Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Sean Parnell has announced he’s dropping out of the race after losing a contentious custody battle against his estranged wife who’s accused him of abuse.
“In the order, two of the leading factors that weighed heavily in the judge’s decision revolved around me being a leading U.S. Senate candidate. There is nothing more important to me than my children, and while I plan to ask the court to reconsider, I can’t continue with a Senate campaign,” Parnell said in a statement, adding that he “strongly” disagreed with the ruling.
“My focus right now is 100% on my children, and I want them to know I do not have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them.”
Parnell received Trump’s coveted endorsement for the Republican race and informed the former president on Monday that he is suspending his campaign.
The phone call, closing this chapter of Parnell’s political career, was brief—with Trump letting him down easy. According to a person familiar with the matter, the ex-president and current leader of the Republican Party told Parnell on Monday that he was right to focus on appealing the court’s custody decision.
The Washington Post reports that Parnell’s wife, Laurie Snell, has accused him of choking her, throwing chairs at her, pinning her down, and calling her a “whore” and a “piece of shit.”
Snell testified in their custody dispute that Parnell “tried to choke [her] out on a couch and [she] literally had to bite him” to free herself from his grip. “He was strangling me,” she alleged.
Parnell’s children were victims of his abuse as well, Snell claimed, tearfully recalling alleged instances in which Parnell hit one of their kids so hard he left a “full handprint” on the child’s back. Parnell allegedly once was so furious at his child that he punched a closet door, which then swung into the child’s face, leaving a bruise. Parnell told the child, “That was your fault,” according to Snell.
She also accused Parnell of seeking a gag order to silence her from going public about the abuse allegations—twice—both of which were denied.
Parnell has vehemently denied these allegations, calling them “complete fabrications.”
Senior Judge James Arner did not agree and ultimately gave Snell primary custody of the couple’s three children, calling Snell the “more credible witness” who “can truthfully give regular status reports to Sean Parnell and, as may be needed, to the court.”