Keith Srakocic / AP
Sean Parnell has suspended his campaign to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate after a court order released on Monday granted the Republican’s ex-wife sole legal custody and primary physical custody of the couple’s three children.
Parnell’s wife Laurie Snell accused him of a litany of abuse, ranging from suffocating her and hitting one of their children, to trying to convince her to abort while she was pregnant with six months, according to media reports.
NPR member station WESA reports that during a custody hearing, Parnell flatly denied the allegations. When shown a photo that allegedly showed a handprint-like welt on his son’s back, Parnell replied, “This is not a photo of my son.”
Parnell and Snell had requested sole custody of the three children. The judge concluded that Parnell was the “less credible” witness, according to the Washington post.
In a statement released Monday announcing the suspension of his campaign, Parnell said he was “devastated” by the judge’s decision:
“I strongly disagree with today’s decision and am devastated by the decision. I intend to ask the court to reconsider this decision. 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 US Senate. There is nothing more important to me than my children, and although I intend to ask the court to reconsider my decision, I cannot continue a campaign in the Senate. I am currently 100% focused on my children, and I want them to know that I have no other priorities and that I will never stop fighting for them. Thank you. “
As part of the judge’s ruling, Parnell will have custody of the three children three weekends a month.
Former President Donald Trump has backed Parnell, an army veteran, for the crucial Pennsylvania Senate seat that will be vacated by the retirement of Republican Pat Toomey.