Ben Zobrist Claims His Wife, Christian Singer Julianna Zobrist, Had Affair with Couple’s Pastor

By Julie Roys
Ben Julianna Zobrist
Ben and Julianna Zobrist in Washington, D.C., for the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017. (Source: Instagram)

Former Chicago Cubs standout Ben Zobrist claims his wife, Christian singer Julianna Zobrist, had an affair with their former pastor in a recent lawsuit. Ben also claims that the couple’s former pastor, Byron Yawn, who was senior pastor at Community Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee, defrauded Zobrist’s nonprofit.

The 2016 World Series MVP is seeking $6 million in damages from Yawn, who’s now CEO of Forrest Crain & Co., a Nashville-area consulting firm. According to the lawsuit filed in May in a Tennessee circuit court, Yawn used his position as the couple’s pastor and counselor, to pursue a sexual relationship with Julianna Zobrist.

The suit says that in 2005, Yawn provided pre-marital counseling for the couple. Two years later, Ben Zobrist went to Yawn for counseling concerning his struggles with anxiety and depression. And in 2013, the couple began seeking Yawn’s advice on how to strengthen their marriage relationship. 

The lawsuit alleges that in 2018, while he was providing pastoral counseling to Ben Zobrist, Yawn began “secretly pursuing an intimate relationship” with Julianna Zobrist. This allegedly escalated to Yawn and Mrs. Zobrist meeting for sex, beginning in the spring of 2019 and extending into the spring of 2020.

During this time, Yawn encouraged Julianna to keep the “true nature” of their relationship secret by the mutual use of “burner phones,” the suit claims. Yawn also continued to act as Ben Zobrist’s pastor. And according to the suit, Yawn exploited private information Ben Zobrist shared with him and “deceptively encouraged Mr. Zobrist to ‘give his wife some space.'”

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In a 2019 text shared in the lawsuit, Zobrist tells Yawn that he’s postponing going to spring training because Julianna had spoken with a divorce lawyer and “I care too much about my marriage and family to be away during such a critical time.”

Yawn responds, “That’s a heavy friend. Yawns love you and your family. Whatever you need . . .”

Ben Julianna Zobrist Yawn

In June 2018, Yawn, who has an MDiv and DMin from The Master’s Seminary, began working for Ben Zobrist’s charity, Patriot Forward, as a consultant and curriculum developer. In the fall 2018, Yawn used his role with Patriot Forward “as an excuse” to meet with Julianna Zobrist, the lawsuit claims.

Byron Yawn
Byron Yawn, former senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville, TN. (Source: Harvest House Publishers)

Yawn then became executive director of the charity—a role that continued into 2019, while Yawn was having sex with Mrs. Zobrist, according to the suit. 

In May 2019, Yawn’s wife, Robin Yawn, discovered her husband’s burner phone and told Ben Zobrist the next day that she suspected the two were having an emotional affair, not a physical one, according to the lawsuit. 

As a result, Ben Zobrist, who’s 40, paused his career for four months to address the couple’s marriage issues. The lawsuit states that during that time, Zobrist lost $8 million in income. 

In June 2020, Julianna Zobrist admitted the sexual nature of her relationship with Yawn, the lawsuit says.

In May 2019, Ben Zobrist filed for divorce, according to court records. Julianna Zobrist filed a counter-complaint in March 2020. Both cases are reportedly pending.

Ben and Julianna Zobrist were married in 2005 and have three children together. In a 2016 interview with Christianity Today, Julianna shared that faith was at the center of the couple’s relationship and that the couple maintained a “six-day rule”—an agreement not to spend longer than six days apart.

In addition to the lost income, the suit also states that Zobrist contributed an average of $10,000/month to Yawn’s Community Bible Church. Ben Zobrist also reportedly gave $15,000 to families at Yawn’s request. And he donated between $10,000 and $15,000 to fund a trip for the Yawn family.

The suit additionally claims that Yawn capitalized on Zobrist’s celebrity status, publicly touting himself as “Ben Zobrist’s Pastor” and asking Zobrist to sign autographs for a family member, give Yawn tickets to baseball games, and host “Guys Night Out” for the church.

