Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal (2024) s01e02 Episode Script

We got hacked!

So my April Fool's Day prank plan is
to put some jelly
behind the refrigerator handle.
Then she's gonna come over here
to the sink, turn it on
and [chuckles]
And get sprayed in the face.
[kids shouting]
[Nia] Ew, Samuel! Oh my gosh!
- [Sam] What?
- I hate jelly on my hands!
[gasps] Samuel Paul Rader!
[synth music plays]
[both chuckling]
April Fool's!
Oh my gosh!
After the Frozen video went viral,
a lot of people were like,
"You have a cute family.
You should blog, you should vlog."
We're not really shy,
we're both personable people.
We're like, "We could do this,
this would be a lot of fun."
Well, hey! [laughs]
[Nia] And we just started.
We're on our way to the FC Dallas game.
[straining] Yes!
This doesn't look very good.
Sam knew the ya know, the YouTube scene,
I guess.
He kinda knew how to title things
and, like, how to create a legit video,
and our channel started to, like, thrive.
[dance music plays]
It's that time of the week again,
Symphony and I are going exploring.
The response was really good.
We were putting out videos day after day.
Good morning, guys!
Good morning!
How's everybody doing?
Our following just started amassing.
We got more and more subscribers.
It was insane.
Nice to meet you.
You guys are the two things
we watch as a family.
For us, vlogging was just
showing other families
what it looked like to live for the Lord.
[Nia] Even people
who have not been introduced to God,
they're being introduced to God
through the love we're demonstrating.
I really like to be outside with the kids
for at least Ahhh!
The most exciting thing for me
was that now Sam
is present with the camera.
I was no longer going
to the grocery store alone.
Cooking breakfast became,
like, a family affair.
Everything was just like,
"Life is awesome now."
Ashley Madison was behind me.
But I had no idea what was coming.
[sound distorts]
[theme music plays]
[foreboding music plays]
[Cathy] It was just a regular day
going into work.
I was starting at nine.
When we walked into the office,
everyone was just like standing around,
and we were told
not to touch our computers.
Then we,
in our customer-service morning meeting,
found out that there was a hack.
We had an overnight customer-service rep,
and the message popped up on her screen.
"We are the Impact Team."
"We have taken over all systems
in your entire office
and production domains."
"Ashley Madison must shut down
immediately, permanently."
We got hacked.
I mean, it was just crazy.
It was blackmail.
"If you don't shut down your business,
we're going
to make public
everybody in your databases,
all of their addresses,
all of their credit-card information,
and all of their sexual fantasies."
[images click by]
If that information got out,
this would ruin a lot of people's lives.
[Evan] I went in to talk to Noel
and the top executives.
There was a lot of anger in that room,
Noel was pissed.
If it hit the press,
it would've been devastating.
Up until that point,
Noel's focus was taking the company public
on the stock exchange.
For an investor,
if you believe online dating
is here to stay,
then Ashley Madison
becomes a very safe bet.
We were excited.
The IPO was gonna mean
we would make a shitload of money,
and he didn't want anything to stop that,
so we would never shut down.
We were very secretive
about what happened.
No press and certainly no police.
[dramatic orchestral music plays]
We had to figure out who hacked us
before they released the database.
Noel was not fearful.
He was like, "We have really bright guys,
we're gonna bring in
some other bright guys."
He got on the phone
with these specialists from Sweden.
[phone line ringing]
[funky dance music plays]
[line picks up]
[man] I get a call from Canada,
and they informed me
that Ashley Madison has been compromised.
Most of my clients
are like government agencies.
It's, uh, national security-related.
Offensive security.
So more more attack
than defense, basically.
Ashley Madison wanted me to fly over,
and I decided to call my friend André.
The first time I heard about Joel
was when I was working
for the, uh, Swedish Security Services.
They were suspecting Joel
of a computer breach.
He's the best hacker I know in the world.
[chuckles] They keep sliding down.
The thing is, I usually like work,
you know, leaned back. [laughs]
Well, he's [splutters]in the top ten.
Joel called me about the data breach,
and we agreed that I should join him.
Before I went over to Canada,
I did not know anything about the site.
I don't judge, I'm a Swede. [laughs]
We're we're quite liberal.
