Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell announced he was suspending his Senate campaign after his ex-wife was granted legal custody of their children in a court ruling on Monday morning.
Parnell said in a statement he was “devastated” by the court ruling, which grants Laurie Snell sole legal custody and primary physical custody of their three children, ages 8, 11 and 12, and leaves Parnell with partial physical custody, according to public court records.
“I strongly disagree with today’s decision and am devastated by the decision. I plan to ask the court to reconsider this decision, ”Parnell wrote, suggesting he intended to appeal.
Judge James Arner oversaw the child custody hearings, which took place earlier this month in Butler County, Pa., In a bitter divorce proceeding that has been ongoing for years, but became very public in the midst of Parnell’s candidacy. In her quest for full custody, Snell accused Parnell of behaving abusively towards her and their children and that her work schedule was not conducive to performing her current custody duties, which were, to the time, shared between the two parents.
In the order, two of the main factors that weighed heavily in the judge’s decision revolved around me as a leading candidate for the Senate. There is nothing more important to me than my children, and although I intend to ask the court to reconsider, I cannot continue with a campaign in the Senate. I am currently 100% focused on my kids, and I want them to know that I have no other priorities and that I will never stop fighting for them.
The judge’s ruling comes after Snell specifically accused Parnell of hitting one of their children on the back in 2018 and knocking on a door that hit another of their children in the head, also in 2018. Snell also accused Parnell of strangling her until she had to bite him for him to stop.
Parnell denied all accusations of physical abuse during the hearings, and his current partner and their children’s longtime nanny both reinforced his denial in their own testimonials, in which they praised Parnell’s parenting abilities and rejected any idea that he had or would physically harm his children.
Arner said in his ruling that he found the two incidents with the children “took place” but that he “did not give weight to that evidence” because more than three years have passed “without further incident “.
Arner said that because the “incidents” – which he did not specify – involving Snell “happened so many years ago and did not involve the children,” they were “irrelevant. “for the provisions relating to custody. Arner noted that he “was not making a conclusion about what happened or did not happen”.
The judge highlighted the scheduling issues, saying: “Availability is a major factor in this case,” and referred to Snell’s “flexible work schedule” compared to Parnell being a “top candidate. for the United States Senate “who would need to travel” frequently. “
The judge also noted that “both parties are equally at fault for refusing to communicate effectively,” adding that giving a parent primary responsibility is necessary until the will to communicate is restored.
The judge considered Snell the “most credible witness” and said she would therefore be “genuinely” able to provide progress reports to Parnell and the court if necessary.
Parnell’s campaign suspension leaves a wide opening in the Republican Senate primary field. Parnell, an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his time in Afghanistan, was a prominent candidate backed by former President Donald Trump and had demonstrated political impetus after barely losing to Rep Conor Lamb (D-PA) in his first application for a position in 2020.
Write to Ashley Oliver at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.