Ex-wife of Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Parnell testified he choked her, hit couple's children

The candidate has vehemently denied that his wife's claims are true
U.S. Senate Candidate Sean Parnell
U.S. Senate Candidate Sean Parnell
(Getty Images)

The estranged wife of Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell testified under oath Monday that he choked her until she bit him to escape, in addition to hitting their young children and repeatedly lashing out with expletives and insults.

Laurie Snell tearfully recounted to a family court judge stories of her husband calling her a "whore," kicking her out of his vehicle on the side of the road while she was pregnant and telling her to "go get an abortion," and punching a closet door so hard that it swung into a child's face, leaving a bruise.

Parnell's campaign released a statement disputing his wife's claims, calling several of them "lies," which he looks forward to contesting next week when he presents his case.

"Let me emphatically state: I have never raised a hand in anger toward my wife or any of our three children. What happened today in court was not justice, nor did it have any basis in fact or truth," reads the statement.

Monday was the beginning of a three-day custody trial in which Snell is seeking primary custody of the couple's three children, ages 8 to 12. The couple presently split custody of the kids, pictures of whom are prominently featured on Parnell's campaign website.

Parnell is a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. According to Snell, he was diagnosed with PTSD after seeing heavy combat during a 2006 tour. He received two Bronze Stars  and a Purple Heart in 2007. Snell claimed the Army has declared him 90% disabled. 

Snell's testimony came after Parnell twice attempted (unsuccessfully) to procure a gag order that would have prevented Snell from publicly discussing their marriage. 

In September, Republican primary rival businessman Jeff Bartos argued Parnell was "unelectable" due to the two temporary protection orders that had been granted to his wife in 2017 and 2018.

"Sean's actions and attitude toward women are disturbing, well-documented, and disqualifying. The citizens of Pennsylvania deserve to know this information," Bartos said.

Parnell was endorsed by former President Trump over the summer, and he spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Parnell was at the time running for a congressional seat in Pennsylvania. He is now running for the Senate seat that will be vacated by Republican Pat Toomey; it is likely to be a closely watched race as Republicans fight to win back a majority in the Senate.