[Joel] I arrived in Toronto
at Ashley Madison.
It was obviously a bit chaotic.
Everyone was wondering what is going on
and who who was behind it.
[Amit] All I remember
is coming into the office
and seeing a team of individuals
I've never seen before.
I was pretty young and junior,
so, for me, I was completely in the dark.
[André] Then I met
the man in charge, Noel.
He did not know what to do,
so he was a bit lost.
I could not see
that there was an investigation ongoing.
There was no contact with law enforcement.
I took charge. [laughs]
The mandate I got from Noel
was find the data and secure the data.
I think he was the most determined
anybody would be for anything.
I think he felt
Ashley Madison was his baby,
and his baby had a brain tumor,
and it needed to get resolved
or the baby was gonna die.
[solemn music plays]
[André] The mood was very intense.
The company had a daily revenue
of like a quarter of a million.
So that was at stake here.
But also the integrity
of 40 million users of the site.
People using this service, having affairs.
It was a lot of people's private life
that was on the balance here.
[gentle piano music plays]
[woman] In a close-knit community,
you are known.
And there is a lot good about being known,
and there's a lot that's not so good
about being known.
If you've got something to hide
it's not so great,
or if you wanna get away with something,
um, it's not so great.
For 30 years I lived in New Orleans,
where my husband was a professor
at New Orleans Seminary,
and I worked on staff at a church.
[projector clicks]
I met John when I was 23.
I was visiting with some friends,
and they invited John over.
I liked him. He was funny.
He was smart,
and he was super friendly and outgoing.
And so we just begin writing
back and forth.
I would get so excited
about a letter coming.
This was before e-mail,
it was before all of that.
John is an incredible letter writer.
He was very idealistic,
and I felt like we wanted the same things.
By the time I was 24, we married.
I was just full of hope
that I was gonna have this perfect life.
And yes, we would encounter trials.
But I would've never,
in a million years, have imagined
that Ashley Madison would've played
a part in our marriage.
[André] At the office there was a space
that they called the Clinton Room,
and that was a conference room
in back of the office
that we commandeered
and where we set up our headquarters.
[anxious violin music plays]
[Cathy] The boardroom was relatively close
to the customer-service area.
There's a lot of commotion,
people going in and out,
pacing of higher-ups going back and forth.
Everything was still expected to get done.
So needless to say
it was stressful and quite distracting
tryin' to juggle this unknown
that was going on
with everything else we had to do.
[André] Every investigation
is a challenge,
and the challenge is finding the answer.
So it's like a treasure hunt.
There were things working against us.
When we arrived to Ashley Madison,
it seemed to me they were doing things
like erasing hard drives.
They were probably
trying to secure the systems
so they could lock out the hacker.
Like, if something is suspicious,
okay, then wipe it.
Wipe the laptop, wipe the
And I'm like, "No!"
This is exactly what
we need to be looking at.
[André] But at least no data
had been leaked yet.
The first thing to look at
was the hackers' initial message.
Of course it's important,
because that's a clue.
[Joel] They had called themselves
the Impact Team.
They were not after any money
or recognition.
I think it's a very
[pleasant guitar music plays]
ideologically, um,
motivated attack.
My first feeling was maybe
some religious zealot.
There was watercooler conversation
that it might've been
a disgruntled customer.
Somebody who found out
that their spouse was using the website.
But it was clear that
with a service such as this,
you piss off a lot of people.
[mysterious music plays]
[André] To find the traces,
the fingerprints,
of whoever has done this,
you always go to the log files
because that's the record
of what has happened in in the past
for that computer network.
We can see the time and what account
has been used to log into the system.
I spent most of my time
analyzing these logs.
And then I had found something
that was quite interesting.
So in the log file,
I could see the hackers had connected
using software
as if they were an employee,
with a very specific version.
And that particular version
had only been used
by a previous contractor.
And that contractor
didn't work for Ashley Madison
at the time when they connected.
We could already link them
to unauthorized activity.
To me, it was quite clear
that this had significance.
[menacing music plays]
But then, suddenly,
things got really bad for Ashley Madison.
New this morning,
millions of cheating husbands and wives
should be on edge right now.
The Impact Team released
the public statement on the Internet.
[Evan] The hack had been our secret,
and now everybody had found out.
