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Inside Politics

Ex-wife of GOP Senate candidate alleged sex club forays


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Jeri Lynn Ryan
U.S. Senate
Barack Obama
Paris (France)

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The ex-wife of Jack Ryan, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, alleged in court papers filed in 2000 that he took her to sex clubs and asked her to engage in sexual activity in front of other patrons.

Portions of the documents, which related to a visitation dispute over the couple's son, were released Monday, after a judge in Los Angeles ordered them unsealed.

At a news conference Monday, Ryan reiterated the denial he made in his initial legal response to the charges by TV actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, in which he called the allegations "ridiculous" and "smut" and insisted he was "faithful and loyal to my wife throughout our marriage."

"I am sticking by the exact things I said five years ago," he said. "No one has ever said that I haven't abided by every single law or abided by my marriage vows or abided by commitments I've made to people."

Ryan also said he intends to stay in the Senate race, despite unease among fellow Republicans about the potential political fallout.

"I think we'll be victorious in November," he said.

Jeri Ryan, who starred in the TV shows "Boston Public" and "Star Trek: Voyager," also issued a conciliatory statement, saying that she now considers her ex-husband "a friend" and has "no doubt that he will make an excellent senator."

While not addressing the sex club allegations directly in her statement, she said that "there was never any physical abuse in our marriage -- either to myself or to our son -- 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. I wish him all the best," she said.

Several Chicago media organizations had sued for release of documents relating to the Ryans' divorce, saying the public interest outweighed their concerns about privacy and the possible effect on their now 9-year-old son. Friday, a judge in Los Angeles, where their divorce was litigated, agreed to unseal portions of more than 360 pages of documents, although large parts remained blacked out.

Both Ryans had objected to the release of details in the documents, but they opted not to appeal the ruling.

Jeri Ryan said her then-husband took her on three "surprise trips" in the spring of 1998 to New Orleans, New York and Paris, during which he took her to sex clubs. She said she refused to go in the first and went into the second at his insistence.

"It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling," she said in the court document, adding that her husband "wanted me to have sex with him there, with another couple watching. I refused."

She said on arriving at the third club, in Paris, "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."

In his legal response to her allegations, Jack Ryan said while he did arrange "romantic getaways" for the couple, they "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," he said.

Ryan, 44, a wealthy former investment banker, is locked in a tight race with Democrat Barack Obama for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald -- a potentially key contest in the battle for control of the evenly divided Senate.

Rumors about allegations in Ryans' divorce documents swirled during the GOP primary, but Ryan steadfastly refused to release them.

He said Monday that he and his wife tried to keep the documents sealed out of fear of the possible impact on their son, Alex.

"Jeri Lynn and I long ago put those issues behind us," he said. "It's not helpful for my son ... to reopen those conversations."

Ryan said he believes voters will not hold the allegations against him.

"I think that when voters look into their hearts and minds and say, 'Can we trust this fellow Jack Ryan, or does he try to do the best he can, or is he in this job for the right reasons?' I think they'll see that same sincerity to try do the right thing, though knowing that in the end that I am human and I do fail."


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