Former MLB player and devout Christian Ben Zobrist has dropped his lawsuit against his former pastor Byron Yawn amid allegations of an affair between the former Tennessee pastor and marital counselor and Zobrist's estranged wife, Julianna.
Zobrist, who played in the MLB from 2006 to 2019, sued the former minister for $6 million in damages, claiming he defrauded his charitable foundation and had an affair with his wife of 14 years. He accused his wife of “inappropriate marital conduct.
However, according to new court documents obtained by The Chicago Tribune, the complaint was withdrawn.
The notice was filed on Thursday in Nashville Circuit Court by attorney Larry Crain and stated that Zobrist voluntarily withdrew the claim. The notice is “without prejudice” and makes way for the athlete to refile the lawsuit within a year if he so chooses.
Yawn’s attorney, Christopher Bellamy, told the daily newspaper that Zobrist’s withdrawal is “a step in the right direction.”
“I’m suspicious for their reasons, but I’m optimistic that he’ll continue to do the right things,” Bellamy added.
Zobrist’s reasons for withdrawing the lawsuit are not known.
The once-celebrated Christian couple separately filed for divorce in 2019. Ben Zobrist filed the lawsuit against Yawn on May 6. In the complaint, Zobrist claimed that Yawn fraudulently collected a $3,500-per-month salary after being dismissed as head of Zobrist's charity foundation Patriot Forward.
Zobrist had sought $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages through a jury trial.
While his marriage was falling apart, Zobrist took a leave of absence from baseball and later retired after the 2019 season. During that time, he sought marital counseling from Yawn in an attempt to restore the marriage.
Julianna Zobrist is suing her husband, alleging that he failed to protect the family assets by taking time off from his job as a player for the Chicago Cubs to try to fix the marriage.
Court documents also revealed that Julianna Zobrist, who recently took to social media to say she would not disclose things publicly, is seeking to split the marital assets evenly along with an additional $4 million for the “amount of money” her husband “failed to preserve by abruptly and intentionally failing to satisfy his baseball contract.”
Zobrist’s attorney, Helen S. Rogers, called Julianna Zobrist’s request for $4 million that her husband forfeited in an attempt to save the marriage “utterly absurd.” She was quoted as telling Judge Michael W. Binkley that she believes the singer is trying to shift blame from the extramarital affair.
“Rather than accepting blame for having torn her husband’s heart out by having an affair with their pastor, she expected him to be able to totally focus in an elite athletic job that required (100%) of his physical and mental energy,” Rogers wrote in a court filing, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“It is Mrs. Zobrist, by having the extramarital affair and confessing same to her husband, and not disclosing the true extent of her affair, that caused him such extreme mental distress and difficulty that resulted in an inability to finish his long and very successful career in the way that he had hoped for and planned for.”
Julianna Zobrist has admitted inappropriate marital conduct in the civil suit but added that her soon-to-be ex-husband is also guilty of inappropriate marital conduct.
The former professional athlete has denied claims of marital misconduct.
The Zobrist divorce trial began last week in Franklin, Tennessee.
The Zobrists got married in 2005 and first met when Julianna Zobrist was 16 through her sister's husband, who was Ben Zobrist's teammate at Olivet Nazarene University. The couple didn't start dating until she was in college at Belmont University.