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Tenn. GOP congressman's ex-wife had 2 abortions

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012

While on the stand, DesJarlais testified that he had sexual affairs with eight different women during 1999 and 2000 while his divorce was pending. For some of the time, he was attempting to reconcile with his estranged wife, who also admitted to having sexual relations with multiple men during the same time.

As late as the day before the election, DesJarlais attorney Harvey Cameron angrily disputed Democrats' assertions that the congressman had relationships with eight women.

"I can assure you it's not in the transcript, according to the depositions at least," he told reporters after court hearings in Chattanooga that resulted in partial release of the transcript being blocked.

DesJarlais' volatile first marriage was also a focal point of his first successful bid for office when he defeated Democratic incumbent Lincoln Davis in 2010. Davis ran TV ads that cited court records to allege DesJarlais once held a gun in his mouth for three hours and that he repeatedly pulled the trigger of an unloaded gun outside a room where his wife had locked herself in.

Susan DesJarlais said her then-husband had held the gun in his mouth in response to finding out that his mistress had become pregnant.

"He stuck a gun in his mouth and almost killed himself," she testified. "You don't think that he was upset?"

DesJarlais explained in court proceedings that he wasn't considering killing himself.

"It was never a loaded gun. It was never a suicide attempt," he said. "It was an attention-seeking act."

He also denied that he dry-fired a revolver outside the locked room.

"I opened the gun up. It is a revolver. And when you open it and turn it, it clicks. I wanted to make sure it was not loaded and it was not loaded," he said. "I'm assuming that was the sound she heard."

During the campaign Republican officials largely kept their distance from DesJarlais, declining to weigh in on the allegations. The congressman himself disappeared from the campaign trail, though he ran a barrage of television ads linking his Democratic opponent to President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters before the release of the transcripts Thursday that voters in the deeply conservative district may have chosen to bide their time until a Republican challenger emerges.

"There are some that voted thinking next time there'll be somebody else in the primary — we don't want Pelosi to be speaker, so one more time we'll vote for Scott," he said. "He'll have a primary opponent. I mean, he knows that."