‘Pro-family’ Republican and mom of four led sexual double-life; had illicit sex in family van, tryst in lawyer’s home while his wife was away at Christian retreat; 2nd affair in 2004
** RFFV EXCLUSIVE ** WARNING: Offensive Content
CORRECTIONS: Jean Allen wrote us to clarify two errors in the original story:
- Debra Olson and David Allen (Jean’s husband) did not have an illicit meeting at the Allen’s vacation house in Michigan — as we initially reported — but rather at a hotel in Michigan.
- In an early sexual encounter between Olson and David Allen in his law office, she did not tell him at that time, “I don’t want to be a girl like this.” Rather, she made that comment to him separately during a later phone call.
Editor’s Note: This is NOT a politically-driven story but one inspired by the shocking account of an aggrieved woman, Jean Allen, who was deeply hurt by the adulterous double-life of a very public Christian and pro-family Republican politician, Debra Olson — and who relives the pain daily with Olson’s campaign for higher office. We at Republicans For Family Values believe:
- that public servants — especially outwardly committed Christians running on a “pro-family” record — should be held to a higher standard of ethics and accountability than other politicians, or the average private citizen;
- that a candidate’s character should be an important factor in the decisions of voters weighing his or her candidacy and qualifications for office;
- that sexual conduct is a deep reflection of a person’s character and the seriousness of their faith and professed morality;
- that the voting public’s right to know about a candidate’s character — including his or her “personal” morality — outweighs the privacy concerns of the candidate. A potential legislator’s character, morality and integrity are a guide to whether they can be trusted to keep their promises and to serve the public with integrity. Overtly Christian and religious candidates, especially, have a higher calling and ethical bar in this regard;
- lastly, that the liberal/secular campaign to disengage (private) morality — and indeed all religion — from public life is fatally flawed and dangerous to the Republic. (Publicly Christian) Bill Clinton’s perverted and treacherous “private” life as president had far-reaching repercussions for America and for public policy — but beyond that it contributed greatly to the corruption of children and the degradation of American morals generally.
We have encountered a few people who say that we should not tell this story. One Republican activist who has worked with Debra Olson wondered if it is proper to do so, from a Christian perspective, since Debra has asked Jean Allen for forgiveness. But when I asked this same person if he would react differently were we reporting about, say, a Democratic man running for office (as a pro-family Christian) who was discovered to have secretly engaged in a year-and-a-half-long sexual affair with another man’s wife — and then a second infidelity years later — he admitted that he wouldn’t have as much of a problem with our exposé. And that symbolizes why Republicans For Family Values (RFFV) is telling this tragic story. — Peter LaBarbera, www.rffv.org
By Peter LaBarbera, RepublicansForFamilyValues.com
NAPERVILLE, Illinois (DuPage County) — Debra Olson, a DuPage County, Illinois, Board Member who is running as a pro-family conservative Republican for Chairman of the Board in the GOP-dominated county, was involved in at least two adulterous affairs — one lasting a year-and-a-half — Republicans For Family Values has learned.
Olson — as a mother of four children— had sex with prominent Wheaton attorney David Allen in the guest bedroom of Allen’s home while his wife Jean was away on a Christian women’s retreat sponsored by their church, Jean Allen revealed in an interview. The aggrieved Mrs. Allen — barraged by campaign signs, ads and printed fliers for Mrs. Olson’s candidacy — is troubled that the truth about Olson has largely remained hidden, and that many Christian conservative voters who appreciate her status as an evangelical, pro-family legislator are completely unaware of the promiscuous double life Olson has led.
Indeed, Olson’s extended adulterous relationship in 1998-99 with Allen has not become widely known nor apparently slowed down her political ambitions. Although rumors about Olson’s sexual affairs with other men exist, even her close associates, church acquaintances and active Republicans in DuPage first learned about the adulteries only through the pursuit of this story.
In contrast, a repentant David Allen paid heavily for acknowledging his serial adulteries in March 2004. After confessing to decades of sexual affairs with multiple women — including Olson (pictured above; a campaign photo of Olson with her family can be found at www.debfordupage.com) — Allen resigned from the Board of Elders at Wheaton Bible Church and from several other well-known (mostly Christian) organization’s boards. He then publicly repented and asked for forgiveness in three separate church services at Wheaton Bible, a large evangelical church where he and his wife Jean are longtime members.
