'Homewreckers' face New York's fury at a very public wedding

It is the world's window on the love lives of Manhattan's social elite, the directory of high-society marriages that seals any Upper East Sider's status as a true member of the establishment. But now the serene grandeur of The New York Times's weekly "Vows" wedding section has been rudely disrupted by a celebration of a relationship that tore two families apart.

The wedding in question was that of Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla, she a television newscaster in New York City, he a powerful marketing executive at the entertainment giant Time Warner.

Their story – "What happens when love comes at the wrong time?" – has unleashed a torrent of online invective that even the holiday weekend has not quelled. Now Mr Partilla is cursing their eagerness to have their marriage celebrated in the society pages, and Ms Riddell's furious ex-husband has lashed out at the Times for allowing the happy couple to "whitewash" the past. It is all terribly unbecoming.

Even the writer of the Vows section piece admitted it was a "messy" one. The couple met and fell in love while still married to other people. Each had children. In fact, the families were neighbours and good friends. But their tale, illustrated with glamorous photos from their marriage ceremony at an exclusive hotel and featuring several of their children, was presented as the very model of the modern divorce. "The part that's hard for people to believe is we didn't have an affair," Ms Riddell told the newspaper. "I did a terrible thing as honourably as I could," Mr Partilla said.

The tale provoked instant criticism in the comments section of the newspaper's website, with reader after reader condemning the couple as selfish – if not actually for leaving their spouses, then at least for advertising the fact to the world. "If the couple had a sense of decency and wished to truly respect the feelings of their ex-spouses, they would have denied themselves the pleasure of having their 15 minutes of fame in The New York Times," said one typical poster.

Others asked when did the Times "hire Perez Hilton" and start to "glorify homewrecking"? And an ordained marriage officiant wrote: "Why publish this, a story that cuckolds not only the institution of marriage but the unceremoniously discarded spouses?"

Within days, the story had become a full-on internet phenomenon, while the Today show on NBC television dedicated a whole section to the couple, complete with a psychologist calling the Vows piece the "confessional" of a couple wracked with guilt, and comparisons to the wife-swap gossip of pop star Shania Twain's love life. Then a bombshell: the angry intervention of Bob Ennis, Ms Riddell's first husband – whose marriage to the TV presenter had itself been featured in the Times 15 years earlier.

"The primary story here is not that interesting," Mr Ennis told Jeff Bercovici, a media blogger on the Forbes.com website. "People lie and cheat and steal all the time. That's a fact of life. But rarely does a national news organisation give them an unverified megaphone to whitewash it.

"You could easily try to brush this off as a kind of self-evidence, a self-serving act by a couple of narcissistic people who for whatever reason have a need to try to persuade people, except for the fact that there are lots of children involved."

For all the invective, though, not everyone has come out against the couple in the swirling debate about modern marriage that Vows has triggered. "This is a situation that happens every single day around the world," said one comment on the Times site. "It's devastating, painful and quite frankly, there's just no easy answer no matter how you look at it. The saving grace to this is that Carol and John did not actually cheat on their spouses or lie to them. They told them the truth. They were adults who acted like adults. I wish them a long and happy marriage."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world