WASHINGTON -- The anti-abortion, pro-family Tennessee congressman who pushed his patient and mistress to get an abortion also agreed that his wife should have two, according to court transcripts released Thursday.
Those documents, from GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais' 2000 divorce proceedings, paint a lurid picture of a doctor who had multiple affairs with coworkers and patients -- at least one of whom he prescribed pain pills for -- while he was chief of staff at a local hospital.
The Huffington Post first reported that DesJarlais pressured one of his patients to abort a pregnancy that she said came from their flings. The doctor calls the 24-year-old a "psycho" in the transcript of his testimony. DesJarlais won reelection last week, even after reports surfaced that he had sex with other patients, and that he prescribed them pills. DesJarlais admitted the HuffPost report, but challenged the credibility of the later case.
It turns out it was all true, as well as reports that he denied during his 2010 campaign that he stuck a gun in his mouth for more than two hours, and threatened suicide after it became apparent he could not repair his marriage with his then-wife, Susan.
Although DesJarlais called the 2010 reports "all false", he testified under oath they were true.
"It's very embarrassing to talk about. I know better than this," DesJarlais said at the time. His wife also accused him of dry-firing the gun outside her bedroom, although DesJarlais testified he had only been spinning the empty chamber of a revolver.
"I deal with people in the hospital that do this," DesJarlais said. "Suicide threats is [sic] probably the most immature form of attention-seeking behavior that there is and I resorted to that on this evening and I regret it, I regret that she felt threatened by it, and I'm very ashamed of it."
The gun incident was in September 2000, the same week that DesJarlais admitted to his wife that his patient might be pregnant. The couple's marriage had been on the rocks since 1998, when she accused him of breaking their vows. He had been trying to reconcile when his doctor-patient relationship became a problem.
DesJarlais said he suspected at the time that the woman was not pregnant, and he and his wife decided to record the phone call. HuffPost obtained the transcript of that call in October. It is unclear if the woman ever got an abortion. She testified that she was pregnant, but declined to say how the pregnancy ended.
In the wake of the revelations, DesJarlais insisted that he was anti-abortion. But the news that his wife had two abortions -- one for medical reasons and another because the couple agreed a child was not a good idea -- could call into question the sincerity of DesJarlais' position.
"Things were not going well between us and it was a mutual decision," DesJarlais said of the elective abortion. "I don't think that it was easy for either one of us. I think it was a very difficult and poor choice and I think that there are probably regrets both ways."
Several prominent local Republicans have been mentioned as potential primary challengers in the next election, if DesJarlais decides to remain in Congress. DesJarlais' office had no immediate comment on the document.
Whether or not he should resign is likely to become a pressing question. House Speaker John Boehner's did not answer a request for comment. Aside from the new details, which DesJarlais has said are merely part of his messy breakup -- the congressman is facing a probe by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, and some of his explanations and denials are apparently lies, based on his own testimony.
Aside from denying the gun incident, DesJarlais also argued that the tape recording was made without his knowledge.
And his admissions that he had sex with other patients, including the woman who got Darvocet from him, are likely to raise the stakes in the medical board's probe. Tennessee law deems any sex between doctors and patients to be serious medical misconduct. Penalties range from reprimands to license suspension.
It's not clear what the fallout from sex with workers at the hospital would be, but DesJarlais admits to that as well. In one case, he hooked up with a technician at the hospital Christmas party in 1999, then took her home with him. Among other details, Desjarlais kept photos of himself with one of his patient-sex partners, which his wife later found during their reconciliation.
She also acknowledges she strayed in the relationship. DesJarlais has since remarried, and used his family man, doctor image in most of his campaign literature.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.
Also on HuffPost:
David Wu's Alleged Teen Encounter
On July 26, Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/26/david-wu-resigns-sex-scandal_n_909734.html" target="_hplink">announced</a> that he would step down pending the conclusion of ongoing negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. Wu, who had fielded <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/house/should-david-wu-resign.html" target="_hplink">prior criticism</a> for erratic behavior in the run up to his successful 2010 reelection -- he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/23/oregon-newspapers-gop-david-wu-resign_n_827462.html" target="_hplink">emailed staffers</a> a picture showing him wearing a tiger costume -- is currently facing allegations that he engaged in an unwanted sexual encounter with an 18-year-old. Wu has claimed the action was consensual.
