Donald Trump may think otherwise, but if a man can’t be trusted with his own children, one has to wonder why Pennsylvania voters would trust him with their vote. As reported by Kate Riga for TalkingPointsMemo:
A judge granted sole legal custody to Laurie Snell, the estranged wife of Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania Sean Parnell, after a bitter custody battle in which Snell accused him of assaulting both her and their children.
Shortly after the court’s findings were made public, Parnell announced he was dropping his Senate bid, according to The Washington Post. Parnell had been considered the leader of the Republican field in the race to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. (On the Democratic side, current Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb are among the hopefuls.) Parnell’s departure opens up the Republican field to a host of lesser-known candidates, as well as the potential entry of Fox News “personality” Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The four-year custody dispute between Parnell—who Donald Trump heartily endorsed as the kind of man he’d want representing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate—and Parnell’s former wife, Laurie Snell, came to a swift end today, with a Common Pleas judge expressing a dim view of Parnell’s ability to tell the truth:
“Laurie Snell was the more credible witness and she can truthfully give regular status reports to Sean Parnell and, as may be needed, to the court,” Butler County Senior Common Pleas Judge James Arner wrote. He awarded sole legal custody and primary physical custody to Snell, with partial physical custody to Parnell on some weekends each month.
Just in case there was any doubt, the judge specifically noted: “When weighing his position against Laurie Snell’s statements of detailed facts about many incidents, Sean Parnell’s position is less believable.”
In the order, Arner recounted the abuse Snell had alleged: Parnell throwing chairs at her, dropping her off at the side of a highway when she was six months pregnant and telling her to get an abortion, trying to strangle her and hitting the children.
As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, apparently some of the assertions Arner found credible were Snell’s claims that Parnell had “choked her, hit their young children and lashed out at her with obscenities and insults.”
At several points during the three-day hearing, lawyers for both sides drilled down into the details of two specific allegations brought by Ms. Snell. One in which Mr. Parnell punched a closet door so hard that it flew into their child’s face, leaving a bruise, and another that he once slapped one of their children hard enough to leave fingerprint-shaped welts on the child’s back through his t-shirt.
Asked about the alleged closet door incident, Mr. Parnell described it as an accident and that as he was changing for the gym, his son’s head popped around the closet door. His reaction startled the child, Mr. Parnell said, and his son pulled his head back and bumped it on the door. Allegations that it was the result of an angry punch could “not be further from the truth,” Mr. Parnell testified.
As to the alleged slapping incident, when shown a photograph depicting his son’s bare back with fingerprint-sized welts taken shortly afterward, Parnell strenuously denied that the photograph depicted his child’s back. But apparently the court didn’t find that credible either.
As pointed out by Riga, Parnell was merely “one of multiple Republican Senate candidates accused of violence or making threats this cycle, a list that also includes Herschel Walker in Georgia and Former Gov. Eric Greitens in Missouri.” With a record of assault, abuse, and misogynistic declarations, all now seemingly established, Parnell had endeared himself to a Republican Party that has for the past five years sought to align itself as closely as possible to the values of Donald Trump.