THE estranged wife of Chicago Cubs star Ben Zobrist hit back against "ugly accusations" made against her, days before she was publicly accused of having an affair with the couple's pastor.
Julianna Zobrist, a Christian pop singer, is seeking $4 million from Ben as part of a divorce settlement, claiming he allegedly failed to "preserve marital assets" when he took a leave of absence from the MLB in 2019.
In court documents, first obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Julianna claims the 2016 World Series winner "intentionally and voluntarily" stopped working at the "top of his game" and gave up, affecting household income.
She is seeking an even split of their assets and $4 million, which she claims is the amount he "failed to preserve by abruptly and intentionally failing to satisfy his baseball contract.”
It came after Ben, 40, filed a lawsuit in May demanding $6 million from Nashville-based Pastor Byron Yawn, who he claims had an affair with Julianna while serving as the couple's marriage counselor.
According to documents from the suit, obtained by The Peoria Journal Star, Julianna began talking to the Community Bible Church pastor in 2018, and the relationship soon became sexual.
She admitted to her husband that she'd had an emotional affair with Yawn in May 2019, and the outfield took a leave of absence from the Cubs days later. It was only in June 2020 that Julianna admitted that she and Yawn had been sexually involved, documents state.
'TEMPTED TO RETALIATE'
Before filing her suit, Julianna released a pre-emptive statement on her Instagram on July 6, deriding "ugly accusations" made against her.
"There have been many ugly accusations made about me publicly in recent days," she wrote. "And this has created an expectation that I should respond by defending myself—and maybe even offering a few ugly accusations in return. Isn’t that how these kinds of things always play out?
"I am choosing to protect my children’s hearts by not saying hurtful things about their father in public.
"My attention is focused on caring for them during this difficult time, and I refuse to divert my energy to slinging mud and publicly reveal personal details of my previous relationship in order to score sympathy points."
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Julianna continued that while it's "tempting to retaliate or seek revenge when someone decides to hurt, slander, or lie about you," she is choosing not to speak publicly on the matter.
"It’s difficult to remember that those who harm us are acting out of their own pain. Wounded people need healing, and that’s what I pray finds every person who is so lost in their pain that they resort to inflicting harm on others.
"My reconfigured family—a resilient mother and her three remarkably brave children—are building something healthy, safe and beautiful where shame does not abide."
Ben's attorney, Helen S. Rogers, has since released a statement about the claims Julianna made in her legal filing, calling them "utterly absurd."
Contrary to Julianna's claims that Ben "chose" to take time away from the MLB, Rogers said her alleged affair with Yawn caused baseball star so much "extreme mental distress" that he had no other choice but to step away.
The attorney also claimed Julianna "coaxed" her husband into returning to the Cubs.
“Rather than accepting blame for having torn her husband’s heart out by having an affair with their pastor, she expected him to be able to totally focus in an elite athletic job that required (100%) of his physical and mental energy,” Rogers wrote in a filing to the judge.
"It is Mrs. Zobrist, by having the extramarital affair and confessing same to her husband, and not disclosing the true extent of her affair, that caused him such extreme mental distress and difficulty that resulted in an inability to finish his long and very successful career in the way that he had hoped for and planned for.”
The pair's divorce proceedings are set to begin on August 9.
BEN LOST $8M IN SALARY
Ben Zobrist took a leave of absence from the Cubs in May 2019.
The outfielder missed four months and lost $8million in salary, half of which Julianna is now demanding for herself, along with half of the pair's total assets.
Her suit argues that because of the leave, Ben “essentially went from the top of his game to basically giving up, which caused a massive loss in income.”
In pretrial documents, her attorney states: "In 2019, he[Ben] had a contract with the Chicago Cubs for ($12 million), but since he only played for 2 months, his salary was prorated and he only earned ($4.5 million) of the ($12 million) he could have earned."
Julianna also alleges that she was forced to "manage [her] husband's behavior" because of his struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
She argues that she supported Ben throughout his "often-rigorous baseball schedule, many of the games lasting late at night, with all three children in tow."
Ben, meanwhile, is pushing for a 60-40 split of assets, claiming that Julianna overspent their estate by “at least $691,602.86."
'AFFAIR' FOILED IN 2019
In his separate suit against Yawn, he alleged the pastor and Julianna had an affair while Yawn was their pastor at Community Bible Church in Nashville.
According to the Tribune, Yawn served as the couple’s pre- and post-marital counselor, and that he and Julianna started talking more in 2018 and then had a sexual relationship in 2019.
The pair allegedly communicated with one another via pre-paid burner phones.
The affair was reportedly foiled when Yawn's wife found one of the devices her husband was using to text Julianna and informed Ben.
Yawn is also accused of having Zobrist sign autographs, get tickets for baseball games, host events at his home and send personal messages to newly baptized members of the church.
The suit also claimed that Yawn received $3,500 monthly checks from a nonprofit Zobrist founded for two months after he was fired as executive director in March 2019.
He is suing Yawn for $6 million, alleging "intentional inflection of emotional distress" and defrauding his charity.
Julianna has been contacted for comment.
In a statement, Yawn said: "At the end of the day, a woman has the right to choose who she wants to be with.
"We’re in the middle of litigation, so I can’t really comment further at this point, but that’s what it boils down to."
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