John Gibson, a 56-year-old pastor from New Orleans, committed suicide after a data breach identified him as an account holder on infidelity site Ashley Madison, his widow says.
Christi Gibson said in an interview with CNN that aired Tuesday that her husband mentioned the hacked hook-up site in his suicide note last month.
“He talked about depression. He talked about having his name on there, and he said he was just very, very sorry,” she told CNN. “What we know about him is that he poured his life into other people, and he offered grace and mercy and forgiveness to everyone else, but somehow he couldn’t extend that to himself.”
Gibson, a teacher at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, presumed he would lose his job after being revealed as an Ashley Madison customer, Mrs. Gibson said. She found his body on Aug. 24, six days after hackers released the details of millions of the site’s users.
“It wasn’t so bad that we wouldn’t have forgiven it, and so many people have said that to us, but for John, it carried such a shame,” she told CNN.
The pastor had previously struggled with addiction, his widow said.
Chuck Kelley, the president of the seminary, spoke of his colleague during a service at the school on Tuesday this week.
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“On the first day of classes, we had the unexpected death of a much loved professor, colleague and friend, Dr. John Gibson,” Mr. Kelley said. “We learned that he made some very sad and unfortunate choices in his life, and his son shared in his memorial service his death appeared to come at his own hand.”
Hackers calling themselves the Impact Team said in July that they had obtained user data for millions of Ashley Madison customers and would release it online unless the site’s parent company, Toronto’s Avid Life Media, shut the service down within 30 days.
When the hackers’ demands weren’t meant, cybercriminals began circulating a trove of compromised data that included financial transaction logs and user data pertaining to roughly 37.5 million subscribers of a site that advertised “Life is short, have an affair.”
At a press conference in Toronto last month, authorities called the data breach one of the largest ever and said they would be following-up on two unconfirmed reports concerning suicides committed by members of the site.
Avid Life Media did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment ahead of the interview’s airing this week. Toronto Police Services are investigating the breach, and Avid Life Media has offered to pay $500,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hacker or hackers responsible.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at email@example.com.
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