Years before her divorce, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst was assaulted by her husband after she confronted him about his relationship with their daughter’s babysitter, she wrote in court filings.
Ernst, a Republican who represents Iowa, said that during her 26-year marriage with Gail Ernst, she was the victim of verbal and mental abuse and a physical assault after which a victim’s advocate wanted to take her to a hospital, she wrote in public records connected to their divorce.
While she was county auditor, according to Joni Ernst’s affidavit, her husband had a “special friendship” with their daughter’s babysitter, whom she said he spent time with even when their daughter was not there. The affidavit wasn’t specific about when the argument happened, but she confronted him about it.
Joni Ernst said she fled to her mother’s house with her daughter in the middle of the night. Gail Ernst followed soon after, crying and apologizing, according to her affidavit.
The next day, a victim’s advocate at the courthouse performed an examination of Ernst’s throat and head, she said; the advocate wanted to take Ernst to the hospital, according to the court filing. Ernst declined, writing that she was “embarrassed and humiliated” and did not want people to know about what she described as an assault.