In March 2019, Zobrist’s charity fired Yawn from his position, which paid him $3,500/month. Yet the lawsuit alleges that Yawn somehow continued to “fraudulently receive salary checks” until May 2019. 

The suit seeks $3 million dollars in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. 

The Roys Report reached out to Byron Yawn for comment, but he did not respond by time of publication.

UPDATE: In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Yawn’s attorney, Christopher Bellamy of Nashville-based Neal and Harwell, responded to the lawsuit: “At the end of the day, a woman has the right to choose who she wants to be with. We’re in the middle of litigation, so I can’t really comment further at this point, but that’s what it boils down to.”

In May, Tennessee passed a law stating that a person “is incapable of consenting to sexual contact with a member of the clergy . . . who was treating the victim for a mental, emotional, or physical condition if the sexual contact occurs during the course of a consultation, examination, ongoing treatment, therapy, or other provision of such professional services.” The new law, however, does not go into effect until July 1, 2021, and would not apply to the events named in the lawsuit.

Ben Zobrist’s Lawsuit against Byron Yawn:

Ben Zobrist Lawsuit Byron Yawn


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52 thoughts on “Ben Zobrist Claims His Wife, Christian Singer Julianna Zobrist, Had Affair with Couple’s Pastor”

  1. Ben “claimed” his wife had an affair? The lawsuit says she admitted it? Am I missing something? How can a Christian singer and pastor carry this on in their positions?

    1. It’s easy Tammy. There are very few actual Christians pastors in our country anymore They mostly are grifters and Bible thumpers and disgusting pieces of human debris. Why do you think the 2020 census revealed the largest growth in religion affiliation is NONE. The moment someone puts Christian in there title I know it’s a good chance it’s a grifter looking for sheep to follow them. Prove me wrong.

      1. Darren Gruett

        Gary, I have to respectfully disagree. I believe that most pastors are the exact opposite of what you describe. Most are godly, over worked, under paid, and very much under appreciated. We never hear about them because they are faithfully leading a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

        I know it does seem like this because of the negativity we often hear reported, but pastors like the ones described in this article represent only a sliver of all the pastors in our country.

        1. Good perspective, Darren. It’s estimated there are 300,000+ churches/ pastors in the US. I believe the median size congregation is about 75 people, which is not going to generate much money in most places.

          1. Thank you Loren. You are absolutely correct. There are many pastors faithfully serving the Lord at significant sacrifice. But you won’t read about them in this manner.

        2. Jeremiah Ames

          I must agree with Gary.
          Also, I don’t think it’s anything new in religion.
          It’s just being exposed to a greater degree due to social media.

          I saw an article a year or so ago that concluded that Christianity is the largest reason people are becoming atheists.

          It’s so sad that people throw out the baby just because the bathwater stinks.

          1. Christopher Weeks

            Christianity is a very general term. I was a Christian for many years before I was a Christian. The Christianity I grew up in completely me turned me away from Christ, until Christ himself called me and now I am part of a Christian church that practices true Christianity. And the Christians in my church are one of the reasons so many people in our town have turned to Christ. So from my observations, Christianity (the real form), is the largest reason people are becoming saints.

      2. Frances Christenson

        And the wifey Christian singer is not a grifter or digusting piece of human debris? The female always gets off scott free in our society. I am sick of it. Seriously we need equal standards in the Western world. Women need to be held accountablity in our Christian circles. The elder women are suppose to mentor the younger women in our churches according to the Bible. I assume that a women in a leadership role will behave according to the scriptures but guess not in our world today. The sisterhoold will cover their back no matter what they do or don’t do. Dysfunctional. I am tired of reading about them. Women are just believing a bunch of lies.

    2. Kenin Stuurman

      Ben missed a couple of red flags. Firstly, she got a tattoo. Thus, declaring her independence. When your wife gets a tattoo, get ready for divorce. She faked being a traditional woman and the thot came out.

      Secondly, she asked for space in her marriage. What she was really asking for was space to fornicate.

      Lastly, Ben should have paternity tests done on all three kids. the youngest was born in the time frame of the affair if I’m not mistaken. DNA tests should be done on the other two kids. It’s very likely that this was not her first affair.

