Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Sean Parnell Loses Custody of Children amid Ongoing Divorce Proceedings

Sean Parnell
Facebook/Sean Parnell

The estranged wife of Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell was granted sole legal custody of their three children in a court ruling in Butler County, Pennsylvania, on Monday.

Laurie Snell, who shared custody of the three kids, ages 8, 11, and 12, with Parnell, had accused Parnell of abusive behavior and claimed his work schedule was not conducive to meeting his current custody obligations in a case presented earlier this month.

Jude James Arner awarded Snell sole legal custody and primary physical custody of the children and gave Parnell partial physical custody, according to public court records.

The ruling comes after a string of heated court hearings in which Snell accused Parnell of once striking one of their children on the back and once punching a door that hit another of their children in the head. Snell also accused Parnell of choking her until she had to bite him for him to stop.

Parnell denied all accusations of physical abuse, and his current partner and their children’s longtime nanny both reinforced his denial in their own testimonies in which they praised Parnell’s parenting abilities and rejected any notion that he had or would physically harm his kids.

The ruling is a blow to Parnell’s campaign after the Republican saw momentum coming off of a competitive first-time bid for office against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in 2020 and picking up a coveted endorsement for his Senate race from former President Donald Trump in September. Parnell’s Republican opponents latched on to the messy divorce proceedings, and specifically to two “protection from abuse” orders his wife filed in 2017 and 2018 that were both dropped and later expunged, as a means to attack the candidate as “unelectable.”

Parnell’s campaign has not commented publicly on the ruling at the time of this writing.

This story is developing.

Write to Ashley Oliver at


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