Trump-backed Senate Candidate Sean Parnell Accused of Hurting Wife, Loses Custody Fight

Senate Candidate Sean Parnell lost a court fight with his wife on Monday, losing custody of his three children just two weeks after he denied all allegations of abuse against his wife and children in a divorce trial.

Parnell's wife, Laurie Snell, previously Parnell, testified during a divorce and custody proceeding on November 1, claiming that Sean Parnell had choked her, called her a "whore" and hit their children. She also accused him of slapping one of their children hard enough to leave welts under the child's t-shirt. Snell also said that Parnell called her a "piece of s---" while pinning her down, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"He tried to choke me out on a couch and I literally had to bite him [to get free]," she said in court. "He was strangling me."

Parnell denied all claims against him, saying in a statement, "I have never raised a hand in anger towards my wife or any of our three children."

Judge James Arner wrote in a docket entry on Monday that Snell will have sole legal custody of the three school-age children, as well as primary physical custody. Parnell will be allowed to have physical custody on three weekends per month, Arner wrote.

The decision made Monday by Butler County judge James Arner could affect Parnell's candidacy in Pennsylvania for United States Senate. Parnell was endorsed by former President Donald Trump for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania and now could face a harsh loss in the battleground state.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Sean Parnell
Senate Candidate Sean Parnell lost a court fight with his wife on Monday, losing custody of his three children just two weeks after he denied all abuse allegations against his wife and children in a divorce trial. Above, Pennsylvania Republican congressional candidate Sean Parnell speaks ahead of a campaign rally with President Donald Trump September 22, 2020, in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Snell was "the more credible witness," Arner wrote.

Snell's lawyer, Jen Gilliland Vanasdale, said Snell "is grateful that justice prevailed." Parnell's campaign had no immediate comment.

Testifying under oath on November 8, Parnell denied Snell's allegations, saying he had never choked her or pinned her down, and never struck one of their children in a fit of rage.

Snell and Parnell have been living apart for at least three years, but have split custody of their children evenly.

Parnell's history with his wife became a subject in the Republican primary campaign, days after Trump endorsed Parnell over several other rivals.

Sean Parnell Laurie wife domestic abuse pennsylvania
The judge granted Sean Parnell physical custody of the three children three times a month after a divorce and custody hearing where his now-ex-wife claimed he abused her and the children. In this photo, Parnell addresses the virtual Republican National Convention on August 24, 2020. Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images