Anthony Weiner's Online Romance
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was forced to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/16/anthony-weiner-resigns_n_878229.html" target="_hplink">resign</a> following a lengthy media investigation triggered after he accidentally sent his Twitter followers a picture of himself in his underwear. In the aftermath of the initial tweet, Weiner <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/31/anthony-weiner-twitter_n_869008.html" target="_hplink">claimed</a> that his account had been hacked, but subsequent developments showed that he had contacted a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/16/anthony-weiner-photos-women_n_878211.html" target="_hplink">number of other women</a> online, at times engaging in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/07/anthony-weiner-facebook-chats_n_872783.html" target="_hplink">raunchy conversation</a>.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mistress
Revelations surfaced earlier this year that the former California governor and movie star had <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/18/arnold-schwarzeneggermild_n_863882.html" target="_hplink">fathered a child</a> with his maid during an affair that took place during the 1990s. The child is now in his teens. In a statement to the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-me-0517-arnold-20110517,0,312678.story" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a> in May, Schwarzenegger confessed to the relationship: <blockquote>"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger said Monday night in a statement issued to <em>The Times</em> in response to questions. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."</blockquote>
Eric Massa's Tickling
Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/05/eric-massa-resigning-new_n_487870.html" target="_hplink">resigned</a> in 2010 following <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/03/eric-massa-to-retire-new_n_484288.html" target="_hplink">mounting questions</a> about his conduct that culminated in a House ethics investigation of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/04/eric-massa-house-ethics-p_n_486424.html" target="_hplink">harassment allegations</a> brought forth by a male aide. Shortly after stepping down, Massa <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/09/eric-massa-and-glenn-beck_n_492441.html" target="_hplink">appeared</a> on Glenn Beck's television show and described part of an incident that had triggered the charges. "Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe," he said. "I should have never allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was... I own this misbehavior."
Chris Lee's Craigslist Follies
Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) took part in perhaps the shortest Washington scandal of all time earlier this year, when a <a href="http://gawker.com/#!5755071/married-gop-congressman-sent-sexy-pictures-to-craigslist-babe" target="_hplink">report</a> that he had sent shirtless pictures to a woman he contacted on Craigslist prompted his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/09/chris-lee-resigns-after-c_n_821080.html" target="_hplink">resignation</a> mere hours later.
John Ensign Has Affair With Aide's Wife
In June 2009, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) admitted to having an affair with the wife of a close friend and top aide. In April of this year, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/21/john-ensign-resigns-reports_n_852285.html" target="_hplink">announced</a> that he was resigning amid a high-profile ethics probe.
Jack Ryan Taking Jeri Ryan To Sex Clubs
According to custody records, 2004 Illinois Republican Senate hopeful Jack Ryan brought his wife -- actress Jeri Ryan -- to sex clubs in various cities with the intent of having sex in public. Ryan was forced to drop out of the race amid the scandal that flared afterward.
Mark Sanford's Secret Trip To Buenos Aires
When Governor Mark Sanford (R- S.C.) went missing for a few days in June 2009 he said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He later confessed he was actually in Argentina visiting his "soul mate." He and his wife have since gotten divorced.
John Edwards And Rielle Hunter
In August 2008, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) finally confessed that he'd had an affair with a former campaign worker after being exposed by the <i>National Enquirer</i>. He met Rielle Hunter, his future campaign videographer, in a bar. Edwards <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/21/john-edwards-admits-pater_n_431006.html" target="_hplink">admitted</a> fathering the child in early 2010.
Eliot Spitzer Client Number 9
In March 2008, a federal investigation revealed that Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.) had habitually patronized a high-priced prostitution agency, spending up to $80,000 on the service.
Larry Craig Toe-Tapping In Airport Bathroom
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June 2007 for lewd conduct following an unusual interaction with another man in a bathroom stall at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Craig did not resign immediately, but he did not run again.
Mark Foley Sends Sex Messages To Underage Pages
In September 2006, then chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was forced to resign amid a scandal involving sexual IM and email conversations with male pages. Foley has since admitted that he is gay.
David Vitter Caught With Prostitutes
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) was exposed as a former client of the "DC Madam" prostitution ring in 2007. She even called him during votes. The conservative senator was reportedly also a regular at a New Orleans brothel. Vitter ran for reelection and won in 2010.
Tim Mahoney Paid Off Mistress Staffer
In October 2008, it was reported that Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) had paid a former staffer-turned-mistress $121,000 to keep her from filing a lawsuit. Mahoney later admitted to having more extramarital affairs.
Vito Fosella Bailed Out From DUI By Mistress
In May 2008, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) was arrested for drunk driving, taken to jail, and bailed out by his mistress. After conflicting stories and poorly constructed lies, he finally admitted that he had been engaged in an affair with the woman and was the father of her 3-year old child.
Don Sherwood Accused Of Choking Mistress
In 2005, opponents of Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) released a D.C. police report from 2004 alleging that Sherwood had choked his mistress. The release of the report forced Sherwood to admit to a five-year affair with the woman.
Gary Condit And Murdered Intern Chandra Levy
After congressional intern Chandra Levy went missing in May 2001, Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) became the center of a scandal that led to his admitting an affair with Levy. In 2009, Levy's murderer was determined to be a man already in prison for other murders.