There were no such wide public apologies by Olson. In fact, it was her high local visibility — made higher by Olson’s current campaign for Chairman of the DuPage County Board — that contributed to the desire of David Allen’s traumatized wife Jean to see the truth about Olson’s infidelities revealed. Debra Olson attends Wheaton Evangelical Free Church on Roosevelt Road, a few miles down the road from her home in Wheaton. She runs as a committed Christian on a strong pro-life and pro-family record. Olson’s church membership is listed prominently on the biography of her campaign website, and every year she participates in the Wheaton National Day of Prayer event.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone, but the truth is very important to me, and honesty is very important to me,” said Jean Allen in an interview at her Wheaton condominium. “I see [Olson] putting herself out there specifically before Christian conservatives — as a faithful pro-family advocate — as very dishonest after all she has done.”
Jean Allen said she is not motivated by revenge and has no special animus for Olson, whom she regards as “just another person who was sexually involved with my husband.” However, Allen said what makes Olson different from her husband’s other illicit sexual partners is Olson’s very public position as a County Board member and candidate — and ostensibly as a wholesome, pro-family Christian leader. Olson was elected to the DuPage County Board in 2002 and has been reelected twice since. She is vying with three other Republicans in a primary race to be the GOP candidate for Board Chairman. The Illinois primary election for the six-figure Chairman position is Tuesday, February 2nd, and early voting has already begun.
RFFV first learned of Olson’s infidelities from veteran Republican activists in DuPage County. We repeat that this is not a political story: this writer has not spoken with either of Olson’s three Republican opponents, Dan Cronin, Carol Pankau, or Gary Grasso, nor any staffers from these three opposition GOP campaigns.
RFFV interviewed Jean Allen last week with the full knowledge of her husband, who did not wish to be interviewed for this story. Her account of the details of the Olson affair stems from Jean’s painful discussions with her repentant husband. Mrs. Allen considers lifting the “cloud of secrecy” surrounding the scandal and “getting things out in the open” to be part of her healing. Moreover, she is deeply troubled by the ubiquitous signage, printed ads and fliers for Olson’s campaign that serve as a constant reminder of the painful past of Olson cheating with Jean’s husband.
RFFV has tried to confirm details of the affair with Debra Olson — and inquire as to other aspects of the story — but she has not responded to repeated phone and e-mail requests for an interview. Jean Allen provided this writer with written letters from Debra Olson and her husband Don dealing with the confessed infidelity and its aftermath. In two separate letters, Debra Olson asked for Jean Allen’s forgiveness for her illicit affair with David Allen.
“Jean, I am so very, very sorry for the pain and anguish that I have caused you and your family as well as my own family. Words cannot express my profound remorse and regret. I had hoped that this day would never come because I knew that many people would experience terrible pain at my own hands,” Debra Olson wrote in a letter to Jean in December 2004. “I have anguished that many times … that my choices could bring others so much agony. … I am so sorry that you are a casualty of my stupidity, selfishness and willful disobedience.”
Since David’s confession, the Allen’s have undergone years of counseling after Jean felt called by God to preserve the marriage. David Allen is involved in a ministry at Wheaton Bible Church called Compass for Men — “a support group for men striving for sexual integrity.” In partnership with Jean, he adheres to a strict accountability program whereby, for example, he does not meet alone with other women, even for a business lunch.
It is unclear whether Debra Olson has adopted a similar accountability plan with her husband — but her subsequent adulterous affair with a fellow County Board Member (see below) years after the longer-term illicit relationship with Allen would indicate that if she has one, it is being flouted.
Perhaps there is a cultural double standard for women caught in adultery as compared to men, but RFFV has received no indication that Debra Olson endured “public humiliation” or went through a church-wide public repentance at Wheaton Evangelical-Free Church in any way remotely close to resembling that experienced by her ex-lover, David Allen.
One friend of the Allen’s who requested anonymity agreed that in contrast to Debra Olson, Dave Allen “paid a heavy price” for his full and public repentance.
“Dave did a full turn and walked away from everything in order to focus on living a more godly life,” said the friend. “He was terrified of the evil and wanted to be clean. This is not a tack Deb has taken.”