      1. Frances Christenson

        My opinion is that the judge in the divorce should give the kids to the father. He would be a much better parent than she would. I think kids should be with the best parent and many times that is not the wife. Will Christians hold her accountable for being a Christian singer/leader? Will they follow scripture and tell her she no longer qualifies for Christian ministry in music or will we once again give the female the pass we always give them?? The Western churchs” biggest problem is not following the Bible. We have remade church and ministry in our own image not God’s.

  2. Gordon Hackman

    Has anyone else noticed a trend towards generalized claims of “emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse” being cited as the grounds for divorce or separation in which that term is either vaguely defined or in which ordinary human behavior, relational conflict, and friction which is now redefined as “abuse?”

    I have a friend who is going through a situation with a spouse who is claiming “abuse” and refusing any attempts at reconciliation despite good faith efforts on my friend’s part to address their own issues and make things right. It sounds exactly like what happened to Mr. Zobrist.

    Makes me wonder if it’s a symptom of our hyper-therapeutic, “no one should ever make me feel bad” culture or if it’s just a new form of manipulation used by one party in a conflict to justify doing what they want to do anyway. Maybe it’s both.

    1. Crystal L Brooks

      She was having an affair with someone else. This was likely an excuse on her part to get out of the marriage without admitting the affair. To his credit, he fought back against that. Who knows? maybe the pastor told her to say that so that she could pursue divorce. He states his wife had talked to a divorce attorney twice without him knowing about it. He’s trying to work it out and she’s talking divorce. Bear in mind that he is the one who makes a lot of money. Accusing him of abuse would likely give her an upper hand in a divorce settlement. And it was justification for her to get out of the marriage given that he wasn’t cheating on her. At the time, she may have been wanting to get out of the marriage in order to be with the pastor.

    2. You are so right about the claims which are ambiguous at best of “emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse”.
      No surprise Mr. Yawn doesn’t answer inquiries. He’s in a heap o’ trouble!
      Ben Zobrist is my hero. I’m praying for him and his children now daily. I think Ben should have asked for more money. A lot of it is going to go to attorney fees.
      Julie, this article was much better than what I saw on Fox News. Thanks for filling in the missing parts. Good investigation!

    3. Mr Hackman,

      Emotional, spiritual and verbal abuse has by far been acceptable behavior and mislabeled as “normal” in our society for decades.

      If women complained about these abuses, they were hormonal or uncooperative and sometimes considered too excitable, too sensitive and even slightly crazy. If desired, the husband had judicial control over his wife and could institutionalize his wife for a “rest” until she saw the “reality” of her behavior.

      The difference between now and then is that someone cannot put us in an asylum for complaining about emotional, spiritual or verbal abuse. Those abuses hurt just as much and are every bit as damaging as being physically beaten.

      Now, when someone abuses someone else emotionally, spiritually, &/or verbally, it is more likely that abuse will be put into the light and the person or persons doing the abuse will be known for THEIR true reprehensible behavior.

      1. Gordon Hackman


        I’d say that without a clear definition of what comprises spiritual, mental, and emotional abuse it’s impossible to determine when someone has legitimately suffered this kind of abuse as opposed to making vaguely defined claims that justify what they wanted to do anyway.

        I have a friend going through this very thing right now, with the spouse claiming “abuse” as the grounds for an indefinite separation despite my friend’s acknowledging their failures and taking definitive, identifiable steps to work on their issues.

        The fact that women were often mistreated in the past doesn’t give them carte blanche in the present to make generalized accusations that can destroy another person’s life and reputation.

        I used to think that having never being married that I’d really missed out, but the longer I live and the more I see this kind of thing going on, I’m grateful for my singleness.

        1. Mr Hackman,

          Mistreatment is mistreatment now or in the past. Abuse is mistreatment. Mistreatment is abuse. Truth.

          I don’t know any thing about your friends circumstances. This has nothing to do with carte Blanche anything. The court can figure that out.

          Abuse (what you call mistreatment) by husbands in current society still runs rampant. Enlightenment is for those willing to see and understand that this awakened awareness of abuse towards women is God’s doing. Those who refuse to see mistreatment/abuse for what it is are still blind.

          God knows the truth. He wants only truth. Call unto Him. His will be done.

          1. Gordon Hackman

            “Abuse (what you call mistreatment) by husbands in current society still runs rampant.”

