As divorce proceedings begin, Craig Schelske tells reporters he still loves his wife

By Eileen Finan
Updated October 26, 2006 03:55 PM
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Country singer Sara Evans and her estranged husband, Craig Schelske, faced each other in a Tennessee court Thursday morning for the first time since Evans filed for divorce on Oct. 12, charging Schelske with adultery and pornography use. (He denied the allegations and later accused Evans of having an affair.)

Though the atmosphere was tense in the Williamson County, Tenn., court room, the couple agreed to divide some of their assets and Schelske, who is under a restraining order and not allowed in the family home in Franklin, Tenn., consented to look for new housing. They also agreed to discuss visitation rights for their three children, ages 7, 3 and 2.

Schelske had asked that the court allow him to move back to their home, saying the allegations of abuse and infidelity were false. His attorney, Anne Russell, told the court that Schelske had not seen his children since Evans filed for divorce and had only spoken to them once a few days earlier.

“Mr. Schelske has been evicted from his home and we do not see a single indication that there is a danger to anyone,” said Russell, prompting Evans’s lawyer, John J. Hollins, to object, saying that he has additional evidence of Schelske’s pornography use and Schelske’s profile is posted on a dating Web site.

Judge Robert E. Lee Davies recommended that the two maintain separate residences, saying, “By the nature of this proceeding, there is tension here and there will be tension in the home and the children are going to feel that.”

Evans and Schelske decided to split in half a joint bank account of $274,000; Schelske, who told the court he has no independent source of income, was to use his share to find housing.

The two sides also agreed not to speak to the media, although a motion to close the proceedings to cameras was refused by the judge.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Schelske walked over to Evans, whose hair was pulled back in a bun and who was wearing a dark brown trouser suit with a gold cross necklace, and tried to speak with her, calling her name and whispering to her for several seconds. Saying nothing, Evans shook her head and turned away from him.

When asked by reporters outside the courtroom if he still loved his wife, Schelske said, “I do.” Asked the same question, Evans made no comment.

Also in court was Ronald J. Burke, a lawyer for the couple’s former nanny, Alison Clinton, who Evans claims had an affair with Schelske. Burke said that Evans’s lawyers told him they have photographs showing his client and Schelske being intimate, but he says Clinton maintains her innocence.

“They won’t show us any photographs and we are convinced that there are no photographs because Alison did not have a sexual relationship with him,” he said. He added that Clinton denied any sexual contact with Schelske when she underwent, and passed, a two-hour lie detector test last week during an interview with TV’s Entertainment Tonight.

A judge agreed to removed Clinton’s name from court documents, a move Clinton priased. “I cannot thank the Williamson County courthouse enough,” Clinton told PEOPLE. “I’m really grateful.”

Reps for both Schelske and Evans had no comment.