In sworn testimony at the beginning of a custody trial for their two children, the estranged wife of Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell claimed that he choked her and beat their kids.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Laura Snell testified that Parnell once “tried to choke me out on a couch and I literally had to bite him” to escape from the “strangling.” In court in Butler, a town north of Pittsburgh, she claimed under oath that Parnell called her a “whore” and a “piece of shit” while pinning her to the ground and that he forced her to get out of their vehicle on the side of highway in 2008 after telling her to “go get an abortion.” (Parnell’s campaign site states he will “always vote to protect the unborn.”) Snell alleged that her husband also slapped one of their children hard enough to leave welts under the child’s shirt, and that he once punched a closet door so hard it hit his child’s face and left a bruise, at which point he told his child: “That was your fault.” She claims that the abuse started in 2010, prior to their marriage, and that it grew worse in 2018, when he “started hitting the kids.” They separated that year.
Parnell has denied all allegations of abuse and in a statement on Monday, his campaign stated that he looked forward to presenting “the truth to the court” when he makes his case in the custody trial next week. In September, Republican primary challenger Jeff Bartos called Parnell “unelectable” due to two temporary protection-from-abuse orders that Snell filed against Parnell in 2017 and 2018. However, details of his alleged abuse were not made public until the custody trial; Parnell twice failed to secure a gag order to stop Snell from discussing the alleged abuse.
A former Army ranger, Parnell was diagnosed with PTSD after seeing serious combat while stationed in Afghanistan. After former President Donald Trump endorsed him in September, he became the leading Republican candidate in the race for the open seat of GOP senator Pat Toomey, who is not running next year. As the Inquirer notes, Parnell is now the second Senate candidate Trump has endorsed in 2022 who has allegedly abused a spouse: In Georgia, leading Republican candidate and former Bulldog running back Herschel Walker was accused by his wife of physically abusing her and pointing a gun at her head.