Their names
and other sensitive information
could soon be exposed.
Hackers have attacked
the dating website Ashley Madison.
It got picked up by media,
and it was a complete frenzy.
Thirty-seven million users.
Thirty-seven million users.
Thirty-seven million.
Thirty-seven million people right now
biting their fingernails.
If this is revealed
I remember, uh, getting assigned
to cover that story.
Just a sense of,
is there a bomb that's about to go off?
They call themselves Impact Team.
"Shutting down AM will cost you,
non-compliance will cost you more."
If you're a hacker,
sometimes you steal data,
you sell it,
you do everything in the shadows.
These guys, they had a demand,
they wanted it to be known,
and not just to the company,
but to basically everybody else
on the Internet.
This is not a site to share recipes,
it's to share sexual fantasies and photos.
Okay, th this is this is
this is fucking bad.
- I'm waiting for the fun to begin on this.
- Yeah.
- [man] Could be horrible.
- Whose name will be on it?
It was all over the place.
Late night making jokes.
Isn't that like everyone? Isn't that like
[audience laughing]
I mean, really.
Walmart doesn't have 37 million customers.
[Evan] Noel's like,
"I can't believe this has happened."
The IPO is gonna be blown up.
Now, the threat was to comply
within a certain time window.
They gave us 30 days to shut down
or they would release, uh, the data.
Ultimately, now Ashley Madison
has a decision to make.
[Evan] Now the clock was ticking, 30 days,
because then they were gonna release
the database,
and nobody had any doubt
that they had the database,
and they would release it.
Nobody had any doubt of that.
[phones ringing]
[Cathy] That's when
the phone calls started.
Hundreds a day.
Everyone wanted to know
what information was out there.
Do they really have my address?
Do they have access to my profile pics?
I had sympathy for them, of course.
We promised discretion and privacy,
and that didn't happen.
So it was heartbreaking
to see customers going through that.
[whimsical music plays]
[Sam] I heard about the hack.
The title appeared on Yahoo! News.
I didn't wanna consider it.
It would have just completely decimated
my reputation, especially as a Christian.
I would've been known
for the opposite of what I stood for.
So I just Nope, not even going there.
Also, Nia and I were trying
for another baby.
Hey, guys.
Trying to hide from Nia.
So I've had this dream
about announcing Nia's pregnancy to her.
I wanted to find out before she does.
[whispers] I have a specimen.
I have a specimen.
I knew it would be there.
It's a pretty clear sample.
Two lines is "pregnant."
[gasps] Oh my gosh!
I felt kinda wrong.
Like I had this information
I'm not allowed to have
before a woman has it.
Good morning.
Can you pick something
out of my top pocket right there?
- Pull it out.
- Oh my gosh.
Pull it out.
Oh gosh, you are so funny.
Oh, you brought a positive one home?
You're so silly.
The joke's on her, right, guys?
What did you do?
Did you get a dropper out of the toilet?
- No, you didn't.
- I did.
No way. Are you serious right now?
[Sam] Her reaction is just priceless.
She, like, freaked out.
I couldn't believe what was happening.
Like, has any guy in history
ever been able to surprise the wife?
It never happens that way.
There's a baby in my tummy.
I uploaded the video and called it
"Husband Shocks Wife with Pregnancy."
This is not fair!
[Sam] That day, the video
has this massive spike in views.
[Nia] It took off right away.
This was like next level
from what we had seen,
and we were getting calls
from local news stations.
She wrote me at work,
"I'm two weeks late."
I was like,
"Oh, wow, I gotta get on this."
So I took some pregnancy tests home
that that morning.
[Nia] This was good for Sam.
He could quit his job
and do this full-time.
We are about to start an interview
with RTL Television.
We were living in the public now,
and suddenly I felt so vulnerable.
- [chuckling]
- Oh, ho!
[Sam] If my name was discovered
in the Ashley Madison dump, I'm done.
That's it for me and my marriage.
[mellow string music plays]
I was sitting in my office
at police headquarters,
and I was reading
the Toronto Sun newspaper.
That's when I heard
about Ashley Madison bein' hacked.
"Life is short, have an affair."
Yes, I mean,
it was obviously, uh, what that was for.