Jean Allen confirmed that her husband’s Christian faith and maturity have deepened in the process of repentance and overcoming what she refers to as his sexual addiction. The Allen’s three children were told of their father’s serial adultery. In contrast, Don Olson told this writer that his four children were not told of their mother’s sexual cheating. (In fact, Mr. Olson appealed to that fact in his earnest requests that RFFV not run this story. Two of the Olson’s children are now away at out-of-state colleges.)
Olson’s husband confirms second affair, with Brien Sheahan
Despite Debra Olson’s non-response to repeated requests for an interview, this writer has spoken with her husband, Don, who in three separate phone conversations urged RFFV not to run this story. In the first conversation, Don Olson acknowledged his wife’s infidelity with David Allen but said it was a long time ago and he has forgiven her. He supports her run for DuPage County.
Don Olson later confirmed that Debra Olson was involved in another adulterous affair, with (Republican) DuPage County Board Member Brien Sheahan (left) — although Sheahan also is not talking with RFFV. Like Olson, Sheahan has served on the County Board since 2002. Don Olson said he confronted his wife about being involved sexually with Sheahan — thus confirming the account of a source who said Don had broken up his wife’s affair with Sheahan.
Olson’s admission also jibed with suspicions from some other local Republicans and acquaintance of the Olson’s who told RFFV that Debra Olson — as a married woman — had seemed inappropriately close to Sheahan.
According to two Republican female acquaintances of Olson — Debra Olson was directly confronted about being involved with Sheahan. Both sources put the time frame of the alleged Olson-Sheahan affair around 2004-2005 — the same time frame in which Don Olson was dealing with the startling revelations of Debra’s previous long-term affair with Dave Allen several years earlier. (David Allen repented to Jean and resigned from his church elder board and other boards in March 2004.)
An attorney in Elmhurst, Illinois. He is recently married but was single when involved with Olson. Sheahan runs as a conservative and is vying to fill the seat once held by Republican State Rep. Bob Biggins, a pro-life and pro-family stalwart.
RFFV has tried repeatedly to contact Sheahan by phone and e-mail regarding his past relationship with Olson, but as of late Monday night neither he nor his campaign staff had returned our phone calls or e-mails.
A Republican activist familiar with the workings of the DuPage County Board said that the interaction between Olson and Sheahan on the Board gave rise to widespread rumors that they were not just associates or even close friends.
“You could tell by the eye contact between them that something out of the ordinary was going on,” said a source, who described the suspicions about Olson and Sheahan as being held by “more than a few” DuPage County Republicans at the time. According to another source, Debra Olson was directly confronted by a female friend, who pleaded with her to end her compromising involvement with Sheahan.
Jean Allen’s ordeal
In March 2004, Jean Allen’s life was turned completely upside down by her husband’s sudden confession — “downloading thirty years of infidelity in three-hours,” as she put it in the sit-down interview with RFFV. One of the many women on David’s list was Debra Olson, who had worked with Jean and another woman in organizing a fund-raiser — hosted by David and Jean Allen at their Wheaton home — for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Al Salvi, who ran as a strongly pro-life and pro-family conservative.
Jean Allen said she is not sure if her husband was sexually involved with Debra Olson at the time of the Salvi fund-raiser, but is certain that the immoral relationship was cemented around that time. A Republican activist who attended the Salvi fund-raiser at the Allen’s home said Debra Olson’s behavior there was strange: “It was the weirdest thing. She acted like she owned the house, like she was the spouse.”
Jean Allen would later learn that her husband and Olson had a sexual tryst in the guest bedroom of the same Allen home on Washington Street near Wheaton College — in 1999, while Jean was away at a Christian women’s retreat sponsored by their church, Wheaton Bible. (The Allen’s children were away from home at the time, with two in college.)
Jean recalled her husband’s initial confession to her as “horrendous. That night, when he confessed half way through, I said to Dave, ‘Stop! I feel like this is a bad dream and I’m gonna wake up and it’s not true.’ And he said, ‘Jean, it’s true.'”
