Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Ben Zobrist is accusing pastor Byron Yawn of having an extramarital affair with his wife Julianna and of defrauding his charity, according to a lawsuit filed in Tennessee back in May, per PEOPLE. The lawsuit states that Yawn "usurped the ministerial-counselor role, violated and betrayed the confidence entrusted to him by [Zobrist], breached his fiduciary duty owed to [Zobrist] and deceitfully used his access as counselor to engage in an inappropriate sexual relationship with [Zobrist]'s wife," according to multiple outlets who obtained the lawsuit.
Zobrist, who led the Cubs to a World Series title in 2016 and was named World Series MVP, is seeking $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages. Yawn's attorney, Christopher Bellamy, sent a statement to the Chicago Tribune but could not comment too much on the case.
"At the end of the day, a woman has the right to choose who she wants to be with," Bellamy said in the statement. "We're in the middle of litigation, so I can't really comment further at this point, but that's what it boils down to. My client deserves his day in court and for the truth to be heard, and so we're going to do that through the court process."
Bellamy also said that Yawn left Community Bible Church, which is based in Nashville. He was a pastor there for 20 years, and the Zorbrists attended the church since 2005. Yawn currently owns Forrest Crain & Co., a Nashville-area business-consulting firm.
"We are in the middle of litigation, so I cannot comment further at this point, but that is what this case boils down to. The facts are going to come out in the course of the lawsuit and the court proceedings," Bellamy told NBC News. The lawsuit states that Ben and Julianna started pre-marital counseling with Yawn in 2005. Ben also had counseling with Yawn in 2007, 2016 and 2017. In September 2018, Ben alleges Yawn began secretly pursuing an intimate relationship with [Julianna]."
Ben Zobrist, 40, spent 13 seasons in MLB. He spent the majority of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays (2006-2014) and also spent time with the Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals before joining the Cubs in 2016. In his career, Zobrist won two World Series and was selected to play in the All-Star game three times.