Ken Kurson smiles for the camera.

Jared Kushner’s Friend Ken Kurson Charged With Cyberstalking His Ex-Wife Despite Already Being Pardoned by Trump

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In his final hours in office, Donald Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 others convicted of crimes. Some of those last-minute pardons included friends of Trump and his family, including Ken Kurson, a close friend and former colleague of Jared Kushner who had been accused of cyberstalking three people in a “post-divorce meltdown,” as The Daily Beast dubbed it at the time.

Kurson was arrested in October of 2020 after Trump offered him a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities and an FBI background check uncovered a number of harassment allegations related to his 2015 divorce. Kurson withdrew himself from consideration for the position but his problems didn’t go away. Instead, federal prosecutors charged him with “cyberstalking three people and harassing two others, including a friend whom he blamed for the deterioration of his marriage,” according to the New York Times.

Included in Kurson’s harassment campaign was a friend who he blamed for the deterioration of his marriage. He reportedly flooded her medical practice with negative Yelp reviews, as well as threatening emails and phone calls to her colleagues at Mount Sinai, claiming she was having an affair with her boss. According to the criminal complaint filed against him, he used similar tactics against his ex-wife, who was not named in the complaint but identified later. She ended up losing her job because of his harassment and filed a restraining order against him.

While Trump pardoned Kurson before his case even went to trial (and while Kurson was reportedly in negotiations for a plea deal), Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance issued Kurson with related but new charges. “We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” Vance said Wednesday.

The pardon Kurson received only related to federal cyberstalking charges. The new charges accuse Kurson of violating New York law, and specifically abusing his position as editor of the New York Observer (which Jared Kushner then owned) to spy on his wife.

Kurson is accused of using a program called WebWatcher to monitor his wife’s keystrokes, gaining her email and other passwords, all from his office at the Observer.

The New York Times writes:

The complaint said Mr. Kurson’s wife worked at a summer camp in 2015, where she became friendly with one of her co-workers. They stayed in touch after the summer was over, and the director of the camp later received an email containing copies of private conversations between the two, the complaint said. Based on that information, investigators believe that Mr. Kurson monitored his wife’s conversations with her co-worker.

Mr. Kurson was not a particularly adept user of WebWatcher, and he contacted the program’s customer service representatives several times, both to help him access his wife’s messages and to reassure him that she would not be able to detect the software, the complaint said.

“Like if someone at the Apple store is LOOKING for it, will they be able to find it?” he asked on one occasion in October 2015.

It’s nice to see that Trump’s pardons for his friends are potentially as useless as everything else about him.

(image: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for DuJour)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.