I mean, it was for hookups.
One-night stands, maybe a week stands.
The hackers say they don't just have
the records, each person's profile.
They also have the financial information.
This hack, it's criminal stuff.
So we went to Ashley Madison.
I wanted to get a clearer picture.
I met with the CEO.
We found out they hired
a cybersecurity team from Europe.
I wanted to inform Ashley Madison
the cooperation that was required.
[delicate music plays]
But a lot of stuff was not bein' shared.
I don't think that any company would allow
the police in with an open door.
Their focus was the damage control
more than anything.
[André] It was an enormous pressure
from the board on Noel to get this fixed.
Earlier this spring the company
was talking about going public.
I think this pushes those plans back.
[André] The sense of urgency went up.
[Bryce] They'd already identified
a potential suspect.
[André] So we set up a phone conversation,
and he agreed to meet us.
So we needed to have a plan.
Noel and the board wanted
to have this meeting on the same day
and get the information back
as soon as possible.
[Bryce] I was told later on that matters
were taken in their own hands.
Their focus was making it go away
at whatever resources they could afford.
[André] As soon as we had a place to meet,
Noel sent me
for this meeting with the suspect.
At that point, I really thought
that things were quite promising.
[morose music plays]
[André] And I met him and had a coffee.
He was very nervous, of course,
and he was like,
"I had nothing to do with this."
After a while,
he starts to realize that we have
information that was pointing at him.
So he understood that.
So his demeanor changed.
He admitted readily to them about
the previous breeches into the system.
[André] But at this time,
he's still not saying
that he is involved with the hack.
[Bryce] He was offered monies
to help pay his mortgage off
if information would not be released
to the general public.
They had a lot to lose as a company.
But, uh, at the end of the day,
the money didn't talk.
He denied being involved.
Yeah, it it's frustrating. [chuckles]
[André] After, of course,
we phoned up the office
and told them what the outcome
of that conversation was.
I think Noel was disappointed.
But the contractor
was not taking responsibility.
Of course, it may not have been him.
[Joel] It could have been someone else
using their credentials.
We need to gather more evidence.
[Bryce] When we, the Toronto Police,
got search warrants
and finally go
and interview this gentleman,
by then he was, uh, involved
with a lawyer.
[André] When he did not confess
to the police,
they could not hold him
on these circumstances.
[hopeful music plays]
[Bryce] We were hampered
and hindered with this suspect
because there was a promise of monies
being offered to this individual.
I would have did a different approach.
There's so many options,
but those options were limited to almost
nonexistent with this gentleman.
[André] Then there was not much more
that the police could do,
and that was the end
of that investigation.
So we needed to find other leads
to investigate.
[upbeat music plays]
We were starting
to interview certain employees
that were kinda identified
as maybe potentially havin' knowledge
or bein' involved.
[André] So we were looking at person X
and person Y and so on.
Some were dismissed, uh, right away,
some were more
of an ongoing investigation.
[André] There was a lot of leads
that did not go anywhere.
That was disappointing.
[Evan] The police were not able
to get anything done.
Our team was not
really getting too much done.
Noel and the board members
would never give up millions of dollars
in revenue.
So we had to play chicken.
We knew that if there was any truth
behind the Impact Team,
of their actual threat,
it was now just a waiting period.
We were bracing.
Our legal department, our PR machine,
we were waiting, holding our breath.
Maybe hoping we'd come back the next day,
turn on our computers, and it'd say,
"This is the Impact Team,
we're just kidding." [laughs]
[clock ticking]
[upbeat music crescendoes]
[dramatic choir music plays]
[female reporter] The hackers
who stole private data
from the cheating website Ashley Madison
just followed through on their threat.
The whole dataset
was released to the world.
[female reporter] E-mails, names,
credit-card transactions, and much more
reportedly leaked
onto the so-called dark web.
This was the outcome that nobody wanted.
Another story we're following.
It could spell trouble
for the millions of users
of the cheating website Ashley Madison.
Tonight, thanks to hackers,
a lot of secrets are out.
It's a worldwide victimization.
It's now left many South Africans
in a somewhat uncomfortable position.
[reporting in French]
[reporting in Spanish]
[in English] I had not witnessed any other
personal hacks of this magnitude
ever happen anywhere in the world.
