Governor Sex Scandal: Pals of 'Kristen' Speak Out

03/13/2008 AT 12:30 PM EDT



Ashley Alexandra Dupré is "a strong, independent woman" – this, according to two of her friends, hip-hop artists Robert "Mysterious" Cummings and Freddie "Logan" Sagastume, who are making the interview rounds in the wake of her involvement in New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal.

Dupré – now known to the world as "Kristen," the 22-year-old high-priced call-girl who helped bring down Spitzer this week – was "like our sister," the two young men told Meredith Vieira on Thursday's Today show. "She has the biggest heart."

Despite knowing Dupré for the past three years, neither was aware of the other life she was leading, they said. Cummings called the revelations about her escort activities "a shock to me."

For her part, Dupré – born Ashley Youmans and raised in Belmar, N.J. – though declining to provide details of her liaison with Spitzer, told The New York Times in an interview posted Wednesday on the paper's Web site: "This has been a very difficult time."

Of herself, Dupré, said in a quote that has since been transmitted around the world: "I just don't want to be thought of as a monster."

Generally Positive Portrait

While Dupé's mother, Carolyn Capalbo, 46, told The New York Times, "She is a very bright girl who can handle someone like the governor," her stepfather, Michael DiPietro (from whom she reportedly took her adopted name), declined comment to New York's Daily News.

But her brother, Kyle, 26, who answered the door at the family residence in Jackson, N.J. said, "I support her 100 percent."

Former classmates at Wall High School in Wall Township, N.J., also offered a generally positive portrait – though Dupré only attended through her sophomore year.

Chris Minardi, 23, of Wall, recalled drinking with her. "I thought she always had a good personality, and she was a gorgeous, gorgeous girl. She was definitely flirty," he told the News. "We all can't believe it down here that someone from here brought down the governor of New York."

"She never dated anyone in our school," a 22-year-old woman only identifying herself as Stephanie, told the New York Post. "She was never slutty. She would date older guys, but it wasn't like she was running around sleeping with everyone."

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