custody case. Both have known Natalie and her son personally for many years, and they have had numerous opportunities to observe them together. They have loved Natalie’s child and emotionally supported her and her son through the toughest times in Natalie and her son’s life. They both spoke up in their court declarations in support of Natalie and what a loving protective mom she was. They did so when they learned she was being unfairly portrayed and was a victim of injustice,” Allred said before a throng of media in a ballroom at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C.
“Natalie feels that they stood up for the truth, as they knew it, in her custody case, and she is deeply appreciative that the Petraeus family has continued to love and support her and her son during the hardest times. Natalie feels that both General Petraeus and his wife Holly have made so many sacrifices and contributed so much to our country. She will be forever grateful to both of them for not abandoning her when she needed them the most,” Allred said.
But Allred refused to answer questions about how the Petraeus couple or General Allen came to write the letters, and she declined the opportunity to explain the nature of Khawam’s relationship with Allen, who is being investigated for exchanging potentially flirtatious e-mails with Khawam’s twin sister.
After pausing for a few moments as tears filled her eyes, Khawam described her relationship with her twin sister Jill, discussing their common interests and support they extend to each other.
“My sister Jill and I aren’t just twins. We’re best friends, literally inseparable. Through my darkest hours, Jill held a light for me,” Khawam said. “She and my brother-in-law, Dr. Kelley, took me in with my son when we needed refuge and protection. Jill is the kindest, most generous person I know. We played varsity tennis together. She played net and I served. We also played softball together. She was a catcher and I pitched. We love to cook together. I usually bake and she sautés. We used to study together. I loved math. She loved science and she excelled.”
“We love to play piano and play chess, and our children also love to play piano, chess and cook together. Jill has loved and supported me through the years and I plan to love and support her unconditionally,” Khawam said.
Khawam explained her decision to retain Allred as her lawyer saying she did so “in order to assist me and in order to guide me through what has been a very difficult time for me and my family.”
“I look forward to the day when I’m able to answer everyone’s questions and explain what really happened,” Khawam said.
Allred called reports on Khawam’s custody battle “erroneous” and said a number of women’s groups are filing friends of the court briefs about “significant issues” in Khawam’s case, including restricting her attorney from submitting evidence of alleged domestic violence; “onerous” and “expensive restrictions” regarding visitation; and requiring Khawam to pay for a portion of her ex-husband’s legal fees.
“Because Natalie’s son is so important to her, she felt that she needed to hire attorneys to attempt to reverse what she believes are onerous, unfair and expensive restrictions placed on her by the court,” Allred said. “As a result she has been forced into bankruptcy because of the legal fees and costs of complying with the court order and attempting to reverse it so that she once again can have full custody of her son. Natalie is just one of the many mothers in this country who have been forced to suffer because of family court decisions.”
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Allred noted that Khawam does not have plans to conduct interviews or answer questions from the media in the near future, and Allred refused to answer any questions about Jill Kelley.
Following the press conference, reporters followed Khawam and Allred out of the ballroom and continued to press the two on how the two generals came to write affidavits on behalf of Khawam and questioned whether she was trying to use their prominence to her advantage in the custody battle. Allred and Khawam did not answer any questions.
A representative of Natalie’s ex-husband Grayson Wolfe told ABC News that Allred had obviously not acquainted herself with the record.
In November 2011, the D.C. Superior Court ruled that Wolfe would get sole legal and primary custody of the child.
The judge in the custody dispute wrote that Khawam had “severe psychological deficits” and was “a psychologically unstable person” with an “unsteady moral and ethical compass.”
The judge also wrote that Khawam “has exhibited an utter disregard for the child’s interest” in maintaining a meaningful relationship with his father, that she “has extreme personal deficits in the areas of honesty and integrity,” and that she has exhibited a “willingness to say anything, even under oath, to advance her own personal interests at the expense” of her husband, the child, and others.
“The court fully expects that Ms. Khawam’s pattern of misrepresentations about virtually everything, including the most important aspects of her life, will continue indefinitely,” the judge wrote.
It is not currently known if Petraeus or Allen knew about the judge’s harsh comments regarding Khawam, but the two wrote letters on Khawam’s behalf almost a year later in September 2012.
Petraeus stated that he and his wife had known Khawam for about three years, getting to know her while serving in Tampa, and maintaining their friendship since then.
“We have seen a very loving relationship — a Mother working hard to provide her son enjoyable, educational, and developmental experiences,” Petraeus wrote, according to a copy of the letter posted on Scribd. “Natalie clearly dotes on her son and goes to great lengths–and great expense–to spend quality time with him.”
A letter from Allen to the court also painted a portrait of a loving and devoted mother who “places the needs of her son above her own.”
Natalie Khawam is also deeply in debt and filed for bankruptcy in Florida in April 2012. In a document filed with the Tampa Division of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Khawam cited $350,000 in assets and $3.6 million in liabilities, including $800,000 owed to her sister and brother-in-law. Her listed personal property included six Chanel purses, a Cartier watch, and a trove of diamond jewelry valued at $50,000, including the watch. The items are in the possession of Khawam’s ex-husband, according to the court documents.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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