It's the type of data that's not meant
to be shared with the general public.
It was chaos.
It was one step forward,
10,000 steps backwards.
You can't put the genie back in the bottle
once the data is out there.
- [man] The damage is done.
- [woman] Really scary.
[Evan] Noel couldn't believe
what was happening.
It was like they cut off Ashley Madison
at the knees.
Everything we had worked so hard for
was all just blowing up.
[foreboding music plays]
[mouse clicks]
[Bryce] You see and witness what some
of these clients place in their profile.
A lot of people
were talkin' about three-way sex.
Most was two females and a male,
but a lot of these gentlemen wanted
to have sex with a male and a female.
Uh, there's people that wanted
to be urinated on, defecated on.
In 2015, journalists were still grappling
with the idea
of whether they should even download
or use data that was stolen by hackers.
[woman] I'm sure you're going through it.
Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, this is true, I am looking
through it for journalistic purposes.
But the question that matters is,
is there anything in here
that's in the public interest,
that people should know?
Everyone was digging through it,
looking for dirt,
uh, looking for names that they recognize.
[Sam] When I saw that the Impact
had decided to come out with the data,
I got worried.
[intriguing music plays]
Nia and I were at the airport.
We were headed
to a vlogger fair in Seattle.
It's a conference for vloggers,
family vloggers.
And then name after name
started coming out.
State attorney Jeff Ashton
had a membership to the website.
I deeply regret
my affiliation with the site,
which has caused a great amount of stress
and heartache to my wife and children.
That's when I did start freakin' out
a little.
And I'm scrolling Twitter,
makin' sure that my name was safe,
and I was just, like, hoping for the best.
And then as I'm scrolling,
I see this obscure account
made this tweet that says,
"Did I just scoop that Sam Rader
was found in the Ashley Madison dump?"
I was like
I couldn't believe what I was reading.
I feel like it was probably the closest
I've ever come to to passing out
from just seeing something
or reading something.
Everything just disappears around me.
I felt a sudden sense of doom
and that my life was over.
We're about to sit down to eat
at a Chili's inside of the airport,
and so I make the decision
somewhere right there.
I have to tell Nia before she reads this,
before she finds out.
How the heck am I gonna tell her this?
[anxious violin music plays]
[Nia] I think it was like six at night
by this point.
I had not eaten that day,
and I was just, like, on the menu,
like really invested.
What are we getting?
Let's get this quickly.
I look over, Sam's on his phone,
and he looks very serious
and intent about what he's reading.
I just put my hands on the table.
She can tell something's really wrong.
The waiter came, he took our order,
and after that
I remember Sam leaning forward.
His body language was kind of like inward,
like he didn't want anybody to hear
what he was about to say.
And he said,
"I have something to tell you."
"There's a website where married people
can go to have an affair,
and stupidly I had an account for that,
and someone has hacked
into Ashley Madison,
and a list of names
is being leaked, like, right now,
and my name was just exposed on Twitter."
She was just kinda lookin' down,
listening to me,
and just tryin' to take it in.
I was infuriated.
I was really just angry right away
about the not thinking it through
on his part. Like
Just such a selfish decision.
Now here we are
potentially going to just, like,
lose everything, like, maybe we've built.
[delicate piano music plays]
[quietly] Oh, wow.
I kinda started questioning him.
"So did you meet up with anybody?" "No."
- "You talk to anybody?" "Not really."
- [Sam] This was a couple years ago.
I never met with a single person before,
I never cheated on you.
He was a little v um, vague about
He k kept that pretty, like
Minimize. Like, "I did nothing.
Nothing happened, don't worry."
And and I I kinda like latched
onto that.
But I still felt betrayed.
[Sam] We got on the airplane.
Nia's kind of visibly upset.
For some reason,
Nia and I sit separately on the plane.
I can't remember why.
I remember saying,
"I don't wanna sit with you."
[sad piano music plays]
There was just a lot of anger.
Like, "I've been a good wife.
I've been a good mother."
There's just no reason, you know?
He's got everything he needs.
Like, I I I'm there for him
in every way.
What in the world is missing
that he needs to go on this website?
And at the same time,
I didn't want to get off the plane
and arrive at a convention
at odds with him.
