Through his legal team, professional baseball star Ben Zobrist claimed that his marriage ended as a result of an affair between his wife, Julianna, and Byron Yawn, a marital counselor and pastor who had previously worked with the Zobrists.
According to Larry Brown Sports, Julianna originally acknowledged in her deposition that she "confessed her love for Pastor Yawn" in late 2018 and that she hosted a going away party for Yawn at the Zobrist property, on which she spent almost $30,000. Ben asserts that Julianna paid for the event by using an account that Ben did not normally keep track of in order to conceal her identity.
During the spring of 2019, Julianna confessed to Ben that she had an "emotional affair" with Yawn. When Ben's ex-wife told him of the affair, he made the decision that he "could not play baseball while his marriage and family were in limbo."
They attempted to resolve their marital issues through counseling in 2019, but Ben claims Julianna continued to communicate with Yawn. Because she wanted half of the money he made as a Cubs player, Ben claims Julianna coerced him into returning late in the season to play for them in 2019.
In June 2020, Julianna finally confessed to having a physical relationship with Yawn.
In his memorandum, Ben Zobrist claims that his wife's primary motivation "in concealing her affair with Pastor while participating in marriage counseling was to coax husband back into playing baseball so he could further enrich the marital estate in which wife is expected to receive significant sums of money once the court equitably divides the estate."
"One would be hard pressed to concoct a more deceitful, sinister, and otherwise inappropriate scheme than wife has devised in this divorce matter," the memorandum further reads.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Julianna Zobrist wants an equal share of the marital assets, as well as an extra $4 million for the "amount of money he (Ben) failed to preserve by abruptly and intentionally failing to satisfy his baseball contract."
In a brief to Judge Michael W. Binkley, Ben Zobrist's attorney, Helen S. Rogers of Nashville-based Rogers, Shea and Spanos, labels the claim "utterly absurd" and transfers responsibility to Julianna's adulterous affair with Byron Yawn.
Neither party held back in its papers, laying out their whole allegations as well as their recommendations for wealth division and child custody arrangements for their three young children.
Ben and Julianna Zobrist met because one of Ben's colleagues at Olivet Nazarene University was married to Julianna's elder sister, and they were both the children of ministers. The Zobrists exchanged wedding vows on December 17, 2005, in Iowa City.
When it comes to Christian audiences, the Zobrists were once considered somewhat of a celebrity couple, and they were also popular with secular audiences to a certain degree.
In the next years of their marriage, both sides allege inconsistencies and marital mismanagement, which culminated to the affair of Juliana.
Robin Yawn informed Ben Zobrist about the affair in May 2019. Zobrist requested a leave of absence from the Cubs, which put him on the restricted list on May 8.
Zobrist was reinstated off the restricted list by the Cubs on September 1, 2019. He participated in the last 21 games of the season and hasn't appeared in any other games since.