The one-time editor of the New York Observer, Kenneth Kurson, is facing felony charges in New York tied to long-standing allegations that he digitally stalked and harassed his wife as his marriage was falling to pieces. Kurson had previously been pardoned by President Trump, with whom the accused has close ties.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced Wednesday that Kurson had been charged with felony counts of eavesdropping and computer trespass for installing “spyware” on his wife’s computer that recorded her keystrokes — allowing him to gain illegal access to her Facebook and Gmail accounts.
Private messages allegedly accessed by Kurson unlawfully were then shared with others without his wife’s consent, the Manhattan D.A. said, adding that IP traffic logs had been used to trace the illegal access to Kurson’s Observer office.
The Observer was owned by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, for a portion of the time the alleged crimes were committed. A close friend of the accused, Kushner discontinued the Observer’s print edition after his father-in-law won the presidency, before transferring ownership to a family trust.
Charges against Kurson were first brought in October of last year by the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. President Trump pardoned Kurson shortly before leaving office.
A White House statement at the time cited a request by Kurson’s ex-wife, a doctor at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, who while not dismissing the allegations, said she had not wished for his arrest.
The FBI is said to have learned about the harassment allegations, which took place between 2015 and 2016, while conducting a background check on Kurson, who for a time was being vetted for a post in the Trump administration.
Federal prosecutors said that Kurson, also a former political consultant for Rudy Giuliani, had also stalked and harassed two other individuals, according to FBI interviews conducted at his wife’s hospital.
“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” District Attorney Vance said in a statement.
“As alleged in the complaint, Mr. Kurson launched a campaign of cybercrime, manipulation, and abuse from his perch at the New York Observer, and now the people of New York will hold him accountable,” Vance continued. “We encourage all survivors and witnesses of this type of cybercrime and intimate partner abuse to report these crimes to our Office.”