I believed that he didn't do anything.
I really, truly believed him,
and my heart wanted to forgive quickly.
So maybe he got curious about it,
and maybe I need to accept that he's got
some curiosities I didn't know about.
But he still didn't,
and it's like that part was still safe.
[Sam] Plane lands, we're in Seattle.
She's like,
"Okay. So, what are we gonna do?"
[Nia] We went to a hotel that night.
I remember sitting on the edge of the bed,
like so proud of myself.
Like, "I really am the best wife."
I really felt like I outdid him
in that moment.
Like, "You signed up
for the stupid, skeezy website,
and here I am working to forgive you,
still going to be intimate with you."
Like, "What woman would be intimate
with you?"
And thinking like,
"I'm winning at this marriage game."
[Christi] I would say most people thought
we had a very happy marriage.
You can work so hard at an image,
that you can make it very believable.
You spend so much time building that,
that you begin to believe
it's the reality.
[intriguing music plays]
I remember hearing
that Ashley Madison had been hacked,
and it crossed my mind
that John's name might be there.
[projector clicks]
He has always been a secret-keeper.
But as secretive as John is,
he wasn't very careful with his secrets.
Early on, when I started seeing things
that made me wonder,
that I wasn't real sure about,
that I had doubts about,
I would just go,
"Wait, no, everything's okay."
"I must be imagining that."
"I must be creating something
that's not really there."
I think I gaslighted myself
as much as anything.
But there were just a few things that
that happened that I couldn't brush aside.
I discovered
some inappropriate relationships.
I would come across a letter
from someone to him.
I think the letters
were one of the hardest things.
That was our thing.
And, um, that hurt.
So when I first heard
about Ashley Madison,
I tried to search for his name.
And it wasn't quite that easy.
There were hoops you had to jump through,
and I didn't wanna jump through them.
I had reached a point where I'd realized,
"Christi, you're really not gonna do
anything about it."
"So why know?"
So I just didn't look anymore,
hoping I was wrong.
[man] The only people that aren't
freaking out are probably lawyers,
'cause you can only imagine
the number of people
that are gonna be taking
their significant other to divorce court.
[manic piano music plays]
Seeing the scale of the data
and how quickly the media picked up on it,
it was a real gut punch.
[reporter] The list of Ashley Madison
users being exposed is growing fast,
from school principals
to state prosecutors.
You had celebrities
being disgraced in in public.
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's husband
Jionni LaValle's e-mail
was reportedly found
linked to the cheating site.
[man] The reality television star
Josh Duggar
admits now he cheated on his wife.
[woman] Real Housewives of New York
star Kristen Taekman's husband Josh
has admitted he did indeed sign up
for what Ashley Madison was selling.
Their clientele ranged from common folk
to the prominent people in society,
and some of them had, uh, status.
WIRED magazine's reporting
that one analysis of the e-mail addresses
shows that some 15,000 were dot-mil,
military e-mail addresses,
or dot-gov addresses.
[man] The son of Vice President Joe Biden
is responding after an unconfirmed report
showed an Ashley Madison account
linked to his e-mail address.
When you start seein' the names
on those lists,
it could cause
some national-security issues.
This could be the biggest hack
of all time.
If not in raw numbers,
at least in terms of impact.
A lot of people were starting to receive,
um, threatening letters, blackmailing.
Saying that if you pay me
X amount of dollars,
I will clear your name
and any sort of trace
that you ever had an account
with Ashley Madison.
[Cathy] We wouldn't advise
to do it or not do it.
But we would definitely suggest
that they change their password.
If a company states a privacy policy,
they'd better stand by
that privacy policy.
They'll be out of business.
Everyone was on edge.
There could be lawsuits,
there could be fines.
[Evan] Noel still seemed to think
that he would come through it
and he would save his company.
[Nia] Hair 101 with April here.
- What do you think?
- [Nia] That looks cool.
The next day we wake up.
So we go into the conference.
It's a convention for vloggers.
Like daily vloggers, weekly, whatever.
You can network, make new friends.
[Sam] We were goin' about our day.
There were some comments
on Twitter about me,
but it's not goin' viral or anything.
[Nia] And then it kinda shifted.
People were just kinda looking at us.
