Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Ex-wife says Ryan pushed sex clubs
June 22, 2004


Actress Jeri Ryan accused ex-husband Jack Ryan of insisting she go to "explicit sex clubs" in New York, New Orleans and Paris during their marriage -- including "a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling."

Jack Ryan wanted her to have sex with him while others watched, the star of "Boston Public" alleged.

The Republican U.S. Senate candidate dismissed his ex-wife's allegations as "ridiculous accusations" and "smut" that she was dishing out without concern about how it would make their young son "feel about his parents or himself."

Those were the key revelations in documents from a 2000 and 2001 child custody battle that a judge ordered unsealed Monday.

A former investment banker, Jack Ryan declined to revisit the allegations Monday, saying he stands by his earlier court response. And Ryan insisted he did not mislead anyone by arguing he was only trying to protect the couple's 9-year-old son and suggesting the documents contained nothing embarrassing.

But at least three GOP leaders are fuming over the disclosures, saying they do not square with what Ryan told them to expect.

State Republican chairman Judy Baar Topinka believes Ryan lied to her by suggesting the papers contained nothing embarrassing, a source close to Topinka said.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar was stunned to hear about Jeri Ryan's allegations after Jack Ryan called Edgar over the weekend to describe the files, but made no mention of the sex clubs. Based on that characterization, Edgar told reporters earlier in the day the files would not likely sink Ryan's campaign.

"Edgar kind of feels like he took this guy at his word and is kind of stunned it could be different from what he was told," the source said.

And Downstate U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) called on Ryan to step down. "I think there's no way the people in Illinois will countenance the type of information and activity he was involved with."

Ryan called the uproar over allegations that he urged his then-wife to have sex in front of others "a new low for politics" during a Tuesday morning appearance on Chicago's WLS-AM. "It seems to me it's just a new standard, and I don't think it's healthy for our democracy."

Ryan said he was fit for high public office, noting that the court documents reveal no violations of earthly or higher laws.

"I think my character has been proven by this," Ryan said in an interview on WBEZ-FM. "There's no breaking of any laws. There's no breaking of any marriage laws. There's no breaking of the Ten Commandments anywhere. And so I think if that's the worst people can say about me in the heat of a difficult dispute I think it speaks very well about my character."

Offered the chance to deny that he visited sex clubs or wanted his wife to have sex in public, Ryan demurred and suggested Jeri Ryan's allegations would have little political traction.

"Well, we were married for almost eight years," he said. "The worst of that was over ... eight years that we went to places that she felt uncomfortable. That's the worst of it.

"If that's the worst, then I think people will say, gosh, that guy's lived a pretty clean life."

During an hourlong news conference at the Chicago Hilton and Towers yesterday, Ryan supplied reporters with copies of the hundreds of pages of documents that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert A. Schnider had just unsealed.

They are part of a child custody battle after the couple's 1999 divorce. Schnider unsealed them after the Chicago Tribune and WLS- argued voters had a right to know what was in the documents.

The Ryans said they were "disturbed and angered" by the decision but decided not to appeal.

"No parent wants the information or disagreements between themsleves put in front of their children," Ryan said Tuesday on WBEZ. "Basic parenting skills say you don't have disagreements that you share with the children. That's why Jeri Lynn and I tried so hard to keep those records sealed."

Ryan released a statement from his ex-wife that made no mention of the sex clubs, but said Jack Ryan never physically abused her or was unfaithful to her -- two allegations that were not in any of the court filings released Monday. "In response to rumors that have been circulating, there was never any physical abuse in our marriage -- either to myself or to our son," Jeri Ryan said in the statement. "Nor, to my knowledge, was he ever unfaithful to me.

"Jack is a good man, a loving father, and he shares a strong bond with our son," Jeri Ryan said. "I wish him all the best, both in his life and career. I have no doubt that he will make an excellent senator."

Jeri Ryan hinted in the papers that she was unfaithful during their marriage, saying she told Ryan shortly before she filed for divorce in 1998 that she had fallen in love with another man "after our relationship had fallen apart." She said Ryan blamed the breakup on her "affair."

Ryan repeatedly refused to discuss the allegations, saying it would further harm their son. He would only refer reporters back to his original court response. "Jeri Lynn and I long ago put these issues behind us," Ryan said. "I'm still sticking to the exact things we said four years ago."

Democrat Barack Obama, Ryan's opponent in the U.S. Senate race, has said he is not interested in the allegations and that he would prefer to stick to issues. Recent polling shows Obama holding a wide lead over Ryan in a state that has been trending Democratic in recent elections.

Ryan said he has no plans to step down, saying "I think we'll be victorious in November."

He said he talked to a number of Republican leaders over the past few days, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and they all continue to support him.

Outgoing GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald called Ryan "a good and decent man" and pledged to "support him with enthusiasm and confidence."

But it's unclear what Ryan told the Republican leaders in his calls. He only told Edgar his version about mistakenly wandering into an "avant-garde nightclub" in Paris, the source close to the former governor said.

Topinka is furious and believes Ryan lied to her in an earlier discussion, a source close to the state treasurer said:

"She asked point blank during the conversation whether there was anything embarrassing in there, and he said no."


Declaration of Jeri Ryan, dated June 9, 2000.
I made it clear to [Jack Ryan] that our marriage was over for me in the spring of 1998. On three trips, one to New Orleans, one to New York and one to Paris, [he] insisted that I go to sex clubs with him. These were surprise trips that [he] arranged. They were long weekends, supposed "romantic" getaways.
The clubs in New York and Paris were explicit sex clubs. [He] had done research.

[Jack Ryan] took me to two clubs in New York during the day. One club I refused to go in. It had mattresses in cubicles. The other club he insisted I go to. . . . It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.
[He] wanted me to have sex with him there, with another couple watching. I refused.
[He] asked me to perform a sexual activity upon him, and he specifically asked other people to watch. I was very upset.

We left the club and [he] apologized, said that I was right and he would never insist that I go to a club again. He promised it was out of his system.
Then during a trip to Paris, he took me to a sex club in Paris, without telling me where we were going. I told him I thought it was out of his system. I told him he had promised me we would never go. People were having sex everywhere. I cried, I was physically ill.

[He] became very upset with me, and said it was not a "turn on" for me to cry.
I could not get over the incident, and my loss of any attraction to him as a result.

Response from Jack Ryan.
I should not have to respond to the ridiculous accusations Jeri Lynn makes. . .. I was faithful and loyal to my wife throughout our marriage. I did arrange romantic getaways for us, but that did not include the type of activities she describes. We did go to one avant garde nightclub in Paris which was more than either one of us felt comfortable with. We left and vowed never to return. . .. Apparently, Jeri Lynn did not consider how Alex [their son] will feel about his parents or himself when he learns of this type of smut.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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