In her first public comments since her husband's arrest in December in a massive Ponzi scheme, Ruth Madoff seemed to seek solidarity with victims.
"Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused," said the statement, released Monday after Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. "The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years."
"I am breaking my silence now, because my reluctance to speak has been interpreted as indifference or lack of sympathy for the victims of my husband Bernie's crime, which is exactly the opposite of the truth," she added.
But if she wanted to elicit sympathy, she may have fallen short, some image consultants said Monday.
"It doesn't have the emotion," said Judith Glaser, author and chief executive of Benchmark Communications, a Manhattan executive-coaching firm. "It sounds too thought out. It sounds as if it was written over and over again to make sure it was the appropriate policy."
Another consultant questioned the timing. "Why was it released [Monday]?" asked Ronn Torossian, chief executive of 5W Public Relations, a Manhattan firm whose work includes image consulting. "All these months she didn't think to release a statement."
Ruth Madoff has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and she has agreed to surrender homes and jewelry as part of a federal court order that her husband forfeit $170 billion in assets. And she has been shunned in the community, according to published reports.
In the statement, released by her attorney, Peter Chavkin, she said her husband "stunned us all with his confession and is responsible for this terrible situation in which so many now find themselves." She added: "Lives have been upended and futures have been taken away."
Glaser said that Ruth Madoff can rebuild her tattered image, and should start by working with a psychiatrist.
"If you believe her [story], then she is going to need a psychiatrist to work through this because it means that for the last 10 to 15 years, she's been living through the delusion of who her husband was," Glaser said.
Ruth Madoff ended her statement by saying she is "devastated for the many whom my husband has destroyed" and that they should know "not a day goes by when I don't ache over the stories that I have heard and read."