PFA Jeopardizes Parnell’s Senate Bid

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

Even Sealed, a PFA Is Forever

The light from a rising star in the Republican Party is faltering as allegations of domestic violence taint the reputation of Sean Parnell, a Pennsylvania candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Parnell's ex-wife Laurie Snell has made serious claims in a bitter custody battle over their three children. Making matters worse, Jeff Bartos, another senate candidate, has revealed the existence of two supposedly sealed temporary restraining orders against Parnell, known as temporary PFAs (Protection From Abuse).

He Said, She Said

A custody hearing is not a trial. The court's primary purpose is to rule in the best interests of the children. Snell has filed for sole custody of their school-age children. Separated for three years, the two parents had been sharing joint custody equally. Snell has claimed in court variously that Parnell choked her, was verbally abusive, and that he hit one child and caused injury to another.

A decorated Afghanistan war veteran, Parnell has vehemently denied Snell's claims and produced evidence that Snell has said he is a good father. A former Army Ranger, Parnell suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Afghanistan and came home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As of November 17, 2021, the judge has not yet made a ruling in the custody dispute.

Two Civil PFAs Exposed

As if the bitter custody fight were not politically damaging enough, political rival Bartos dug deep into Parnell's personal affairs. He found Snell had obtained two temporary PFAs against Parnell in 2017 and 2018.

In Pennsylvania, a temporary or emergency PFA is issued as a civil court order. However, any violation of the PFA or the imposition of a “permanent” (three years) PFA creates a permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged (entirely erased).

At the time, Parnell did the right thing. He did not violate either of the orders. While the details are unknown, the final-hearing officer dismissed both civil charges, thus relieving Parnell of a criminal record. Parnell again did the right thing. He got the records of the two civil PFAs sealed because expungement is not possible.

Sealed Records Are Vulnerable

When civil PFA records are sealed, they “enter a statewide database or registry to which only court and law enforcement personnel are supposed [emphasis added] to have access,” said the defense attorneys at the LLF Law Firm.

Sealed records are hidden from the background checks done by employers, schools, creditors, and the general public; nevertheless, “with a little more effort than the usual background check,” anyone, like an enterprising political operative, could break the seal.

Even though Parnell has only been accused, not convicted, of domestic violence, his front-runner status as a Senate candidate is waning. Moreover, he represents a risk to the Republican Party itself. That's how serious a PFA can be.

Don't Face a PFA Alone

If you or a loved one is served with a PFA, do not violate it—and call a Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney right away. The final hearing happens about ten days after the PFA is served. Evidence must be gathered, witnesses recruited, and defense arguments prepared. Your personal reputation and professional occupation are at stake. For experienced PFA legal representation, call the LLF Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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