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Top 10 sex scandals of 2009

What do Tiger Woods, Silvio Berlusconi and Oprah Winfrey all have in common?

BOSTON — No surprise: The topic of sex continued to attract attention in 2009, and as usual it was for all the wrong reasons.

Here are 10 public figures from around the globe caught in the glare of media and public scrutiny for their alleged — and in some cases admitted — antics.

tiger woods and elin nordegren
Tiger Woods and wife Elin Nordegren watch Game 4 of the NBA finals in Orlando, Fla., in June 2009.
(Hans Deryk/ Reuters)

1. Tiger Woods

So among the questions left unanswered in the whole sorry Tiger Woods saga is, how many? Was there one mistress, two, four, six or more? Among those who've come forward with a claim to having had sexual liaisons with the golf superstar are a cocktail waitress, two porn stars, a few party girls and a Floridian in her 40s. Go figure which among them are telling the truth and it's unlikely we'll ever find out. As the holidays approached, many were also waiting breathlessly to see if Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, would up and leave him, and of course how much of the golfer's sizable fortune she'd take with her. And this week, the entire golfing community seemed about to tip into the mire, with news that a number of fellow golfers knew Tiger was catting around — but kept their mouths shut.

2. Silvio Berlusconi

One from the Tiger Woods book: Berlusconi keeps everyone guessing about the number and, ahem, occupation of women either rumored, photographed — or even videotaped — in his company. The Italian Prime Minister was at the center of a swirl of scandal earlier in the year after claims emerged about the systematic recruitment of young women paid to attend private parties at his homes in Rome and Sardinia. And the Spanish newspaper El Pais published what it said were photos of racy parties at Berlusconi's villa on the island of Sardinia, including one picture that showed scantily clad women. In a more targeted attack on Berlusconi's character, the international media went into a frenzy this past spring over reports that Berlusconi went to the birthday party in Naples of an 18-year-old girl, with whom he has denied having an inappropriate relationship. Shortly thereafter, his wife of 19 years, Veronica Lario, filed for divorce.

3. Piero Marrazzo

Berlusconi's alleged dalliances with prostitutes and underage girls might have dominated Italian scandal sheets for more than six months, but they did have some competition. In Rome, a TV-host-turned-governor was forced to admit to a long history of frequenting transsexual prostitutes. Then talk of a murder was added to the mix. Piero Marrazzo was forced to step down as governor of Rome's region, Lazio, on Oct. 27 after an alleged blackmail scheme that set off the spiral of revelations about his private life. Prosecutors have now opened homicide investigations into the deaths of two people linked to Marrazzo, who was first elected in 2005 after years as host of a popular consumer watchdog talk show on the RAI national television network. Investigators say Marrazzo is not a suspect in the Nov. 20 arson that killed a Brazilian transgender prostitute known as Brenda, nor the September death of a Rome-based drug dealer named Gianguerino Cafasso that has now been ruled a homicide. But he has connections to both people. Marrazzo, who is married with three children, admitted to paying thousands of euros to be with several South American transgender prostitutes and to using cocaine.