Trump-backed Pennsylvania Senate candidate loses battle for primary custody of children

Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell lost his legal battle for custody of his three children on Monday, with a judge ruling in favor of his estranged wife, who has accused Parnell of physical and verbal abuse.

The judge granted Parnell’s wife, Laurie Snell, primary physical custody and sole legal custody. 

The custody battle between Parnell and Snell had captured national attention in recent weeks, especially after Snell testified under oath that Parnell had physically and verbally abused her. In his testimony, Parnell forcefully denied those allegations. 

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But a docket entry in the child custody case said that the judge overseeing the matter found Snell to be more credible.

Parnell and Snell separated in 2018. The couple has three children, ages 12, 11 and 8. Parnell will be able to have the children for three weekends a month.

Parnell, a retired Army Ranger who ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. House seat in Pennsylvania last year, has already been endorsed by former President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE in the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) next year. 

While he once appeared the GOP primary field’s likely front-runner, the ruling in the custody case is likely to deal a serious blow to Parnell’s Senate bid. A spokesperson for his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the custody ruling.