Republican Sean Parnell is suspending his candidacy for the Pennsylvania Senate

The decision comes after a judge granted Laurie Snell, Parell’s estranged wife, primary physical custody and sole legal custody of the couple’s three children, according to a ruling released Monday. The judge also ruled that Parnell had previously committed some violent acts against his wife.

“There is nothing more important to me than my children, and although I plan to ask the court to reconsider, I can not pursue a Senate campaign,” Parnell said in a statement.

Parnell spoke with Trump on Monday to inform him of his plans, according to Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich. The former president had backed Parnell, an Army veteran and former congressional candidate, in September in the competitive Republican primary. GOP Senator Pat Toomey is not running for re-election, and Democrats see the seat as one of their best pick-up options heading into the 2022 interim period.

But accusations against Parnell by his estranged wife had given rise to concern among some Republicans about his viability as a candidate. Snell has on two occasions accused Parnell of being physically violent towards her and injuring their children on two occasions, Parnell claims to have denied.

The judge wrote that he found Snell to be a credible witness when it came to her allegations of abuse – even though those allegations were not the main factors in the judge’s decision on custody.

“I very much disagree with the ruling today and I am crushed by the decision. I plan to ask the court to reconsider this decision. In the ruling, two of the leading factors that weighed heavily in the judge’s decision revolved around the fact that I was a leading U.S. Senate candidate, “Parnell said in his statement. “My focus right now is 100% on my kids and I want them to know that I have no other priorities and will never stop fighting for them.”

Parnell will still have partial physical custody of the children on different weekends each month.

“Ms. Snell is grateful that justice prevailed,” according to a statement from the Gilliland Vanasdale Sinatra Law Office, which represented Snell. “She has been granted the sole legal and primary physical custody of their children. She will, as always, continue to focus on their best interests.”

‘A tumultuous relationship’

Lawsuits revealed a fleeting relationship between Snell and Parnell, which ultimately hampered Parnell’s political hopes.

Snell has accused Parnell of throwing chairs at her; handing her over on an interstate road when she was six months pregnant and telling her she was going to have an abortion; and suffocates and suffocates her, according to court documents.

“Upon considering the credible evidence, I find that Sean Parnell has committed some abuse in the past,” Judge James G. Arner wrote of the allegations of abuse concerning Snell. “But since incidents involving Laurie Snell took place so many years ago and did not involve the children, they are not relevant to this decision on custody. I do not make a conclusion specifically about what happened or did not happen.”

Allegations of abuse cast a shadow over Sean Parnell's Senate campaign

With regard to the allegations that Parnell injured their children on two occasions, the judge concluded that the incidents took place “as described by Laurie Snell, but I do not emphasize this evidence because a period of three and a half years has passed without further unintended event.”

The judge concluded that the incidents involving the children did not constitute child abuse and he noted that the children did not express concern for their safety.

“The fact that Laurie Snell has accepted that Sean Parnell may have significant periods of unsupervised custody indicates that she does not see him as a threat of harm to the children. The children have not expressed concern for their safety.”

By assessing the credibility of Snell and Parnell – who often gave conflicting accounts in their testimony about custody, especially around the abuse charges – the judge found Snell more credible.

“She testified in a convincing manner. Her testimony was not uncertain, confused, contradictory or evasive. Her testimony is consistent with Sean Parell’s testimony that they had a tumultuous relationship and fought hard,” the judge wrote.

In contrast, the judge questioned Parnell’s behavior in court, noting that Parnell dressed casually in jeans and shirts that were not hidden. He also noted that Parnell looked at his lawyers and the news media during his testimony, rather than at the judge.

“By assessing Sean Parell’s testimony, I find it less credible. He simply denied that all incidents have ever happened,” the judge wrote. “He was somewhat evasive. When one weighs his position against Laurie Snell’s statement of detailed facts about many incidents, Sean Parnell’s position is less credible.”

The Senate campaign worked against Parnell

In the judge’s statement, which followed a three-day custody case, he concluded that both “parents love their children and provide proper parental care for them”, but he said the parents’ lack of communication and compromise prevented them from effectively sharing custody.

The judge, who must consider 16 separate factors in deciding custody, attached the greatest importance to the children’s need for stability and continuity, the parents’ availability to take care of the children and the level of conflict between the parents and their willingness to cooperate. .

Parnell’s Senate campaign worked against him in the fight for custody. The judge noted that Parnell would have traveled frequently for a campaign, and if he had won, he would have spent part of his time in Washington, DC.

Trump supported Herschel Walker, Max Miller and Sean Parnell.  They are now facing scrutiny of their past

“These circumstances certainly limit his ability to have primary physical custody of the children,” the judge wrote.

While Parnell had enjoyed Trump’s support in his Senate proposal, accusations from his estranged wife took a toll on his campaign, as CNN previously reported.

Parnell had canceled fundraising events and turned down his appearances in conservative media. Several Republican agents in and out of Pennsylvania had told CNN they could not see how Parnell’s campaign – which has relied heavily on his children, including a large photo of him with them on his website – could continue to follow the decision.

Earlier this month, Parnell staff informed Trump’s team that Parnell planned to suspend his campaign if he did not gain custody of his children.

Budowich, Trump’s spokesman, tweeted that the seat “remains a top priority” for Trump.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Gabby Orr contributed to this report.


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