Trump-backed Parnell loses custody battle and suspends campaign

HARRISBURGH, PA (AP) – Sean Parnell, a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump for the Pennsylvania Senate, suspended his campaign Monday after losing a legal battle over custody of his three children, in which a judge said he believed in accusations. of abuse by Parnell’s estranged wife.

In a statement, Parnell said he was devastated by the judge’s decision and planned to ask the judge to reconsider his decision, but he cannot continue his campaign.

A high-stakes campaign in the state of the battlefield could help establish control of the U.S. Senate in next year’s election.

The decision by a Butler County judge came two weeks after Parnell denied his ex-wife’s accusations that he hurt her and the children.

Judge James Arner wrote on Monday by order that Parnell’s estranged wife, Laurie Snell, would have sole legal custody of the school-aged children as well as primary physical custody. According to Arner, Parnell will be in care three days off a month.

Snell was “a more reliable witness,” Arner summed up in his 16-page opinion, saying that she could remember and describe details in a convincing manner.

The Pennsylvania Senate opens with the retirement of Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who served two terms, and both Republicans and Democrats have a large field of candidates in the politically divided state.

Parnell’s departure is prompted by many in the state’s GOP remaining indecisive about their area, including conservative commentator Katie Barnett, real estate investor Jeff Bartos and Karla Sands, Trump’s ambassador to Denmark.

Also in circulation is the proposal of Mehmet Oz, a cardiac surgeon and longtime host of the TV show “Doctor. The Oz Show “, known as the protégé of Oprah Winfrey, – that he is encouraged to participate in the Republican primaries.

Parnell’s departure represents a major blow to Trump, who enthusiastically supported Parnell in September with the support of his eldest son.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budovich said Trump and Parnell spoke prior to Parnell’s announcement and that Parnell informed Trump of his intention to suspend his campaign given the decision.

He said on Twitter that the Pennsylvania Senate race “remains a top priority” for the former president and that “rallying our movement to support America’s best candidate for first place remains critical.”

Parnell’s candidacy was consistently present in the custody case, and the judge, in his opinion, noted that Parnell argued that Snell “has motivation to embarrass him in public and damage his political career,” while Snell argued that Parnell “has a stake in maintaining public opinion. image and his political career ”.

Snell has testified to years of rage and abuse at the hands of Parnell, including once when he choked her so hard she had to bite him to free herself, and another time when he punched one of their children hard enough to there are scars on the child’s back. …

Rather, he considered Parnell’s testimony “less reliable”, stating that Parnell was “somewhat evasive,” and simply rejected Snell’s allegations.

“After reviewing credible evidence, I found that Sean Parnell did commit some acts of abuse in the past,” regarding Snell, Arner wrote. He also believed that Parnell hit the child, as Snell testified, Arner wrote.

But, he wrote, Snell, who previously agreed that Parnell may have extended periods of unsupervised custody, indicates that she does not believe he is harming children, Arner writes.

Snell’s lawyer, Jen Gilliland Vanasdale, said Snell was “grateful that justice was done.”

Testifying under oath on November 8, Parnell denied Snell’s accusations, stating that he never strangled her or pinned her to the ground, and never hit any of their children in a fit of rage.

Snell and Parnell have lived separately for at least three years, but have equally divided custody of their children.

Parnell’s story with his wife became the subject of a Republican primaries days after Trump’s approval.

Parnell, a former Army Ranger who led a platoon in Afghanistan, wrote a memoir of his service that became a New York Times bestseller. He also wrote four action films and became a regular on Fox News programs before running for Congress last year and gaining a coveted place to speak at the Republican National Convention.

Trump’s support came in early September, when Parnell was an in-demand guest on cable television and on conservative podcasts discussing the Taliban’s seizure of control of Afghanistan ahead of the American withdrawal.

Even amid headlines on the custody case, Trump backed his support for Parnell by scheduling a fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr. on January 25 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump’s allies have privately warned that his haphazard approval process, often driven by a desire for revenge or flattery rather than strategic considerations about who can best win the general election, could create headaches for him in the future.

Trump is very proud of his reputation, seeing it as an indicator of his political strength, and several aides have advised him to be smarter in his choices.

Besides Parnell, Trump has backed several other candidates who have faced charges of assaulting women, including former White House employee Max Miller. Miller denies the allegations.


Associated Press author Jill Colvin of New York contributed to this report. Follow Mark Levy on Twitter at

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