            Of course it does. And you think wives don’t mistreat husbands too? I find your outlook overly lopsided.
            And I disagree with your conflation of mistreatment and abuse.

            People, including married people, mistreat each other all the time because being disagreeable, moody, on edge, etc is part of the human condition. We don’t live in a fairy tale world.

            My parents have been married for fifty years and they still mistreat each other sometimes, despite the fact that they love each other. No right thinking person would say they abuse each other, though.

            As I said previously, without a clear definition of what constitutes abuse, claims of emotional, spiritual, or mental abuse can easily be used as a form of manipulation.

            I agree with you that God wants the truth, and I’m convinced that one thing that’s true is that in our overly therapeutic culture, some people are labeling abuse what isn’t actually abuse and that some people are using that mislabeling in self-serving ways.

      2. Frances Christenson

        Vicki, women can complain about what they want. In this case the wife took her behaviors into sin. If she was a grown, emotionally mature woman she would have seperated first instead of opening her legs and betraying her family. She put herself before her family in my opinion. I get what you are saying. I hear you but in THIS case the woman handled her problems incorrectly. She should be held accountable for her part in the mess. There is a mature and Biblical way to handle things and she didn’t do it. Please remember that I am talking about this case only. Not what others have gone through. This lady should not be in Christian ministry either. She has disqualified herself by her own actions in my opinion. We ladies can’t have our cake and eat it too. Sorry. I know others will disagree with me and I am OK with that. God bless you.

    4. Jennifer Eason

      This story illustrates why churches need to designate (somehow) the women who have wisdom and who can be sought out for counsel. The Biblical model is that men counsel other men, and women counsel women. I think a woman who is unhappy in her marriage is uniquely vulnerable to a (seemingly) sympathetic man. Marriage problems are simply opportunities to deepen our faith and dependence on God, to become more fully discipled. The ordinary struggles of living out a marriage should not become snares, especially if the parties involved have sought resolution within the context of the church!

      “The wolf comes only to steal…”

      1. Frances Christenson

        I am in total agreement that women should counsel women because we can call another women’s BS if we see it. And a whole lot of women will NOT counself with other women for that exact reason. Many women know they will get away with more if they counsel with a man. They know they can push them around or manipulate them. Even more so now because males are deathly afraid of a woman calling him names or making his life miserable with accusations publically. Males are walking on eggshells and some women are loving it. I know many women that refuse to attend female support groups for that exact reason and even more they go to mixed support groups to get the sexual attention they crave. If a sister calls them out they will simple convince everyone she is jealous.

        I am sorry. This women was not vulnerable. She went behind everyone’s back with a plan and had an affair with the guy that was counseling both of them. That is low. If she was so vunerable and distraught why didn’t she find a female Christian counsel and consult with her in private? She has betrayed her whole family. She is not a young bride, She is not a women without means. She is not a women who hasn’t travel in some pretty powerful circles. She could have had an affair with any man yet she chose the very person who was seemingly trying to help her husband. Goodness, I wonder if these two had a good laugh over their conspiracy. I think this was a direct stab in the back to her husband. If the husband had an affair with a secular counselor they both consulted with he would be scum and rightly so. So her behavior is different? Was the Pastor really more powerful than she was? To me it looks like she had more power, fame and status than the dirtbag pastor. Who groomed who? I believe she made choices that she needs to face counsequences for. Hey, I agree that the Pastor was a dirtbag. That is no excuse for her to go along with the dirtbag. She is responsible for her behavior. She is not a naive young teen.

        Again, I am only speaking about this case. In this case I think the husband should get the kids in the divorce since she obviously is not a good mother. She put herself before anyone else and unless she gets some insight she will do it again if the payoff is good. She has picked up a new tool.

        1. Jennifer Eason

          I really cannot judge whose motives were more self-centered than whose. Under any circumstances an affair is allll about ME, and Building the Kingdom of Me. It is sad that a pastor cannot be trustworthy in a situation like this; he certainly could’ve referred to another counselor in light of his becoming attracted to the woman. Perhaps the Mayo Clinic model is applicable here: at Mayo, a doctor must defend his diagnosis to a group of other doctors, NOT just to a patient, sitting there quivering in one of those little paper gowns. A pastor should answer to other men, other pastors, for the counseling he’s doing: who he counsels and why and what is the long-term plan?

