"Put down your cup of coffee or you might spill it," Butler, 62, wrote to his graduate students and fellow professors at Florida State University in Tallahassee. "Elizabeth is leaving me for Ted Turner."
Elizabeth is Butler's wife of 12 years, Elizabeth Dewberry, 44, who is also an author. Butler speculates in the e-mail that Dewberry might be attracted to Turner, 68, because the media mogul resembles the grandfather who molested her as a child.
"She has spoken openly in her work and in her public life of the fact that she was molested by her grandfather from an early age, a molestation that was known and tacitly condoned by her radically Evangelical Christian parents," Butler writes. "And it is very common for a woman to be drawn to men who remind them of their childhood abusers. Ted is such a man, though fortunately, he is far from being abusive."
However, Turner, who has been married three times, most famously to Jane Fonda, will not commit, he writes.
"She will not be Ted's only girlfriend. Ted is permanently and avowedly non-monogamous," Butler writes. "But though he has several girlfriends, it is a very small number, and he does not take them up lightly and he gives them his absolute support when he does."
Butler's books include "Tabloid Dreams" and "Mr. Spaceman."