published Friday, September 17th, 2010

DesJarlais divorce papers show abuse accusations

NASHVILLE — A Washington-based newspaper reported Thursday that the ex-wife of 4th Congressional District Republican candidate Scott DesJarlais accused him of harassment, intimidation and physical abuse during their divorce.

Roll Call, which covers Congress, said the accusations are contained in Marion County Chancery Court motions filed in 2000 and 2001 by Susan DesJarlais against her husband, a Jasper physician who is challenging U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn.

The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2001.

DesJarlais campaign manager Brent Leatherwood said in an e-mail to the Chattanooga Times Free Press that DesJarlais’ ex-wife’s charges were false and accused Davis, a four-term incumbent, of peddling the story to Washington reporters and engaging in “gutter” politics.

“Obviously, our poll numbers have Lincoln Davis running scared if he is dredging up one-sided accusations from a decade-old divorce that were shown to be untrue,” Leatherwood said. “The court ruled there was no validity to any of them. Period.”

He said that for Davis and his campaign “to sling this kind of mud shows how desperate they are.”

The Davis campaign did not respond to a Times Free Press request for comment about the matter.

Roll Call reported that, in one court motion, Susan DesJarlais claimed she was forced to leave the family’s residence when her husband’s behavior “became violent and threatening.”

The publication said she accused DesJarlais of “dry firing a gun outside the plaintiff’s locked bedroom door, admission of suicidal ideation, holding a gun in his mouth for three hours, an incident of physical intimidation at the hospital; and previous threatening behavior ... i.e. shoving, tripping, pushing down, etc.”

The term “dry firing” involves pulling the trigger on an unloaded gun.

Roll Call also reported that a 2001 follow-up order found Susan DesJarlais in contempt of court for verbally abusing and cursing Scott DesJarlais in the presence of their child.

In Roll Call, Davis campaign manager Justin Wallin was quoted as saying that Susan DesJarlais’ allegations against Scott DesJarlais “very serious and disturbing.”

“In the 4th Congressional district, people expect more than lip service about family values,” Wallin said.

Leatherwood said “there is an unwritten rule in politics that a person’s marriage is off limits. It’s always noteworthy when a politician breaks this rule, especially a politician like Lincoln Davis.”

The judge who granted the divorce in 2001 criticized the conduct of both the husband and wife, case records show.

“Frankly the conduct of both parties has been below what I think would be the standard you would want your child to have after you raised him to adulthood,” Chancery Court Judge Jeffrey Stewart said at one hearing, court records show.

Earlier this week, the DesJarlais campaign released results of a poll it commissioned showing DesJarlais and Davis are in a statistical dead heat with voters. Davis led by 45 percent to 41 percent. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.66 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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slr3 said...

I know and am familiar with both Scott & Susan and went to their wedding in South Dakota. I remember when their divorce was happening. Scott is a man of good character in my opinion & made the best of a bad situation during the divorce proceedings. The same can not be said of Susan. This has nothing to do with Scott's ability to represent taxpaying Tennesseeans in Washington and shows the desparation of Lincoln Davis- Obama's man. If you want a different type of "change" than Obama wanys for our country , vote for Scott. If you are satisfied with Obama's "change" vote for Davis. Simple as that!!

September 17, 2010 at 4:24 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Sir3, I am guessing Dejarlais is in your family or you are a paid shill. Besides the Doctor being a violent and crazy wife abuser, he brought a gun into the hospital while on suicide watch. This is insane. Allowing a crazy person to have a gun in a hospital should have brought criminal charges, but this is Tennessee. The only place left not to carry a gun is the Capitol and courtrooms guess the politicians know the dangers. We just saw what happens when an insane person brings a gun to a hospital it happened yesterday in Baltimore. No, I am not satisfied with Davis but to vote in a violent, arrogant and psychopathic doctor is an even poorer choice. Simple as that!

September 17, 2010 at 7:48 a.m.
easttnreader said...


You accuse Sir3 of being a member of the candidate’s family or a paid shill? Maybe you are the paid shill.

As you seem to know a lot of information, one could only assume that you witnessed the alleged conduct that you (and others) have referred to? Might I suggest it may be you that is arrogant!

Fact of the matter is allegations are made in all legal proceedings and the Court determines whether the allegations have merit- speaking through its Orders. If the Chancellor found the allegations to be true then and only then should the candidate be obligated to defend himself or subjected to attacks by you or others.

Since the Chancellor did not determine that there was a basis in fact for the allegations, the perpetuation of this non-story can be nothing more than a character assignation.

September 17, 2010 at 9 a.m.
slr3 said...

Dear sandionsignal- No , I am not a member of his family and haven't even seen or spoke to him in 6 years. Based on your comments, you appear to be happy with Obama's man Davis and the "change" they have brought to America. As I said- vote for Davis. At least I will be able to cancel your vote out!!

September 17, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

At least Rep. Lincoln Davis is stable over a "bats in the belfry" crazy man.

September 17, 2010 at 12:22 p.m.
aldowa said...

Talk about "bats in the belfry". Must really be Susan or a friend with an axe to grind. Get on with your life Sandyonsignal. It's been almost 10 years. Pathetic.

September 17, 2010 at 10:37 p.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Guess you think it is fine for someone to slap around their wife and then move on to run for office because time has passed. Hey, maybe your name is Chip Saltsman or maybe this is the prevailing attitude in the GOP.

Okay to beat your wife, they will get over it. No way. Takes a certain kind of bully to beat his wife.

September 18, 2010 at 1:03 p.m.
marshwill said...

I have known Dr. Desjarlais for 14 years and I can tell you that the "bats in the belfry" and the "violent, arrogant and psychopathic" terms used in previous posts are pure nonsense. As another poster noted, divorces do get messy and it is patently unfair and, in fact, stupid to base any conclusions on "allegations" made in those circumstances; false accusations and vastly blown out of proportion incidents in divorce cases are "the rule" and not anything unusual. Also, many people do and say things that are out of character for them during divorces. It is absurd to use those issues to attempt to prevent a fair assessment of this candidate for office...most likely simple attack politics. If anyone is concerned about those past issues, they should look at his current family relationship and the devotion they all have to each other as well as at the professionalism he has continued to show as a dedicated physician and valued member of the medical community in which he serves. They will find the current balance weighing heavily in favor of Dr. Desjarlais. Don't judge him by "accusations" made a decade ago.

September 25, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.
whatever said...

Yes, that sort of thing does happen in a lot of conflicts, I can see how it would be wise to avoid giving too much credence to such attacks.

September 25, 2010 at 10:24 a.m.
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