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    Petraeus, Allen backed Kelley’s sister in custody dispute in court

    In this 2010 photo. David Petraeus (second from left), Scott and Jill Kelley, and Holly Petraeus (right) attended a parade in Tampa, Fla.
    Amu Scherzer/The Tampa Bay Times/AP File
    In this 2010 photo, (left to right) Natalie Khawam, David Petraeus, Scott and Jill Kelley, and Holly Petraeus (right) attended a parade in Tampa, Fla.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In the latest twist of the David Petraeus sex scandal, court records show the former CIA director and Gen. John Allen intervened last September in a messy custody dispute on behalf of Jill Kelley’s sister, whom a judge described as dishonest and lacking integrity.

    Kelley is the woman who received harassing emails from Petraeus’ biographer and paramour, according to US officials. She also is thought to have exchanged flirtatious communications with Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan. Pentagon investigators are now examining Allen’s relationship with Kelley.

    The new court files are significant because they provide of a fuller picture of the twins’ connections to Petraeus and Allen, two powerful figures ensnared in the scandal. It also raises questions why two decorated generals would vouch for Kelley’s twin sister, Natalie Khawam, who had piles of legal troubles in recent years.


    Petraeus resigned Friday as CIA director after disclosures that author Paula Broadwell sent the emails to Kelley, who in turn went to the FBI, setting off a series of stunning revelations that have engulfed Washington just days after President Barack Obama was re-elected.

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    Both Allen and Petraeus wrote letters in September supporting Khawam in her ongoing fight to keep custody of her son, D.C. Superior Court records show. Allen met Khawam, 37, when he was deputy commander of US Central Command in Tampa, where they attended social functions. Petraeus said he met Khawam three years ago through Kelley.

    Both men said she was a loving mother and asked the judge in the case to drop onerous visitation restrictions. ‘‘In light of Natalie’s maturity, integrity and steadfast commitment to raising her child, I humbly request your reconsideration of the existing, mandated custody settlement,’’ Allen said.

    But Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz a year earlier criticized Khawam for her behavior and said her ‘‘misrepresentations about virtually everything’’ would continue.

    ‘‘Ms. Khawam appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers and others with whom she comes in contact,’’ he wrote in November 2011.


    Not only did the judge in the case award her ex-husband custody last year of their 3-year-old son, John, but he also told Khawam to pay his legal bills amounting to $350,000. Khawam filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April after racking up more than $3 million in debt, according to federal court records.

    The status of her most recent custody appeal was not immediately known.

    Khawam did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

    Her relationship with her ex-husband, Grayson Wolfe, grew to levels of remarkable acrimony as detailed in court papers. She made repeated claims of abuse, which the judge called ‘‘an ever-expanding set of sensational accusations’’ against Wolfe that were ‘‘numerous,’’ ‘'extraordinary,’’ and, ‘‘so distorted that they defy any common sense view of reality.’’

    One case included a visit to Children’s National Medical Center in December 2011 — a month after the judge granted custody to Wolfe — to treat alleged bruises to the child’s nose and finger, hospital records show. Khawam told doctors her son complained of Wolfe hitting him, but court records show the child later recanted his statement. Wolfe’s lawyer said the abuse report was a fabrication.


    All told, it was a very different dynamic than what the two generals said they witnessed.

    ‘‘We have seen a very loving relationship — a mother working hard to provide her son enjoyable, educational and developmental experiences,’’ Petraeus said in September, referring to when he hosted the family for Christmas dinner. ‘‘It is clear to me that John would benefit from much more time with his mother and from removal of the burdensome restrictions imposed on her when she does get to spend time with him.’’