In his first public statements since he was accused of pressuring a woman with whom he’d had an affair into getting an abortion, U.S. Congressional Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) claimed that the woman turned out not to be pregnant.
According to the Associated Press, DesJarlais did not dispute the contents of a transcribed phone call wherein he could be heard agreeing to accompany the woman to the procedure, but, he told WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol, in the end, there was no abortion.
“I don’t mind telling people that there was no pregnancy, and no abortion,” he said in an interview. “But I also don’t mind telling people that this was a protracted two-year divorce back in 1999 and 2000. There was some difficult times, for sure.”
The phone call transcript came to light in papers pertaining to the divorce in 2001 of DesJarlais, a former physician, and his then-wife, after the congressman admitted to affairs with at least four women. The woman in the phone recording was a former patient. The date of the call is unclear, but according to the transcript, DesJarlais can be heard admonishing the woman for not having taken steps to terminate her pregnancy.
“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” he said. “If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it.”
He also seemed to blame the woman for becoming pregnant, saying, “You lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that’s not my fault, that’s yours.”
“Well, it’s your fault for sleeping with your patient,” she replied.
DesJarlais’s campaign called the charges “old news,” and blamed “a disgruntled, defeated ex-congressman, a vindictive ex-wife, and a desperate Democratic candidate” for bringing up the story.
In 2010, allegations surfaced that the congressman threatened his ex-wife with a gun, and once spent three hours with a gun in his own mouth threatening suicide during a marital dispute. At first DesJarlais denied these allegations citing the lack of a police report. However, an off-duty officer who responded to the scene had filed a report, forcing the congressman to admit that he’d lied.
DesJarlais told the Nashville Scene, “I felt like I was being set up,” because the officer knew his ex-wife. “This is like ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ when the officer breaks out someone’s light and then writes him a ticket.’”
The abortion allegations, however, are new.
DesJarlais remarried in 2002 and claims that his current marriage is much more idyllic.
“I would hope that when the voters judge me, they judge me on the marriage I have now,” he said.
He is running against Democratic challenger state Sen. Eric Stewart.