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PFA order says congressional hopeful Shannon Edwards threatened to kill husband

Wes Venteicher
| Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, 6:27 p.m.
Shannon Edwards
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Shannon Edwards
Shannon Edwards
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Shannon Edwards

An Allegheny County judge granted a temporary restraining order in late 2016 against Shannon Edwards, who announced Wednesday she's running for Congress, after her husband accused her of drunkenly attacking him and threatening to kill him, court records show.

Edwards, 33, of Lawrenceville is a psychologist who reportedly had an affair with former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned in October.

Edwards announced her intention to campaign as a Republican for Congress on the steps of the Allegheny County Courthouse, a move that surprised GOP officials who said they weren't aware she was considering a run.

Edwards' husband, Jesse Sally, an osteopathic doctor specializing in sports medicine, has been seeking a divorce in a court case that is now sealed.

In a petition seeking a restraining order dated Oct. 31, 2016, Sally wrote that Edwards had arrived home about 10:30 p.m. after drinking alcohol with neighbors and grabbed his head and pushed it into a pillow.

He said he left the room and she followed him around the house. When he returned to the bedroom, she put her face “inches away” from his face and told him, “I'm going to kill you,” according to the petition, which said the two were living in the same house in Mt. Washington but sleeping in separate bedrooms.

She had made the threat on multiple occasions, and three months earlier told Sally she would kill him in his sleep with a steak knife, according to the petition.

“She then said she would just use a steak knife to the heart or hire a hit man,” he wrote.

“(Edwards) has come home drunk, climbed into bed with me and tried to make sexual advances,” he wrote. “When I told her to stop, she threatens me with a PFA (protection-from-abuse order).”

A judge granted a temporary protection-from-abuse order against Edwards on Nov. 1, 2016. The result of a hearing to make the PFA permanent was not available.

Edwards' attorney, Timothy Gricks, said in an email Thursday that since the case is sealed under a court order, Edwards “cannot and will not discuss these matters.”

Gricks argued for the case to be sealed Oct. 4 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Murphy, an anti-abortion Republican from Upper St. Clair, had asked Edwards in text messages about getting an abortion when he thought she might be pregnant. Murphy left office at the end of October.

Gricks also argued that Murphy shouldn't be deposed in the case, but Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco opted to proceed with the deposition.

Edwards attended the Oct. 4 court proceedings. At one point, she stepped out into the hallway with Gricks and Sally's attorney, Dorothy Wolbert, who were discussing a deposition date. After a few minutes, Wolbert re-entered the court room and asked for security, saying she had been attacked.

Edwards stood down the hall, visibly upset, when reporters walked out into the hall.

Wolbert declined comment at the time and didn't respond to a voicemail Thursday. Sally didn't respond to a voicemail left on a phone number listed for him in court documents.

Edwards' website says she is a forensic psychologist who specializes in “court-mandated psychology services for juveniles, adults, and families.”

She said in a campaign announcement that she would work to expand and improve mental health treatment.

If a new congressional district map imposed by the state Supreme Court survives a Republican legal challenge, she would be campaigning in a newly formed 18th District, where she could face incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills.

The district would encompass the city of Pittsburgh and dozens of surrounding suburbs — including Plum and Monroeville to the northeast, Clairton and Elizabeth to the south and Bethel Park and Bridgeville to the southwest.

A Western Pennsylvania native, Edwards earned her bachelor's degree from California University of Pennsylvania before moving away to finish her schooling and returning to Pittsburgh. She has a 7-year-old daughter.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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