    5. Mr Hackman,

      It is NEVER okay for a pastor to have an affair and most assuredly not with a woman who is there with her husband for spiritual counseling. There is NO justification for this. NONE. ZERO. ZIP. ZILCH. NADA. NINE. NICHT. NON. (All the no words there are.)
      END of STORY.

      Nope…not even that. Just forget it. NEVER EVER EVER….

      1. Vicki,
        It is NEVER okay for anyone to have an affair. She and Yawns hurt themselves, the witness of the Church, their respective spouses, the Zobrist children (maybe Yawns has children also, if so, them also).
        And then there the financial fraud and all Yawn’s other misdeeds.
        What a horrible mess. Prayers for Ben and kids to bear up and be able to salvage their lives and livelihood. And Yawn’s wife who discovered the affair. Her husband’s misdeeds will impact her future financially as well. And kids’ also if they have kids.

        1. Ms Sund,


          Correction: This article wasn’t about an affair. It was about CLERICAL SEXUAL ABUSE.

          1. Gordon Hackman

            “Correction: This article wasn’t about an affair. It was about CLERICAL SEXUAL ABUSE.”

            It’s about both. What Yawn did is totally evil and he is more accountable because of his position. I tremble to think about his having to answer to God for his actions., Mrs. Zobrist, though, is no innocent victim. She is a grown woman and a Christian who should know right from wrong.

  3. Crystal L Brooks

    Wow. I feel bad for him. He is being counseled by the very man who is sleeping with his wife. I will never understand how two folks in ministry (he a pastor and she a Christian singer) can engage in an affair and keep that a secret. I mean…they are BOTH married. How do they not know that committing adultery is a sin? It’s not like he is not trying to keep his marriage and family together. It looks like he did his best to keep it together until this came out.

  4. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

    This sounds like a real mess. I know the direction of the article suggests that Zobrist is the victim here, while Yawn and Julianna were the perpetrators, but I want to remain neutral until more information comes out.

    The legal case is a big issue. Christians shouldn’t take other Christians to court, but if one or more of these people are unregenerate then what then? Especially if there’s a business involved with lots of money.

    Proverbs 6.32 is important here: “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.”

    1. And she’s going to want custody and child support and alimony based on his income as an athlete and a speaker. He’s in his 40s so that stream of income is out. And many churches and Christian organizations will not allow a divorced person to speak in their settings, so that’s out too.

  5. This is some of the saddest news I’ve heard. I loved watched Zobrist on the Royals when they won the WS – good baseball player and class act. I cannot imagine the pain and trauma this guy went through if what this lawsuit alleges is true. Also, I really wonder how much manipulation Julianna was subject to when her marriage counselor, a pastor, begins pursuing her. What a mess.

  6. Marin Heiskell

    I’m sure the last thing Ben wanted was to go public with something like this; looks like he felt there was no other option. Such a mess. Praying for all involved, especially the children.

  7. Larry Shackley

    Ben Zobrist is a class act. Not only was he a star ball player, winning two World Series rings in a row (with two different teams), but he was a Christian witness to his teammates and to his community. I felt awful when he stopped playing because of his marital situation, but it’s clear that he wanted the best for his family, even at the sacrifice of his career. I hope he and his three kids can move on and enjoy a blessed and happy life.

  8. What a messed up situation. I do not doubt the financial numbers mentioned. I feel sorry for the two families who now must suffer because of others’ transgressions.

  9. I forgot to add. When a person of authority, Pastor and Counselor, abuses that authority and seduces a congregant and a client, that is clergy abuse. If you were a professional, you would lose your license and never be able to practice in that State again. In certain states, clergy abuse is a punishable offense.

    1. David Peterson

      I agree, Vance. So I tried to find out— What, if anything, did the church do? I could only find “According to the Community Bible Church, Byron Yawn is no longer affiliated.”
      Fired? Disciplined? Or did he bail out quietly with a golden parachute?
      Did they investigate for any other possible (and likely) victims?

