'He Would Just Rage': Senate Candidate's Wife Testifies He Abused Her and Their Kids as He Denounces 'Lies'

In response, Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell said in response: "The truth is I love my family and I love my children more than anything"

Sean Parnell
Photo: Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock

The estranged wife of leading Senate candidate Sean Parnell spoke under oath in Pennsylvania court on Monday about what she described as his harrowing history of violence toward her and their three young kids — which he adamantly denies.

Laurie Snell testified in Butler County family court that in separate incidents Parnell choked her, slapped one of their children hard enough to leave a mark beneath the child's T-shirt and punched a door causing it to swing and hit and bruise a child's face, according to an account by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"He tried to choke me out on a couch and I literally had to bite him" to get free, Snell reportedly told the judge. "He was strangling me."

The Inquirer reports that Parnell, 40, issued a statement on Monday accusing Snell of giving "a number of false allegations" on the stand. Without specifying the comments, he said she told "complete fabrications; not distortions or misrepresentations — just flat-out lies."

"The truth is I love my family and I love my children more than anything," he said. (His attorney and campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment; a court official said the transcript from Snell's testimony — which an Inquirer reporter and others attended — wasn't yet available.)

Parnell, a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, announced his candidacy for the Senate in May. He's seeking the seat of fellow Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who won't run for re-election next year.

In September, Parnell's front-runner status was cemented by the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, whose approval is often key in primaries. (Among the Democrats vying to challenge him is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.)

Parnell's pitch to voters has now become marred by his wife's allegations amid their custody dispute and after he had unsuccessfully sought to keep the court proceedings private.

He and Snell began dating in 2008, according to her testimony on Monday. She also claimed in court that Parnell's disturbing behavior began in the first few months of their relationship, when he threw a chair across the kitchen in reaction to her mentioning an ex-boyfriend, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

"When he started hitting the kids in 2018, that was the final straw," Snell reportedly testified. That was when the couple separated.

Snell has filed a petition for sole custody of the children, who are 12, 11 and 8.

She also said she considered calling the police, but her husband warned her not to because the family depended on his image to earn income as a public speaker, author and commentator. "We were all walking on eggshells," said Snell, who also claimed her husband was diagnosed with PTSD after his service in Afghanistan, where he was involved in combat.

Snell's brother likewise testified about Parnell's explosive episodes and witnessing him have a "PTSD episode," according to the Tribune-Review.

Sean Parnell
Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty

According to his campaign bio, Parnell "spent 485 days of fierce fighting along the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2006-2007, where he honed his unique leadership skills" and earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor during the deployment.

Snell told the judge that Parnell would sometimes hold her down and scream at her in what she called "Sean-a-logues," the Inquirer reports.

His anger was also directed at their children, she told the court. "As I would parent, he would tell them not to listen to me," she said, according to the Tribune-Review's report. "He would just rage at them. He would scream and scream, and you couldn't stop him."

Parnell was reportedly in court for his wife's testimony but has not taken the stand yet himself in the custody case, and Snell was not cross-examined in Monday's hearing.

"Let me emphatically state: I have never raised a hand in anger towards my wife or any of our three children," Parnell said in his statement Monday, according to the local news reports. "What happened today in court was not justice, nor did it have any basis in fact or truth."

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