South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford had her day in court on Friday, and mostly used it to try and protect her children from further media scrutiny. A judge said she would approve Sanford’s request for divorce on the grounds of adultery and that the divorce would take effect in mid-March.
During a 20-minute hearing before family court Judge Jocelyn Cate, Sanford testified that her husband, Governor Mark Sanford, kept asking for permission to see his mistress well after the affair was discovered. Last summer Gov. Sanford disappeared for five days, telling staffers he was planning to hike the Appalachian Trail. Upon his return he confessed to having been in Argentina to visit his mistress, Maria Belen Chapur, whom he called his soulmate.
Mrs. Sanford testified that she first learned of the affair last January when she found a letter from Gov. Sanford to a woman he believed to be his “eternal love.” After confronting her husband she made him promise to end the affair and the two entered counseling.
According to his wife’s testimony Sanford did not abide by the main criteria of their reconciliation, that he not contact Chapur beyond a single dinner that she allowed him to attend with a chaperon. She said her husband repeatedly asked for permission to see his lover, ultimately leading her to move to the couple’s beachfront home on Sullivan’s Island.
The Sanfords were married on November 4, 1989, and have four sons between the ages of 11 and 17. Mrs. Sanford said her central reason for divorce was the desire to protect her children.
“This whole endeavor I’ve done my best to try and keep it from becoming public. It became public in a high-media-focused-type of fashion in June and since then I’ve done my best to protect my children,” Sanford said.
Sanford recently published a book that include a number of telling incidents involving her husband, including his re-working of their wedding ceremony to eliminate the promise to be faithful.
“I didn’t put anything in the book that my children weren’t already aware of,” she said on the stand.
The governor did not appear at a hearing but sent a reply asking the judge to approve his wife’s request for a divorce. The couple’s divorce agreement was sealed.
“[The children] didn’t deserve what happened to them a year ago,” Sanford testified. “Their whole world’s been turned upside-down and more information for the kids at school to talk about is just not necessary at this point.”
Below is a clip of her testimony from the Charlotte Observer: