It's a good time to be a divorce lawyer. This pretty much goes without saying given the state of society right now, but I said it anyway. People continue to shack up, tie the knot and then hack the knot to shreds. No matter who comes out of any given divorce with more assets, who keeps the house and who gets to see the kids however often, the real winners are the law-talking suits.
On the topic of divorce, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact this Ashley Madison hack will have on divorce levels this year. Questions I have include, what percentage of couples with "an email address in the database" will reconcile and how many will split up? What percentage of men that have been caught will play the "deny game" with ruthless vigilance?
For those who are still unfamiliar, Ashley Madison is (was?) a website that allows married users to join and have affairs. It was founded in 2001 in Canada, and at its peak, had membership of over 39 million people in over 50 countries. Personally, I couldn't care less about the cheaters, and have only a small amount of sympathy for their partners (that's the kind of person I am). Not from a moral or religious standpoint however, the cheaters just should have used common sense and simple logic. If one signs up for a cheating site, one's significant other will not be impressed if he/she finds out. If government sites can be hacked, so can Ashley Madison. Therefore, in the event of a hack, one's significant other may find out about infidelity or attempted infidelity. See? Very simple logic.
Some are claiming that affairs are good for struggling marriages, while others have said they only joined for some innocent fantasy. Whatever the motivations and misdeeds, many who were on the site are now in trouble. Here are ten people whose lives have been ruined by this hack. (Forgive the fact that some of these entries are not named, as they chose to remain anonymous for their interviews).
10 Noel Biderman
Noel Biderman was the CEO of Ashley Madison until Friday, August 28th, when he stepped down. A former lawyer from Toronto, Biderman founded the site back in 2001. He has been called the "King of Infidelity" and has insisted that in spite of the website, he is a family man and does not cheat, although there have been numerous allegations that this is false in the wake of the hack.
He's an entrepreneur who set up a site that helped people who were looking to cheat find affairs. He never put a gun up to anyone's head and forced them to fool around, he just set up a website and saw it flourish. The subject matter of said site may not be tasteful in the eyes of many, but that was his life's work, and recently, he stepped down as its CEO. Does this add up to a life ruined? Maybe not, he probably has plenty of money, but he's now stepping away from his last 15 years of work.
9 Anonymous Kentucky College Professor
Speaking with website XOJane, our number nine describes herself as a college professor who also works "high up" in a non-profit organisation. She argued that both of these positions require a great deal of ethical integrity. She has indicated that she never used the site but simply followed a Twitter account that was identifying people in Kentucky who were on the site. The account then accused her of being a member of the site.
She claims that she received negative messages on her Twitter account from anonymous people regarding the "outing" and that her marriage was nearly destroyed, along with her professional life and some friendships.
8 Jionni LaValle
To be honest, I don't think the fact that this gent's Ashley Madison membership was released will affect his life. He's married to "Snooki", and from what we know of her, his life couldn't have been all that pleasant to begin with. She was one of the stars on the Jersey Shore and had quite the reputation herself.
LaValle and Nicole Polizzi (Snooki) are both playing the "deny and pretend everything is cool" game for now, but it will be interesting to see if any more information pops up over the next while.
One woman who is currently fearing for her professional life went by the alias "Ana" when she spoke with CNN Money last week. "Ana" is highly educated and works in finance. She didn't list any further specifics and described her romantic life as "in the middle of a divorce". Her email was one of many released following the hack.
Her line of business involves nearly exclusively small businesses and families. With that in mind: she looks after people's money. Unfortunately, life starts and ends with money these days, so it's an important and very close, deep relationship in many instances. Ana described Ashley Madison as a "playground" and stated that she feared for her professional life, because having been on that site could be seriously detrimental to her career.
6 Josh Duggar
The Duggar family is famous for two things: religion and a ton of kids. Josh Duggar was the first of his parents' nineteen children, and for some time their family was the definition of wholesome, conservative values. Earlier this year, there were serious allegations that during his teenage years he had molested several of his female siblings.
He recently admitted that not only had he been a member of the site, but had cheated numerous times on his wife, and had viewed adult material online over the last several years. It's hard to live under the spotlight, but come on, if you're the face of religious family values, have a better system for cheating.
5 Josh Taekman
Josh Taekman is one of the founders of Vitalize Labs, a supplement company that boasts using all natural ingredients (don't they all?). His trophy wife, Kristen, is a member of the show The Real Housewives of NYC. Taekman originally argued that he was a victim of fraud when his name was among those on the site's database but has since admitted to have used the site.
It is hard to say whether his life is truly ruined, as Kristen has accepted his apology and "forgiven" him, but this pretty much stands as something she can hold over his head indefinitely.
4 Maria - Annonymous
According to a BBC interview, two women came forward about how the Ashley Madison hack changed their lives for the worst. One of the women (anonymously named Maria), explained how she was looking through the data because her email had been compromised, and happened to fall on her husband's description which appeared entirely and matched her husband's description "to a T." Following her discovery, she confronted her future husband, and after denying the accusations, he finally came clean and admitted to multiple affairs.
Following the admittance, Maria left her home to move in with a friend for a few weeks, and cancelled the wedding that the two had been planning together.
3 Florida Prosecutor Jeff Ashton
A state prosecutor has admitted to using Ashley Madison. It was Jeff Ashton, if you recognize the name, you clearly follow the news. He was the prosecutor in the trial of Casey Anthony, the woman who was accused of killing her toddler Caylee.
He has admitted to using the site out of curiosity, but also said that no laws were broken and that he never had any affairs with anyone on the site. He described the events of the hack as having produced major "headaches" for his kids and wife and has apologized for his actions. He also said however, that he would not resign from his post, but some have alleged that his reputation will be forever tainted.
2 Anna Duggar
Anna Duggar, has been battling the press in recent months as her husband’s involvement with sexual abuse came to light. Not only does she now have to face the press and the scrutiny of the public, but she has to deal with knowing her husband’s dark secrets. As of recent she has stated that she is sticking by her man but we wonder if that will change, as her family members have told the press that they are disowning Duggar as an in-law.
1 At Least One Unnamed Saudi Homosexual
There are more than one, there may well be tens of thousands, and not just in Saudi Arabia. I read just one testimonial from a man from Saudi Arabia who was gay. He pointed out that while he used the site in the United States, he was not out in his country because he would be persecuted. Persecuted in many parts of the world isn't some laughing, or crude jokes, it's a matter of getting stoned to death. This fear could be a reality for many others in the wake of this hack.