Parnell said in a statement: “To me, nothing is more important than my children. Although I plan to ask the court to reconsider, I cannot continue to run in the Senate.”
But the allegations against Parnell by his separated wife have caused some Republicans to worry about his viability as a candidate. Snell accused Parnell of physically abusing her and hurting their children twice, which Parnell denied.
The judge wrote that when it came to her allegations of abuse, he considered Snell to be a credible witness-although these allegations were not the most important factor in the judge’s custody decision.
“I strongly disagree with today’s ruling. I am very shocked by this decision. I plan to ask the court to reconsider this decision. In the order, the two main factors that have a significant impact on the judge’s decision revolve around me as a major candidate for the U.S. Senate. People,” Parnell said in the statement. “My current focus is 100% on my children, and I want them to know that I don’t have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them.”
Parnell will still provide partial supervision of the child on different weekends of each month.
“Ms. Snell is grateful for the victory of justice,” said a statement from the law firm Gilliland Vanasdale Sinatra, who represents Snell. “She has been granted the sole legal and primary physical custody of their children. She will, as always, focus on their best interests.”
The court proceedings revealed the unstable relationship between Snell and Parnell, which ultimately hindered Parnell’s political ambitions.
Snell accused Parnell of throwing a chair at her; when she was six months pregnant, he sent her to the interstate and told her to have an abortion; according to court documents, she choked and strangled her.
“Considering the credible evidence, I found out that Sean Parnell did commit some abuses in the past,” Judge James G. Arner wrote about Snell’s allegations of abuse. . “However, because the incident involving Laurie Snell occurred so many years ago and did not involve children, they have nothing to do with this custody decision. I did not investigate specific things that happened or did not happen.”
Regarding Parnell’s two accusations of harming their children, the judge concluded that these incidents occurred “as Laurie Snell described, but I do not value the evidence because three and a half years have passed. , There are no further incidents.”
The judge concluded that incidents involving children did not constitute child abuse. He pointed out that children did not express concerns about their safety.
“Laurie Snell has agreed that Sean Parnell can have unsupervised custody for a long time, which shows that she does not believe that he poses a threat to her children. The children have not expressed any concerns about their safety.”
In assessing the credibility of Snell and Parnell—they often provide conflicting statements in their guardianship trial testimony, especially around abuse allegations—the judge found Snell to be more credible.
“She testified in a convincing way. Her testimony was not uncertain, confusing, contradictory, or evasive. Her testimony was consistent with that of Sean Parnell, that they had a noisy relationship and often quarreled. ,” the judge wrote.
In contrast, the judge disputed Parnell’s behavior in court, stating that Parnell was wearing jeans and an unpleated shirt casually. He also pointed out that Parnell looked at his lawyer and the news media, not the judge, when he testified.
“When evaluating Sean Parnell’s testimony, I found it to be unreliable. He simply denied that all incidents occurred,” the judge wrote. “He is a little evasive. When weighing his position with Laurie Snell’s detailed factual statements about many events, Sean Parnell’s position is not very credible.”
Senate campaign against Parnell
After the three-day custody trial, the judge’s opinion was that he concluded that “both parents love their children and provide them with proper parental care”, but he stated that the parents failed to communicate and compromise. Prevent them from effectively sharing guardianship.
Judges need to consider 16 different factors when determining guardianship, most importantly the children’s needs for stability and continuity, whether parents have the opportunity to take care of their children, the degree of conflict between parents and their willingness to cooperate.
Parnell’s Senate campaign was against him in the custody struggle. The judge pointed out that Parnell would travel frequently to run for elections, and if he wins, he would spend part of his time in Washington, DC.
The judge wrote: “These circumstances will definitely limit his ability to exercise primary physical custody of the child.”
As previously reported by CNN, although Parnell was supported by Trump in his Senate campaign, the allegations of his separated wife are having an impact on his campaign.
Parnell cancelled fundraising activities and reduced his appearance in conservative media. Several Republican agents in and out of Pennsylvania told CNN that they did not see how Parnell’s campaign continued to follow the ruling — the campaign relied heavily on his children, including his relationship with their parents on the homepage of the website. Photo.
Earlier this month, Parnell’s staff informed Trump’s team that if he did not obtain custody of the child, Parnell planned to suspend his campaign.
Trump spokesman Budovic said on Twitter that this seat is “still a top priority” for Trump.
This story has been updated with more information.
Gabby Orr contributed to this report.
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