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Robert Dornan and Wife Talk of Troubled Family Past

June 25, 1993

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The wife of conservative stalwart Rep. Robert K. Dornan said longtime allegations of spousal abuse were untrue and the accusations stemmed from her struggles with depression, alcohol and drug addiction.

″It was me, and I take full blame,″ Sallie Dornan said in a newspaper interview published Thursday.

Dornan, R-Calif., his wife, and family members said they decided to go public with their story in hopes of putting to rest rumors of their painful past as the 60-year-old congressman weighs a run for president or U.S. Senate.

Family members made themselves available for interviews and released private medical and police documents to the Los Angeles Times.

Many of Mrs. Dornan’s allegations were contained in divorce papers that were filed at four different times over the years. The couple has remained together and the divorce papers were always withdrawn.

Despite allegations of abuse contained in the divorce papers, Mrs. Dornan said, her husband never beat her. She said depression in combination with her addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs formed the major source of stress in their family relations.

Mrs. Dornan, 59, recently issued a written statement saying she perjured herself in court statements. ″Every word of every charge and hurtful allegation was totally false,″ Mrs. Dornan wrote.

She filed the four separate divorce actions from 1960 to 1976. The documents contain graphic descriptions of abuse. In 1961, Mrs. Dornan said her husband dragged her by her hair and displayed a revolver.

The family said that such violence never occurred.

″I’m glad it’s coming out in the open. It will put this to rest forever,″ said the couple’s oldest son, Robert Jr.

A doctor who had the family’s permission to be interviewed by the Times said Mrs. Dornan was still battling with her drug addiction.

The Dornans went public about their problems in anticipation of his possible quest for the presidency and a potential campaign against Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who’s up for re-election in 1994.

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