Pastor commits suicide after being outed in Ashley Madison web site hack
NEW YORK — John Gibson, pastor and seminary professor, apparently killed himself after the Ashley Madison web site hack revealed he was a member. Gibson was was married with two children.
Gibson’s wife, Christi, discovered her husband’s body. His daughter, Callie, was teaching in front of 250 college students when she got the call.
It was August 24, six days after hackers exposed the names of millions of people who had signed up for Ashley Madison, the notorious site for those seeking affairs. Gibson’s name was on the list.
“It was a moment that life doesn’t prepare you for,” Christi told CNNMoney. “I had to call my kids. How do you tell your kids that their dad is gone and that he took his own life?”
In his suicide note, Gibson chronicled his demons. He also mentioned Ashley Madison. “He talked about depression,” Christi said. “He talked about having his name on there, and he said he was just very, very sorry. 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.”
The Ashley Madison web site was hacked in July, and hackers released users’ personal information in August. Since then, authorities in Toronto have said they are investigating suicides that could be linked to the data dump. Hackers have also sent extortion emails to people who were on the list.
Gibson said her husband was likely worried he’d lose his job.
“It wasn’t so bad that we wouldn’t have forgiven it,” she said, “and so many people have said that to us, but for John, it carried such a shame.”
Gibson, 56, was known as a great teacher with a “quirky laugh,” but he had struggled with depression and addiction in the past, his family said.
Officials at Ashley Madison did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since his death, Gibon’s family has made a pact to be more transparent with one another about their struggles.
Christi Gibson has a message for the 32 million people exposed and their communities: “These were real people with real families, real pain and real loss,” she says. But “don’t underestimate the power of love. Nothing is worth the loss of a father and a husband and a friend. It just didn’t merit it. It didn’t merit it at all.”