|By Luis Fabregas, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Then CEO of
Melani, 58, stayed in seclusion for two weeks, nursing the wounds with ice bags and warm compressions. A married father of four and arguably one of
"I was hurt," Melani told the Tribune-Review on Thursday, in his first public comments since
"I did a lot of crying. The personal destruction is something I can't even begin to explain to people. It was devastating," he said.
"I was dropped like a hot potato by everybody in
During a candid, two-hour conversation in a Pine restaurant, an often emotional Melani described how the incident shook his family, how he feels ostracized from the community and
"I was treated like I had a communicable disease, like I was infecting the organization," Melani said, raising his arms in the air. "What hurts the most is that the company dropped me so fast."
The company has said Melani was fired because he repeatedly lied to senior management about his relationship with
"The injuries resulting from Dr. Melani's gross and willful misconduct include injuries to the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand, the company's reputation, risk to business partners and financial harm," according to a
Melani, who was paid
'Performance speaks for itself'
Melani said he is in discussions with other employers -- some in
"Look at the performance of
Melani said he is particularly proud of helping establish
But Melani's reputation was tarnished
When police arrived, Melani made it clear he was in love with Myler. "(Melani) asked me in an emotional voice if I had ever had a relationship that was everything to me," an
The police report said Melani and Myler began having an affair three weeks after she was hired at
When asked about his relationship with his wife, Melani declined to comment. Attorney Robert Del
Prosecutors this week dropped simple assault and defiant trespassing charges against Melani after he completed 16 anger management classes. Melani was contrite and said his hurt was compounded by the ordeal's impact on the lives of so many relatives, friends and colleagues.
"What really bothers me the most is that so many people have suffered through this process," he said. "I feel for them."
Melani choked back tears when he spoke about the impact on his parents, who are 85 and 88 and live in
One of the hardest parts of the ordeal was facing his children. Melani has two grown daughters -- ages 33 and 31 -- from a previous marriage. He and his wife, Tracy, have two other daughters, ages 11 and 2 1/2.
His voice trembled and tears welled in his eyes when he said his oldest daughters called him while he was staying at
"We love you, Dad," he said they told him.
Melani said his personal life never affected his business decisions at
"Everything I did was in the best interest of
Melani said his dismissal has not diminished his affection toward the health insurer, even though officials never allowed him to get his personal belongings from his office on the 31st floor of
"I have Blues in my blood," he said in reference to the
Melani, who orchestrated <org idsrc="xmltag.org" value="NASDAQ-MF:HGAFX">Highmark's ongoing acquisition of
Melani would say only that he knows Dr.
Melani emphasized that he has been fortunate to have the support of family and friends, even though sometimes he feels like some people in public recognize him but are afraid to approach him.
He expressed gratitude to many business and community leaders who have reached out to him, including
Melani had dinner Wednesday night with
"I'm not above being human because I'm
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