The wife of U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) filed for divorce yesterday, one day after she called police to the couple's Alexandria home and told them that her husband had grabbed her and pushed her during an argument.
But Mary Moran said in an interview that she agrees with the decision of Alexandria authorities not to file charges against her husband. She also said it was the first such altercation in their 11-year marriage.
"Jim grabbed me by the upper arms and pushed me down to the bed," Mary Moran said. "I'm not a victim of anything. I just want out."
The congressman's office issued a statement yesterday saying that he would not respond to his wife's allegations because doing so "would require him to make negative comments about the mother of his children, and he's unwilling to do that right now." The statement cited police investigators' conclusion that no crime occurred.
In a second statement issued later in the day, Moran's office said he plans to file for a divorce, "based on yesterday's incident, and similar incidents over the previous year."
"He is taking this action in the interest of his children, and we hope the Morans' privacy will be respected during this time," the statement said.
Sources familiar with Wednesday's incident said the congressman told police that he did not push his wife and that he grabbed her to restrain her as she was coming toward him.
Alexandria police said they were called to the Morans' home at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday. After hearing their conflicting versions of what had happened, the police officer at the scene did not believe there was cause to make an arrest, Police Chief Charles E. Samarra said.
"This was a clear case of he said-she said," Samarra said. He said there was no evidence identifying the "primary aggressor" in the incident, as required by Virginia's domestic violence law.
Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel said police consulted by telephone with Alexandria Chief Magistrate Arthur Gottwald, who told them there was not cause to issue an arrest warrant.
Mary Moran said she suffered bruises on her arms that were not visible until yesterday. She said police investigators took photos of the bruises yesterday, but she added that she does not intend to pursue any criminal complaint.
Lt. John Crawford, an Alexandria police spokesman, said that "follow-up investigation by police has not changed the complexion of the case today," declining to elaborate.
Samarra and Sengel said that authorities followed "standard procedure" in investigating Moran, a former city mayor whose brother is an Alexandria state delegate.
In her divorce petition filed in Alexandria Circuit Court, Mary Moran alleges that James Moran engaged in conduct "detrimental to [her] health and welfare." The petition does not mention Wednesday's argument or make any allegations of domestic abuse. She is seeking custody of their two children, ages 9 and 7.
"It's been a volatile marriage, with yelling, threats, but there's never been anything physical," Mary Moran said in yesterday's interview. "Jim and I are both volatile. We both have bad tempers."
She said she called 911 during their argument on Wednesday because she feared it might escalate. She said that police "did an excellent job" of handling the matter and that she is glad no arrest was made.
"I am tired of being a congressional wife," Mary Moran said. "I want my children. I want my life back." At the same time, she said she believes her husband is a "great congressman," adding, "I mean, do you know anyone who doesn't love him?"
Friends of the Morans said the couple's relationship had become increasingly troubled in recent months. Mary Moran, 44, had moved into the couple's summer home in King George County, Va., in April but had recently returned to their Alexandria house and taken a job as an agent at an Alexandria real estate firm.
James Moran, 54, whose district includes Alexandria, Arlington County and part of Fairfax County, was reelected to his fifth term in November with 67 percent of the vote.
Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, said that although any allegation of domestic violence is a public issue, "given that this is not someone who's saying she has been a battered spouse, it may be less relevant to Moran's public office."
CAPTION: "I'm not a victim of anything. I just want out," said Mary Moran in an interview. She has filed for divorce from U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr.