PRINCE FREDERICK – In an increasingly acrimonious divorce, a Calvert County judge Wednesday gave U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn, D-Largo, increased time with his daughter and admonished the congressman and his estranged wife not to disparage each other in public.
Wynn charged in court that Jessie Wynn, his estranged wife, violated a court order by making allegations in campaign advertisements for his opponent, Republican John B. Kimble, that hurt his 6-year-old daughter.
The congressman asked Circuit Judge Marjorie L. Clagett to expedite custody proceedings, charging that his wife was behind radio ads, Web site recordings, pamphlets and banners calling him a drug and alcohol user and a child abuser.
After the couple separated, Jessie Wynn became chairman of Kimble’s campaign against the four-term Democrat, who handily defeated Kimble in 1996 and 1998.
In a recorded message on Kimble’s Web site recently, Jessie Wynn announced Wednesday’s court date and stated that “. . . I’m in fear of my life. My husband told our daughter that he was going to kill me.”
Earlier in the campaign she taped radio commercials charging that her husband “left me for a white woman.”
Wynn argued in court that his daughter saw a derogatory Kimble banner while attending a crab feast with her father.
The judge did not specifically order Jessie Wynn to stop publicly airing issues in the divorce case, but admonished both parents to refrain from demeaning each other in the presence of their daughter. Clagett said an order she issued in August was intended to “shield (the daughter) from negativity, anger and hostility.”
Under questioning by Clagett, Jessie Wynn said she didn’t violate the order.
The judge also decided a custody issue, expanding Rep. Wynn’s custody time to equal that of his estranged wife’s and ordering that the child be given counseling to deal with the contentious divorce.
Both parents were ordered to attend counseling if asked to by a mutually- chosen therapist. The judge granted Jessie Wynn’s motion to hold off a final decision on custody until a doctor had completed his findings on what is best for the child.
“The court clearly repudiated some of the wild accusations that Mr. Kimble has been making against my character, indicating the court felt there are absolutely no problems with my parenting,” Wynn said after the hearing.
Jessie Wynn would not comment on the hearing, but her attorney Stephen Armstrong said none of the campaign messages reached their daughter. Of the Web site advertisement, Armstrong said neither the mother nor child has access to the Internet.
Wynn’s attorney, Allen Kruger, acknowledged the judge did not order Jessie Wynn’s silence, but indicated her language may have been inappropriate.
“I think the message the judge tried to send is, `Your daughter deserves better and it’s time you stopped putting (her) in the middle of this,'” he said.
The campaign between Republican Kimble and Wynn has been so bitter that Wynn refused to attend a televised debate this week on Maryland Public Television. Wynn said he has no plans to debate Kimble before the election.
– 30 – CNS-10-18-00