U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, announced Friday that he has broken off his engagement to Argentine fiancee Maria Belen Chapur, saying on Facebook that he was forced to end the relationship because his ex-wife had filed a new legal complaint against him.
The post came days after Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, lobbed a new round of legal troubles at the former governor. Her latest legal complaint, filed Aug. 28, demanded Sanford undergo anger management and sought to modify the couple’s existing custody arrangement.
Sanford also said he had decided to hire a lawyer to defend him in the dispute. Prior to the latest legal filing, he said, he had not sought outside legal counsel in his dealings with his ex-wife despite their high-profile, heated split.
“Maybe there will be another chapter (with Chapur) when waters calm with Jenny, but at this point the environment is not conducive to building anything given no one would want to be caught in the middle of what’s now happening,” Sanford wrote.
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Calls to Sanford were not answered.
Jenny Sanford’s attorney Friday evening accused the congressman of trying to silence his former wife.
“My client has always put their children first and will always stand up for the boys’ best interests and safety,” attorney Marie-Louise Ramsdale said in a statement.
“Mr. Sanford’s Facebook post directly contradicts his filing in court today (before he posted on Facebook) wherein he requested a gag order regarding this case for, as he stated, `the protection of our sons.’ Apparently, he only wants a gag order after he has publicly laid out his position and disparaged my client – what he claimed she would do to him.”
Along with demands for anger management, Jenny Sanford’s latest complaint seeks to change the terms under which the congressman can see his youngest son, now 16.
In her complaint, Jenny Sanford asked that no illegal drugs or excessive alcohol be consumed during the son’s visit with either parent, and that he not be subjected “overnight to a member of the opposite sex not related to the Plaintiff or Defendant through blood or marriage who could reasonably be construed as a paramour.”
Sanford said the concerns expressed in the suit were unfounded and designed to create a media sensation.
“Let’s recognize the degree to which what’s being done seems designed to embarrass me rather than change anything,” Sanford wrote.
Sanford also questioned the basis for his wife’s new custody demands, saying there was no visitation arrangement between the couple to change.
“Jenny’s attorney’s newest summons asks that the visitation schedule be changed to limit my visitation with our youngest son, Blake. The question is how do you change what does not exist? There is no visitation schedule. She has full custody,” he continued in the post.
He denied the implication that he had ever consumed illegal drugs and indulged in excessive drinking around his youngest son, and said his older sons had only spent the night under the same roof as his fiancee once. “Jenny herself certainly has not lived up to this clause,” he added.
In the post, Sanford tied his current struggles to his Christian faith and said he is trying to handle his situation in the manner he believes Christ would have.
Sanford largely had refrained from addressing his personal life after his stunning fall from political grace in 2009, when he famously disappeared from the governor’s office for six days. He returned and admitted he had been courting Chapur, and his marriage ended not long after.
The melodrama of the breakup of his marriage has followed Sanford since the couple officially divorced in 2010. Prior to the August filing, he was accused by his ex-wife last year with violating his divorce terms by entering her home. He later said he had done so to watch the Super Bowl with his then 14-year-old son.
Sanford re-emerged in 2013 to win a vacant House seat after then-U.S. Rep. Tim Scott was tapped to fill departing Sen. Jim DeMint’s place.
Sanford is scheduled to appear Monday in Charleston family court for the first hearing into Jenny Sanford’s latest complaint. However, two sources close to the case said that hearing would be postponed.