Other details from the adulterous relationship with Olson are equally troubling and tawdry: David and his lover Debra (who was “hardly his first,” according to Jean) once had sex in the Olson’s family van — and once in the Olson’s house, according to Jean, relaying the detailed confessions of her husband. Jean said that David and Debra Olson got together weekly at hotels and other locations: “It was pretty much a regular thing.” After his confession, David revealed the hotels where his liaisons with various partners, including Olson, occurred. She and he were also tested for sexually-transmitted diseases (none were discovered).
“Dave was really, really good at covering his whole life as a ‘Christian’ — all as a cover for reality,” Jean told RFFV. “He had a double life — the ‘Christian’ life was his cover — that’s how I look at it.”
She suspects that Debra Olson’s situation is similar, and said that out of concern for its effect on her “public life,” in the weeks following David’s 2004 confession he still “wanted to protect Debbie” by not revealing details of their adulterous relationship.
Jean Allen describes her husband as a former “sexual predator” (and sex addict) who “never pushed himself on a woman” but rather used his considerable skills as a highly successful attorney to “set things up” so that the woman with whom he wanted to be involved would take the sexual initiative.
In Olson’s first encounter with Allen, she performed oral sex on him when they were alone together in his law office conference room on a Saturday, Jean recounted. Later, in a phone call, Olson reportedly told the married man: “I don’t want to be a girl like this.”
As part of his confession, David revealed the hotels and other spots where he and Olson (and his other female paramours) would rendezvous. He also revealed that he and Olson took a romantic trip together to New York City.
“[David] very much took advantage of business travel to be involved with [Olson and] other women,” Jean Allen said. “That was his M.O. [modus operandi].” Olson and Allen also hooked up in Virginia, where Olson was visiting a relative and David was travelling on business. And the two lovers met at a hotel in Michigan.
Mr. Allen also encouraged Olson to complete her bachelor’s degree at Northern Illinois University and at various times gave her money (not more than $1,000 at a time, according to Jean) to help Olson with expenses.
Jean said that Olson ultimately broke off the adulterous relationship after telling David Allen that it was “hurting my prayer life.”
Jean Allen ends the secrecy
In letters sent to David Allen by the cuckolded Don Olson in 2004 after discovering his wife’s infidelity– letters that Jean Allen showed to RFFV — Mr. Olson at first angrily lashed out at Mr. Allen for stealing his wife.
“Vote Debra Olson, Your “[F—–g]” Family Concerns Candidate — [signed:] Dave (the [c–k]) Allen,” he mocked as part of one long, vulgar letter sent to David Allen in November 2004. (Emphasis his.)
A subsequent, less angry, letter to Allen in March 2005 inadvertently reveals the sentiments underlying Jean Allen’s desire to expose the truth about the scandalous episode.
In telling David Allen how hard it is to forgive him (“you took from me one of the most precious earthly things in life”) — but earnestly pledging to do so — Don Olson writes: “I do know that simply seeing your picture in the … scrapbook in the DR [dining room] just about sent me into an emotional roller-coaster mode that I couldn’t get off.”
Such is the cause — multiplied a hundred-fold — of Jean Allen’s ongoing heartache — or perhaps nightmare is the better word: she not only has to bear the possibility of having a chance encounter with Debra Olson — but is bombarded by colorful, four-feet-by-four-feet reminders of her husband’s former partner-in-adultery every time she drives to the grocery store. Blue-and-yellow “Debra OLSON, Republican for County Board Chairman” yard signs are everywhere in Wheaton and throughout DuPage County. And the candidate’s glitzy campaign fliers — adorned with a photo of the attractive Olson and her family — arrive in the mail.
Last September, Jean Allen cracked open the dark secret of Olson’s past by sending the following e-mail letter to DuPage County Chairman Bob Schillerstrom (whom Olson is currently running to replace) and to Olson herself:
To: [Schillerstrom e-mail address]
CC: [Olson e-mail address]
Sent: 9/24/2009 9:03:46 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: “WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU”
Dear Mr. Schillerstrom,
I received a piece in the mail this past Monday (from the DuPage County
Board) that said on the back (just above your picture) “WE WANT TO HEAR FROM
YOU.” I know that what you had in mind was the survey, but I wanted to
contact you directly to make a request.
