Could David Petraeus Face Military Prosecution for Affair?

Department of Defense photo by Cherie Cullen/Released(WASHINGTON) -- Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director last week after admitting an extramarital relationship, could possibly face military prosecution for adultery if officials turn up any evidence to counter his apparent claims that the affair began after he left the military.

The affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, both of whom are married, began several months after his retirement from the Army in August 2011 and ended four months ago, retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former Petraeus spokesman, told ABC News.

Broadwell, 40, had extraordinary access to the 60-year-old general during six trips she took to Afghanistan as his official biographer, a plum assignment for a novice writer.

"For him to allow the very first biography to be written about him, to be written by someone who had never written a book before, seemed very odd to me," former Petraeus aide Peter Mansoor told ABC News.

The timeline of the relationship, according to Petraeus, would mean that he was carrying on the affair for the majority of his tenure at the CIA, where he began as director on Sept. 6, 2011.  If he carried on the affair while serving in the Army, however, Petraeus could face charges, according to Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which reprimands conduct "of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."

Whether the military would pursue such action, whatever evidence it accumulates, is unclear.

As the details of the investigation launched by the FBI unraveled this weekend, it became clear that the woman at the heart of the inquiry that led to Petraeus' downfall had been identified as Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who volunteers to help the military.  She is a family friend of Petraeus, who Broadwell apparently felt threatened by.

Kelley and her husband are longtime supporters of the military, and six months ago she was named "Honorary Ambassador to Central Command" for her volunteer work with the military.  Officials say Kelley is not romantically linked to Petraeus, but befriended the general and his wife when he was stationed in Florida.  The Kelleys spent Christmases in group settings with the Petraeuses and visited them in Washington D.C., where Kelley's sister and her son live.

"We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years," Kelley said in a statement Sunday.  "We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."

Earlier this year, around the time that Petraeus and Broadwell were breaking off their affair, Kelly began receiving anonymous emails, which she found so threatening she went to authorities.  The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell's computer, where they found other salacious and explicit emails between Broadwell and Petraeus that made it clear to officials that the two were carrying on an affair.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of "human drama."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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