The Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell has suspended his campaign after losing a custody fight due to his estranged wife’s testimony that he was physically abusive.
The ruling comes after Laurie Snell, Parnell’s wife, gave a heartbreaking testimony in court accusing Parnell of choking her, slapping one of their kids and slamming a door so hard it hit a child’s face and left a bruise — all of which Parnell denied.
Snell also accused Parnell of physically holding her down and screaming at her in what she called “Sean-a-logues” as well as screaming fits of “rage” directed at their children.
Senior Judge James Arner gave a ruling on Monday that Snell will get primary physical custody and sole legal custody of the couple’s three children, ages 8, 11 and 12.
Sean went on to say the incidents Snell described under oath were “made up.” But Snell was a “more credible witness,” according to the judge.
“She provided factual details of each incident, including when they happened and what happened,” the judge wrote, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “She testified in a convincing manner. Her testimony was not uncertain, confused, self-contradictory or evasive.”
While Sean on the other hand “simply denied that all of incidents ever happened, except he did describe his view of the incident when his younger son was hit by a closet door,” Arner wrote. “He was somewhat evasive. When weighing his position against Laurie Snell’s statements of detailed facts about many incidents, Sean Parnell’s position is less believable.”
The judge also listened to testimony from the children behind closed doors with attorneys present.
The judge said he did not believe Sean had been abusive in the last three-and-a-half years and said that both parents were “equally capable of providing adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the children.”
However, the judge did believe that Parnell committed acts of abuse in the past and ruled that Parnell’s physical custody will be limited to three weekends a month. Parnell said he was “devastated” after the ruling was announced and promptly withdrew from his race.
The judge cited Parnell’s candidacy as a major factor in his decision. “Availability is a major factor in this case,” he wrote, referring to frequent travel required to campaign for office.
Parnell also “expects to win the election and to reside parts of the year in Washington, D.C.,” the judge also wrote.
While Snell has a flexible work schedule and intends to remain in the area where the children attend school, the judge noted.
Judge Arner also noticed Parnell’s courtroom demeanor and attire in the ruling. “He was dressed very casually for his appearances in court, in blue jeans and untucked plaid shirts, which did not show respect for the seriousness of the occasion,” he wrote. “While testifying, [Parnell] looked mainly in the direction of his attorneys and toward members of the news media in the back of the courtroom, rather than at me.”
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