[anxious music plays]
And I see all these articles
start coming out about me.
That I was in the Ashley Madison dump.
Then another and another,
and this is within like ten minutes.
"Oh gosh, it's happening."
Today we're sticking to one subject,
the celebrity fallout
from the Ashley Madison hack.
Christian blogger Sam Rader was found
on the master list as a subscriber.
[Nia] I felt so humiliated.
Just had this sense of,
like, all eyes on us.
I'm obviously the wife,
and so "poor her," you know?
Like, "I'm so sorry for her."
And I was so annoyed,
like, that he put all this on me.
[Sam] And I start getting tons of e-mails
from media outlets.
E-mail after e-mail, phone call.
I just didn't say a word.
I kept completely silent.
It was just unbelievable to me
that I'm in the news for this.
It just didn't make any sense to me
that people cared.
If you do boast a moral high ground,
you get more attention when you're caught
on a website
with the sole purpose of adultery.
The attitude toward people
using the website was
It was an it was an absolute witch hunt.
It certainly brings up echoes of,
in the past adulterers would have to wear
a scarlet letter A around their neck.
I just love this.
I love the idea that people thought,
somehow, that there was a fail-safe method
of going hunting for available women
when you were married,
and somehow karma would not fall on you
like a ton of bricks.
People started, uh, making websites
that you could type a name
or e-mail address into the search bar,
and it would tell you if that person
had an account on the website.
Now what you're seeing,
this happened in the last couple hours,
people are taking this data
and making it easy to find
on the open web.
Different media outlets
took different approaches with this.
I think one that took it the farthest
was an Australian radio station
that invited people to call in,
provide their partner's e-mail address,
and they would look up whether or not
their partner had been on the site,
live on the air.
[boat horn blares]
[dramatic music plays]
[Australian man 1] All right, now, Jo,
you've rung us.
You're suspicious about your partner.
[Australian woman] Yeah. When I heard it,
I thought I should ring up.
His hours have changed.
He's following very close to him now.
Bits of money, where have they gone?
Not really sure.
[Australian man 1] Okay.
We've got his details here.
Um, and his details have revealed
that he's actually on the website, Jo.
[Australian woman] Are you serious?
- [Australian man 1] Yeah, I'm sorry.
- Are you kidding me?
[Australian man] Yeah. No, no, we Yeah.
[Australian woman] These websites
are disgusting.
[Australian man 1] Yeah Oh, Jo's gone.
[Australian man 2] I dunno
if we should've done that.
This practice in terms of, uh, you know,
the witch hunt,
of accusing people,
trying to publicly shame them,
I think went way, way too far.
[foreboding music plays]
[Christi] I woke up that morning
just like any other morning.
The first thing I smell is the coffee.
And I know John's in the kitchen.
And we were standing in the kitchen,
talking over our coffee.
We made plans for dinner.
He reminded me
we had some leftovers in the fridge,
and I said,
"Leftovers sounds good, let's eat that."
Then I went to work.
Later on, I got home
and a friend met me at the house,
and we stood in the driveway
and talked for a little while.
She said, "I hear something.
Is there a phone in there that's ringing?"
And she eventually left
and I went on inside.
So I began to sense
that things weren't right.
John wasn't in the kitchen.
I went to the kitchen, he wasn't there,
which is where he would've been.
So I began looking
around the house for him.
Went upstairs.
Looked in our room.
He wasn't there.
And when I made it to the garage,
That's where I found him.
I realized the sound
that my friend was hearing
was the carbon monoxide alarm going off.
I immediately rushed over to him.
I checked his pulse at his neck,
I checked his pulse in his arms.
I felt his skin,
and he was cold to the touch.
He had been gone for a while.
I just sat there.
I didn't know what to do.
I was in shock. I was in shock.
Not a day I ever imagined.
Not a day
I would ever wanna live through again.
It was horrible.
I went back inside to find my phone
and called my friend,
and even in talking to her,
I couldn't say the words
"John is dead."
I said, "I I I think John is dead."
Because we lived within our community,
my house just immediately filled up.
In the course of all that,
I remember the moment
I remember somebody sitting down
and said, "Christi, we need to tell you
a little bit about what happened today."
[mysterious music plays]
He went to work.
