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Rep. DesJarlais admitted to affairs with two patients during divorce trial

Things just got a whole lot worse for Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).

According to a new report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press the congressman, who is also a doctor, admitted to sexual relationships with multiple patients and co-workers during sworn testimony at his divorce trial and urged his now-ex-wife to get two abortions, despite campaigning for Congress as an antiabortion rights, family values candidate.

The paper obtained a transcript of his 2001 trial, in which DesJarlais cops to having "had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.," in the paper's words. The relationships with patients both occurred in 2000, when DesJarlais was married.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.). (Erik Schelzig -- Associated Press)

DesJarlais easily won reelection last week despite reports that he had sex with patients and urged one of them to get an abortion. The congressman hasn't directly responded to questions on the matter since then.

During the trial, DesJarlais said the first time he urged his ex-wife to get an abortion, it was because she was on medication on which she wasn't supposed to get pregnant. The second time, he said it was because "things were not going well between us and it was a mutual decision." Both abortions occurred before the couple was married in 1995.

DesJarlais did express regret about the second abortion, in particular.

“I don’t think that it was easy for either one of us,” DesJarlais said at the trial. “I think it was a very difficult and poor choice and I think that there are probably regrets both ways.”

DesJarlais didn't seem to pay much of a price for the revelations at the ballot box last week, winning reelection with just slightly less of the vote than he took in his first campaign in 2010. He defeated state Sen. Eric Stewart (D) 56 percent to 44 percent.

At the same time, DesJarlais's medical license could be in jeopardy, since doctors are prohibited from engaging in sexual relationships with patients. 

The transcript of the trial confirms earlier reporting that DesJarlais also prescribed drugs to one of the patients he was engaged in an affair with.

During the trial, DesJarlais disputed the idea that there was anything wrong with that.

"I don’t feel real obligated to respond to that. I think it’s ludicrous,” he said. “I’ve never been challenged or questioned in terms of my integrity before.”

Republican leaders have yet to weigh in on DesJarlais's problems.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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