“Nothing is more important to me than my children, and while I intend to ask the court to reconsider, I cannot continue to campaign in the Senate,” Parnell said in a statement.
But the allegations against Parnell from his estranged wife have raised concerns among some Republicans about his ability to run for office. Snell has accused Parnell of physically abusing her and injuring their children twice, a claim Parnell has denied.
The judge wrote that he found Snell to be a credible witness when bringing her allegations of abuse – even though those allegations were not the most important factor in the judge’s custody decision.
“I truly disagree with today’s ruling and I am devastated by this decision. I intend to ask the court to review this decision. In that order, two of the top factors weigh heavily. in the judge’s decision that hinges on me being the head of the United States Senate candidate,” Parnell said in his statement. “I am 100% focused on my children and I want them to know that I am doesn’t have any other priorities and won’t stop fighting for them.”
Parnell will still have partial physical custody of the children on different weekends each month.
“Mrs Snell is grateful that justice prevailed,” according to a statement from the Law Office of Gilliland Vanasdale Sinatra, which represents Snell. “She has been given sole and primary legal custody of their children. She will continue, as always, to focus on their best interests.”
‘A tumultuous relationship’
Court proceedings revealed the tumultuous relationship between Snell and Parnell, which ultimately thwarted Parnell’s political aspirations.
Snell accused Parnell of throwing a chair at her; dropped her off on the interstate when she was six months pregnant and told her to have an abortion; and strangled her, according to court documents.
“After reviewing the credible evidence, I find that Sean Parnell has committed a number of abuses in the past,” wrote Judge James G. Arner of the abuse allegations involving Snell. “However, because the cases involving Laurie Snell happened many years ago and did not involve the children, they are not relevant to this determination of guardianship. I do not draw specific conclusions about this. what happened or not.”
As for the allegation that Parnell injured their child twice, the judge concluded that the incidents occurred “as Laurie Snell describes, but I don’t put too much weight on that evidence because a period of three and a half years has passed without no further. incident.”
The judge concluded that the cases involving the children were not child abuse and he noted that the children did not express concern for their safety.
“The fact that Laurie Snell agrees that Sean Parnell can have significant periods of time unsupervised shows that she doesn’t see him as a threat of harm to the children. The children did not express any concerns. about their safety.”
In assessing the credibility of Snell and Parnell – who often provided conflicting accounts in their guardianship trial testimony, particularly around allegations of abuse – the judge found Snell more reliable.
“She testified convincingly. Her testimony was uncertain, confused, self-contradictory or evasive. Her testimony parallels Sean Parnell’s testimony that they had an illicit relationship. fine and fought a lot,” the judge wrote.
In contrast, the judge took issue with Parnell’s conduct in court, noting that Parnell was dressed casually in jeans and an unbuttoned shirt. He also noted that Parnell looked at his attorneys and the news media in his testimony, rather than looking at the judge.
“In assessing Sean Parnell’s testimony, I found it less believable. He simply denied that all of the incidents had ever occurred,” the judge wrote. “He’s somewhat evasive. When weighing his stance against Laurie Snell’s claims of detailed facts about many of the incidents, Sean Parnell’s views are less believable.”
The senate campaign was active against Parnell
In the judge’s opinion, after a three-day custody trial, he concluded that both “parents love their children and provide them with parental care.” , but he says parents’ failure to communicate and compromise has prevented them from effectively sharing custody.
The judge, who was asked to consider 16 distinct factors when determining custody, placed most weight on the child’s steady and ongoing need, the parents’ willingness to care for the child, and the level of conflict between parents and their willingness to cooperate. .
Parnell’s Senate campaign turned against him in the custody battle. The judge noted that Parnell will often travel on campaign trips and, if he wins, will spend part of his time in Washington, DC.
“These circumstances certainly limited his ability to have primary physical custody of the children,” the judge wrote.
While Parnell has won Trump’s endorsement in his Senate bid, accusations from his estranged wife have taken a toll on his campaign, as CNN previously reported.
Parnell has canceled fundraising events and reduced appearances in conservative media. Multiple Republican agents in and out of Pennsylvania have told CNN they don’t know how Parnell’s campaign, which relies heavily on his children, includes a large photo of him with them. on his website – may continue according to the judgment.
Earlier this month, Parnell employees informed Trump’s team that Parnell plans to suspend his campaign if he does not receive custody of the children.
Budowich, a Trump 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.