Ben Zobrist claimed that his wife, Julianna, had an affair with their former pastor. That’s according to a copy of a May lawsuit filed on behalf of the former MLB player. The court document also accuses the minister, who also worked at Ben’s non-profit, of defrauding the foundation.
A copy of the lawsuit was recently obtained by the Journal Star.
The claim is against Byron Yawn, who used to be a senior minister at the Community Bible Church in Nashville, where he met the Zobrists. The 2016 World Series MVP is seeking $6 million in damages from Yawn — whom the Zobrists have known for 16 years.
The couple was married in 2005 and received pre- and post-marital counseling from Yawn. Ben and Julianna Zobrist also have three children together.
According to the lawsuit, as early as 2007 and then again in 2016/17, Ben Zobrist entered into counseling with Yawn to discuss his anxiety and depression. The suit goes on to say that in the fall of 2018, while Zobrist was being counseled by his pastor, Yawn began “secretly pursuing an intimate relationship with Mr. Zobrist’s wife.” Yawn and Julianna Zobrist, a Christian-pop singer, maintained a romantic relationship from the spring of 2019 into 2020, communicating via “burner phones.” Those phones were found by Yawn’s wife in May 2019, who told Zobrist that she thought the relationship was emotional, but not sexual. But, in 2020, the ballplayer finally learned of the true nature of the relationship after his ex-wife admitted to it in writing.
In 2019, days after pausing his baseball career to work on his marriage, Ben Zobrist filed for legal separation from his wife. The complaint said Julianna had been “guilty of inappropriate marital conduct which renders further cohabitation impossible.”
Zobrist would miss most of the 2019 baseball season thereafter. He estimates the pause in his career resulted in $8 million in lost income.
While his marriage was falling apart, Zobrist turned to his pastor for life guidance. Yawn gave some, and also got an executive position with Zobrist’s foundation, Patriot Forward. The non-profit helps pro athletes with mental health struggles and gives career advice to those hanging up their cleats.
In 2018, the suit alleges, Yawn “us[ed] his role in Patriot Forward as an excuse to meet with [Zobrist’s] wife.” He did so while meeting with Ben “to develop the charity’s social media presence.”
Yawn, who “often capitalized on the Plaintiff’s celebrity,” was fired in March of 2019.
According to the lawsuit:
In March of 2019, Patriot Forward, the charitable organization founded by the Plaintiff, terminated Mr. Yawn as Executive Director, a position in which Mr. Yawn was paid a salary of $3,500 per month. Despite his termination in March of that year, Mr. Yawn somehow continued to fraudulently receive salary checks until May of 2019 and he cashed these checks with full knowledge that his position had been terminated.
This is a shitty situation for everyone involved, including Cubs fans, who have no redress whatsoever for having to listen to Julianna Zobrist’s “Alive” and cover of “Benny and the Jets” ad nauseam whenever her ex-husband came up to bat.