    2. What this article points out is what I experienced with my first wife who is now married to the man who was providing counseling to us many years ago. He quit his work and was stripped of his license in Illinois. It was a sordid awful mess and a very dark and stressful season in my life and that of my then young children that I never would wish on anyone. I can fully empathize with Ben Zobrist in this regard. May God grant Ben and his children the peace that surpasses all understanding while in the midst of this mess.

  10. Mr Hackman,

    Of course men are abused also. This conversation was started with your reference to women and I continued with that reference.

    Marital disagreements do not need to contain what you call mistreatments. That is not okay, no matter how many years you have been doing it. 1 or 50. If “moody & on edge” causes the other person to hurt the other (verbally,emotionally, or spiritually), then that’s abuse. That person needs to learn how recognize and to be responsible for their ill mood and do what is necessary not to take it out on their spouse. The pain mistreatment/abuse causes is real. Just like a slap. It is not okay in any marriage at any time, not with any excuse. It is harmful. If that type of exchange has happened, in order to heal without bad memories, it must be apologized for, made amends for and allow the other time to heal. Then the hurt person can forgive.

    Couples can and should conclude disagreements without any type of mistreatment or abuse of each other. It is not okay to abuse. It must be addressed and changed even if it’s gone on for 50 years and every single one of us has done it. It’s still not okay. With recognition, knowledge and a desire to change bad behavior, it can be changed.

    Mr Hackman, I use your word mistreatment. I call it abuse. And yes, of course, both genders can be guilty of this, but at this time in history, we still live in a patriarchal society so the percentages are not even.

      1. Mr Hackman,

        There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. Julie’s blog is a great place to learn. Nice meeting you, sir.

          1. Mr Hackman,

            I think we also often tell what we know about through our experiences in life. I have been abused in horrific ways for long extended times. I have had 7 years of therapy and have traveled through to the other side. I recognize when someone is doing abusive behavior now. Praise God.
            An RZ survivor.

        1. Hello Vicki Blue,
          From my perspective, your message gets lost in the delivery.

          “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
          DR. STEPHEN R. COVEY

          Gordon Hackman, I agree with Vicki Blue AND completely understand your posts. I was going to post the definition of mistreatment vs. abuse (because they were not synonyms in my brain either), because I felt like Ms. Blue was not understanding you. I looked up the definitions and discovered they CAN mean the same thing. I learned something.

          1. Gordon Hackman

            Vicki Blue,

            I’m sorry for the evil that was done to you and the damage it caused. I shudder to think about RZ having to answer for it.

            I’m speaking from my experience and observation too. There are people out there who will use claims of victimhood as a cover for their own sin. It sure appears that Mr. Zobrist’s wife is one of them.

            None of that means that we shouldn’t listen to and care for the vast number of genuine victims, but it does mean we need to practice careful discernment in every situation.

      2. Frances Christenson

        Gordon, I am not either and believe it or not many women are rethinking some of this because they have sons and grandsons. Let’s remember that men fought and bled for many of us women while we stayed in the comfort of our own homes. There are many, many things men did for women that aren’t abuse or patriarchal while we ladies were quite smug and comfortable.. Sometimes I think females take things for granted occastionaly and that is not saying SOME men aren’t low lives, but honestly, I think more men are willing to call another guy a dirtbag than a sister will call her siister out for outrageously bad stuff. These are catch all phrases. We are not even coming close to defining anything. Keep in mind that those that have been abused are hypersensitize to perceived injustices sometimes. I can get triggered easily by some things more than others at times.

        I also question clergy abuse in THIS case. From many angles this woman looks like she had a lot of fame, money, power and status herself. I am thinking more than the pastor and that is precisely why she choose him to have the affair with. Why didn’t she get a guy who had more power, money, fame and status than her husband????? Just because this guy was a Pastor we are assuming he had all the cards but did he? Let’s look honestly at things. Just because of genders and professions we assume we know the game but we should dig deeper to reveal the true nature of things. Folks just tend to sterotype things with meaninglyess labels. We all assume that women are sugar and spice and everything nice but sometimes reality is much different. Every single case is not the same as the last case. Women are not always right and men always wrong although our current culture would have us believe that. I find it maddening.

        1. Gordon Hackman

          I agree Frances. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for offering affirmation of what I was trying to say.

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