Lawmaker Leaves Office After Bitter Divorce Became 'Epic Struggle' as Husband Slams 'Outrageous' Claims
With her exit from office, Connecticut state Sen. Alex Kasser is spotlighting a messy split from husband Seth Bergstein, a prominent banking executive
A Connecticut state lawmaker said this week she was leaving office amid a contentious divorce from her husband and that it was "too painful" to keep living in the area she represents.
State Sen. Alex Kasser, who changed her last name from Bergstein in February, said in a statement Tuesday that "it is with deep sadness" that she was announcing her resignation.
Kasser, 54, had represented the state's 36th district, which includes Greenwich and portions of New Canaan and Stamford. She was the first Democrat to win the district since 1930, upsetting a five-term Republican for the seat in 2018.
With her exit from office, Kasser is spotlighting a messy split from husband Seth Bergstein, a prominent banking executive.
She claims the years-long divorce was fueled by her coming out as gay and him refusing to let her leave though he calls her version a "fabricated narrative" and noted that their kids chose to live with him.
The couple married in 1995 and have three now-grown children together, according to the Associated Press.
"For nearly three years, I've been trying to divorce Seth Bergstein," Kasser said in her statement Tuesday, which also claimed she had been "trapped in an abusive situation" by Bergstein, 55 - an allegation he vehemently denied.
She said in her statement she was proud of her own work advancing legislation supporting abuse survivors.
"As all survivors of domestic abuse know, emancipating ourselves is an epic struggle that takes years, requires unflinching courage and all our resources - mental, physical, and financial," she said.
Kasser claimed her husband "uses his powerful position at Morgan Stanley to enable his conduct" and that she's fighting for their divorce to be finalized.
"Because of the enormous time and energy this consumes, I can no longer serve my constituents to my fullest ability," she said.
In an editorial in October, Kasser wrote that "ten years ago I told my husband I was gay and asked for a divorce," which she said he did not accept.
Instead, she claimed, he threatened he would "take full custody of our kids and use my sexuality against me in court," and so she stayed in their marriage for eight more years.
Janet A. Battey, a divorce lawyer representing Bergstein, told the AP this week that Kasser's allegations were "outrageous" and "couldn't be further from the truth."
Bergstein is a top executive at Morgan Stanley, leading the New York City investment banks' global services department and working as the company's managing director. He has spent his entire career at the company, since taking a job as a financial analyst in 1988.
Battey, his attorney, tells PEOPLE that his "priority is the wellbeing of his three children - all of whom have chosen to reside with him - and he is not going to disparage their mother in a public forum or engage in a detailed response to her fabricated narrative."
"Any suggestion of abuse is untrue," Battey says. "He trusts that the legal process and the court are the appropriate forum for their divorce to be resolved and finalized."
A review of the court docket suggests intense legal maneuvering in the couple's divorce case: There have been more than 200 filings since 2018, when the case began. The latest filing came Tuesday, the same day Kasser notified the state she had resigned.
The court docket shows Kasser has hired attorney Robert Cohen, who is also representing Melinda Gates in her divorce from Bill Gates. Cohen previously represented Ivana Trump and Marla Maples during their divorces from former President Donald Trump, according to CNBC.
Kasser alleged in her resignation statement that her partner, Nichola Samponaro, who is her former campaign manager, has also been targeted by "lies ... and harassing court motions" from Bergstein.
"She had nothing to do with ending my marriage," Kasser said.
She said that in addition to leaving office, she would be leaving the Greenwich area she represented "as it is loaded with memories of the 20 years I spent raising my children here."
"It is too painful to be in Greenwich now that I've been erased from their lives, just as their father promised would happen if I ever left him," she said.