All three had affairs. All three lost their jobs. Two of the three ended in criminal charges.
All three had occasion to be in close contact with someone of the opposite sex* in the normal performance of their jobs.
All three were operating in stressful** personal and/or work situations.
The common thread is that all three were involved in affairs and all three are now paying a significant price for their actions.
The first is Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, who resigned as pastor of Florida mega-church, Coral Ridge Presbyterian, after admitting to an affair [The Guardian, June 22, 2015].
It was untenable—Pastor Tchividjian and the church board agreed—for him to be standing in front of the congregation talking about morality, and family, and Christian values when he was doing the opposite.
His stressful situation was that he found out his wife was having an affair. Additional stress undoubtedly came when he and his wife separated. He said they separated because of her affair.
Then, Tchividjian acknowledged that he sought comfort from a friend and that relationship went too far. If the person was already a friend it was natural for them to be together. If the woman was also a parishioner (this is just speculation, but it is not uncommon for a preacher and a parishioner to get intimately involved) then there could have been multiple situations where it was natural to be together. For example, they might interact while planning special Christmas services, a church fund-raising drive, or working on solving problems with the Sunday school.
However it happened, they were alone together and then became too close.
This is a sad situation because nobody will win, especially the Tchividjian’s three children.
We have known for a while about General David Petraeus’ affair with the woman who was writing his biography; his losing his job; and his pleading guilty to giving classified information to someone who was not approved to receive it.
There was every valid reason for General Petraeus and his biographer to be sitting together putting his life story on paper. Then, they probably took the next step of making sure they were alone together with no one else being aware of it. Or, they thought no one else was aware of it. Then, one or the other did something deliberate to move it forward into a sexual relationship.
The stress of General Petraeus’ job is clear. At that time he was head of the CIA, with the ultimate responsibility for the security of millions of people. He was also away from his wife for long periods.
While General Petraeus moved into a high prestige job in the private sector, still he is now a man with a criminal record. He is still married to the same woman, but the effect on her, his children and him will last a long time.
The Prison Guard
The prison guard (actually a prison worker) in the news right now is Joyce Mitchell, a married woman, who is accused of helping two convicted murderers escape from an upstate New York prison (see picture above). She has pleaded not guilty.
She falls right into the group described in “Study shows that prison guards having affairs with inmates is common”. [Reported by Celebrity Cafe.com, June 30, 2015 describing a study done by the US Dept. of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics]. The affairs were reported by the NY Daily News.
It’s not too surprising that a prison worker and an inmate can get too close. The inmate probably craves any kind of relationship with someone who also has a normal life outside the prison. If he can have sex with her, all the better. If she can help him escape, even better. The inmate is certainly in a stressful situation. Prisons are dangerous places for the inmates. And some prisoners face a life behind bars with no hope for any kind of better future.
As for a prison worker, CNN.com [Prison worker in spotlight after New York escape, June 13, 2015] asks, “Beyond the matter of what Mitchell allegedly did for the two men—though her relatives have staunchly defended her—is the question of, if it’s true she did, WHY?” [my emphasis]
Joyce Mitchell told us why: “Mitchell has told investigators that Matt made her feel ‘special’ but she didn’t specify she was in love with him.” She probably was in love with him. Actually infatuated would be more accurate. He might have been saying things to her, a middle-aged plain looking woman, like, “Joyce, has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful?”
And convicts can be very clever, smart people. Matt, the convict and then escapee, may have thought, “Sex with Joyce and telling her she’s sexy is a small price to pay for getting hacksaws and drill bits and lighted eyeglasses from her so I can escape from this dungeon.”
Joyce’s stress may have been that her husband rarely said an appreciative, admiring word to her. Working in a prison with the most dangerous inmates is also obviously stressful.
The end results: One convict was killed by police who caught him after his escape. The second convict was captured and is back in prison. Joyce’s husband and family will live with this for along time. And Joyce herself will go on trial for a felony and a misdemeanor and may be in prison for a while.
All Three in the Same Boat
So we have the minister, the general and the prison worker all in the same boat along with people of many other backgrounds.
The costs to the individuals and their families are large and long lasting.
*This can also happen in gay relationships with people of the same sex.
**Stress is one trigger. The opposite–success or a high–can also be a trigger.