He was told that he had an appointment
with the council that were his bosses.
And he went to the meeting,
and they let him know that his name
had been on the Ashley Madison website.
And the way they described it,
he was in tears,
and, um, did not try to deny it
in any way.
Just said, "Yes,
and I know you need my resignation."
And that he turned it in.
This was a school
for people studying to be in the ministry,
and he was from
three generations of pastors.
He couldn't walk into a classroom
at a seminary
and continue to teach with this known.
To realize that his name
was on Ashley Madison,
that realization, I think,
was very shocking for people.
I'm sure there are people
who are angry about Ashley Madison.
[intriguing music plays]
But I blame the secrecy.
The cancer of shame
that was eating away at him.
As far as the people
who just were poring over that list
and looking for names, and the witch hunt,
there's just a self-righteousness in that
that I think assumes that
you are without sin and without fault.
And when the men
were stoning the woman caught in adultery,
Jesus said, "Let you who is without sin
cast the first stone."
And I don't think any of us is qualified.
[Sam] So Nia and I,
we get back to our Airbnb,
and then we started getting pressure
from all directions to publish a response.
From our viewers, like,
"Sam, tell us what's going on."
"Is this real? True? What's happening?"
Hey, guys, as you may have seen,
my name has been associated
with an Ashley Madison account.
A website made for spouses
who wanna have an affair.
Um, I'm here to clarify some of this
with you guys because I owe it to you.
Um, I did make the account.
I made the account two years ago.
This was brought to my wife's attention.
She has forgiven me for this mistake
that I made in opening the account.
Um, I've sought forgiveness to God,
and he's forgiven me.
So I've been completely cleansed
of this sin.
And also, I need to c I need to be clear
that I've never met with a single person
face-to-face through that website,
and that I never had an affair
with anybody ever
while I've been married with Nia.
I did feel like it was his mess to fix.
I felt like, "You got yourself into this
and put us in this position."
Take responsibility
and do the majority of speaking.
This is what the atonement's all about,
forgiveness and second chances.
And I just wanna add too, guys,
I have forgiven Sam,
and I stand behind him.
Marriage is the real deal,
and it's been sealed,
and it's worth fighting for.
It always will be.
So [exhales] Oh, gosh.
[quiet music plays]
Yeah, so the aim was
to put an end to it and be done,
and continue our lives as it was
before this came out.
And I would say
it was pretty effective in doing that.
[Nia] I'm really clinging
to just this naive
and really hopeful place
of like, this is what is necessary
for us to move forward.
[dramatic music plays]
[Sam] But after uploading it,
the convictions like hit me
like a ton of bricks.
I knew how phony that video was
in the moment.
Like, I I knew what I was doing.
I kept ignoring it.
Nia had forgiven me, for sure,
right in that moment.
But Nia had no idea what
she was actually gonna have to forgive.
[Evan] I just remember it was everywhere.
We were all over the news.
The media was relentless.
[man] Ashley Madison was a bad business.
I didn't like it.
So the fact that they'll probably
go out of business is good.
On one hand, I thought,
"This is completely catastrophic."
"This is it."
I think a lot of people
felt Ashley Madison, ya know, got hacked,
it's like, "Oh, Ted Bundy
got killed in a car accident."
It's like, who gives a shit?
On the flip side,
I also saw signs
that any press could mean good press.
All the world was talking about it.
Ashley Madison.
- Ashley Madison.
- Ashley Madison.
The website saw traffic
at levels that were never seen before.
They say, ya know, negative publicity
is good publicity.
I think that was the idea.
People were curious.
The history of the company
has always been a lot of media attention,
and that led me to think that maybe
that was just the whole purpose of it.
Why? Do we know anything
about why the hackers did this?
It's interesting.
I hadn't heard of this hacker group.
Not many people had.
They call themselves the Impact Team.
There were never any demands for money.
She says she's never heard of this group,
but you can assume they want publicity.
Maybe this was a publicity stunt.
Okay. Is the company responsible for this?
As I said, talk good about me,
talk bad about me,
but please talk about me.
[André] I have a total open mindset.
So everybody is a suspect
until, uh, they are not.
And that's when I started to ask myself,
is Noel capable of doing that?
[cheerful music plays]
Previous EpisodeNext Episode