HONESDALE, Pa. (AP) — A judge dismissed a temporary protective order against a candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor on Friday after his attorneys attacked the motivation and credibility of the candidate's wife, who had testified he was verbally abusive and made threats.
Teddy Daniels claimed vindication after the ruling by President Judge Janine Edwards, telling reporters outside the Wayne County Courthouse, “Justice was served today. I just want to go home and see my son.”
Daniels, 47, is one of nine candidates seeking the GOP nomination in the state’s May 17 primary, running with the endorsement of a leading candidate for governor, Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano.
Daniels' wife, who had obtained a temporary protection-from-abuse order against Teddy Daniels last week, testified that Daniels was incensed because he believed her family was cooperating in an unflattering magazine story about him. He threatened to “put a bullet” in the head of one of the people he blamed, the woman testified. She said Daniels then told her: “And if I find out you're in on it, you're going down too.”
Daniels' lawyers pointed out the woman had not previously reported the alleged threat, either to police or in her application for a protective order. In court, they suggested she only sought the protective order because Daniels had previously threatened to leave her.
Daniels himself did not testify and did not call any witnesses.
“Our case was proven by cross examination of a witness who lied,” Daniels’ lawyer, Jen Gilliland Vanasdale, told reporters. “Obviously the court believed that, or the court would not have dismissed and denied the protection from abuse.”
Neither Daniels' wife nor her lawyer had any immediate comment after the court hearing. A phone message was left at the lawyer's office.
Daniels, who is running for the GOP nomination in this month’s primary, had been was ordered to stay away from his home and forbidden from having any contact with his wife. The temporary order had also given Daniels’ wife temporary custody of their child and forced Daniels to turn over his guns.
In a handwritten petition, the wife told a judge that Daniels, who is 6-foot-4 and 360 pounds (1.9 meters and 163 kilograms), is “always angry at me” and “continuously” curses at her, threatening to kick her and their son out of the house if he loses the campaign. The woman said he stalked her at work, “screaming at me, making me cry” and that his anger toward her has caused her to have panic attacks.
Last August, she said, Daniels grabbed her shirt, pulled her to his face and said, “Don’t you ever speak to me like that,” the petition said. He also threatened to kill the family dog and has made two previous attempts to take his own life, his wife said.
Daniels had claimed the allegations were unfounded and that he was the target of “political terrorism” meant to damage his campaign.
He said he was “swatted,” or targeted with bogus calls leading police to his home. Without offering evidence, he accused Rolling Stone magazine, which first published word of the April 26 protection-from-abuse order, of being “closely involved with a series of phone calls made to police from out-of-state in which false police reports were made against me at my home.” Rolling Stone has said it stands by its story.
Gilliland Vanasdale, Daniels' lawyer, said Friday an investigation is underway, declaring: “The people and players who were behind this political hit job and character assassination of Ted Daniels will have justice coming on another day.”
In court Friday, Daniels' wife said her husband grew increasingly agitated after police were called to the home for a wellness check on April 24. That's when she said he made the threat, getting in her face.
“I started to get really scared,” said the woman, who cried at times during her testimony. Noting the loaded guns he kept around the house, she added, “I felt threatened.”
She said she kept a personal journal in a safe deposit box at a bank because she feared Daniels would find it, read it and become angry. She said she wrote about times when Daniels was verbally abusive.
Daniels told reporters his wife had no reason to fear him, and he attacked political rivals who called for him to drop out of the race over the protection-from-abuse order.
“We have a constitution. And every single person who said that should never hold office in this country,” he said, repeating his contention that “justice was served today in a court of law.”
“Justice was not served!” a woman yelled from across the courthouse lawn, prompting Daniels to look in her direction.
Daniels is an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump. Daniels has said he — like Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate who has endorsed him — was outside the U.S. Capitol during the insurrectionist riot on Jan. 6, 2021.