Receiving that mailing brought great pain to me and my family … because of
the pictures in it. Some years ago my husband had an affair with Debra
Olson. Receiving her picture in my mail was extremely painful for me (I
don’t know if you can relate to that kind of pain, but perhaps asking your
wife how she would feel if that was her experience might help you to
If there is a way that I could not receive any mail with Ms. Olson’s picture
in it in the future, I would be most appreciative of that kind
Olson responded to Jean Allen’s request with a respectful promise to do all she could to prevent the DuPage Country mailers containing her photo from being delivered to the Allen’s home, but once again Olson’s decidedly anti-family and anti-marriage past was catching up with her — a very inconvenient development for a socially conservative candidate in a tough GOP primary race.
For her part, Jean told RFFV that she sent the letter to Schillerstrom and Olson because it was her sincere intent “to have no pictures of [Debra] in my home. This is disturbing to my peace and serenity.” She notes that while her husband David finally “got caught” and then faced deep public humiliation (including some severe consequences that Jean did not want revealed as part of this article), the same cannot be said of Debra Olson. The latter’s lack of public humiliation, Jean asserts, is demonstrated by Jean’s various conversations over the years with Christian friends who are stunned to hear of her firsthand experience as a spouse victimized by Debra’s adulterous conduct.
“My prayer for her is that she would get into honest recovery like my husband has,” Jean said.
Need to know basis? Spreading “gossip”?
In one of his phone conversations with this writer, Don Olson — when asked if voters in general and Christian and moral-minded DuPage voters in particular have a right to know about his wife’s adulterous conduct — said that Debra had revealed the illicit relationship with Dave Allen to all those who “need to know.” The picture is one of a Debra Olson being open, repentant and transparent. However, a more critical portrait of Olson emerges from other acquaintances who know and work with her — one in which she tightly guards her past infidelit(ies), ostensibly to protect her political career.
When Olson learned that one Republican very active in DuPage County politics (who knew and respected Jean Allen) had discovered Debra’s lengthy adulterous relationship with David Allen, Olson became upset and scolded the GOP activist for “gossiping,” even quoting from the Bible to make her point. The activist told RFFV that she was stunned at Olson’s reaction and chutzpah — and regarded it as a manipulative attempt to squelch the truth.
“This wasn’t gossip. Gossip is about spreading untruths. This was NOT untruth. These were facts!” said the conservative Christian GOP activist.
Another acquaintance of Allen’s who was once active in GOP politics said that Debra Olson excelled at conveying a “don’t hurt me” posture that somehow suggested that she was the victim of unfounded attacks, rumors and “unChristian” gossip, even though Olson herself was engaging in highly inappropriate behavior for a pro-family leader and Christian woman.
Perhaps this helps explain why at least three people approached for this story who know Olson well or work closely with her had no inkling of her seriously compromised past until informed of the evidence through this story. One GOP activist who is a volunteer working with Olson’s current campaign cavalierly described her as “pure as snow” when this writer first mentioned accusations of Debra’s past infidelities. Later, in pursuit of the story, when she was asked again about the adulteries — this time not as mere conjecture but noting the existence of documentable and corroborating evidence to back up the charge — she offered that she would check with Debra and set up a quick meeting “so we can get this all cleared up.”
That was Sunday afternoon and the GOP volunteer with Olson’s campaign never phoned back to set up a meeting or returned calls and e-mails about our query.
Another close associate of Olson’s — also a Republican activist — was surprised to learn details of her lengthy adulterous affair, having previously mentioned the commonly heard assertion that the infidelity charges against Olson were only “rumors.” Evidently, in the world of hard-fought political campaigns, it is easy to dismiss potentially explosive charges based on fact as the mean-spirited dirty tricks of an opponent. That gambit is made easier by the significant number of Republican (and Democratic) politicians whose lives have been scarred — and who have scarred others’ lives — through adultery.
Clearly, as the party of “family values” and “defending marriage,” Republicans should not seek to sweep adultery under the rug as a non-issue, nor highlight only the hypocrisies of Democrats in this area.
But politics and dirty tricks have nothing to do with Jean Allen’s struggle. She just wants the truth to be told, and fears it is being hidden amidst all those blue-and-yellow “Debra Olson – Republican for County Board Chairman” yard signs.