The wife of Steve Phillips, who lost his job as an ESPN baseball analyst after admitting to an affair with a production assistant 24 years his junior, has “hit the pause button” in divorce proceedings against him, her attorney revealed exclusively to NBC.
“In an effort to better understand the diagnosis, treatment and recovery process for sex addiction, Marni Phillips has withdrawn her divorce petition for now,” the attorney said in a statement. “This does not indicate a reconciliation. It is an attempt to hit the pause button in the legal process to further evaluate the healing process for herself and her four sons.”
Marni Phillips’ attorney, Angelo Maragos, explained that his client needed this break in the painful divorce proceedings for the sake of herself and her children.
“The withdrawing of the divorce allows her to focus her attention on her kids and on trying to get better herself after being dealt a blow like that,” Maragos said in an interview. “It may mean she goes through with a divorce in the future, it may mean she doesn’t, but the pause is more for Marni Phillips than for anybody else.”
‘All my family’s gone through’
Steve Phillips was traveling Thursday and was not immediately available for comment. Steve Lefkowitz, a spokesman for Steve Phillips, said he did not feel comfortable speaking about something as personal as the withdrawal of the divorce petition.
“I can tell you this, though,” Lefkowitz said. “Everything is being done to a) keep the family together and b) get his career back, in that order. ...
“He can’t bear to lose his family.”
Marni Phillips filed for divorce last fall after her family was rocked by scandal and intense media scrutiny.
Brooke Hundley, a 22-year-old production assistant at ESPN, told Marni Phillips last August that she and Phillips had had an affair. Hundley, who also contacted Phillips’ 16-year-old son through the Internet, posing as a classmate, confronted Marni Phillips in front of her home. Terrified, Marni Phillips called the police on the young woman.
When Marni made her 911 call after being confronted her in her own driveway, the story hit the New York tabloids, which had a field day with the salacious saga.
Both Steve Phillips and Hundley lost their jobs at ESPN. Phillips recently started working as a baseball analyst again for New York radio station WFAN and Chicago radio station The Score. Phillips also is in discussions about becoming a baseball analyst for AOL, Lefkowitz said.
In an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer in February, Phillips said he took responsibility for his actions and regretted the mistakes he had made.
“I think of all that my family’s gone through,” Phillips said. “People choose to participate in a relationship, but my wife and kids didn’t. With what my wife and kids have gone through, the trauma that they’ve faced, not only from having a father and a husband that’s a sex addict, but the trauma of the media attention, they’ve been through a lot.”
‘Trying to save my marriage’
Steve and Marni Phillips have spent some time together and some time apart since the scandal broke. They are now living together again in their Connecticut home since his completion of an in-depth treatment program for sex addiction.
In February, Phillips told Lauer that he and his wife were trying to work out their problems, but it was by no means certain that they would not divorce.
“I’m working my tail off to try to save my marriage,” Phillips said. “I don’t know what the ultimate result will be.”
—By Laura T. Coffey and Mike Celizic
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints