Earlier today we brought you the unfortunate news that the winner of the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor in Illinois, Scott Lee Cohen, was arrested in 2005 for a vicious assault on his then-girlfriend. According to police reports, Cohen slammed the victim’s head against a wall and left “mild abrasions from [a] knife wound” on her neck and “minor scars on her hand from her trying to defend herself against the arrestee swinging the knife at her.”
If that wasn’t enough, also problematic for his political future is that his girlfriend was a prostitute, though he says he did not know it and only understood that she worked at a massage parlor.
But now it’s all been cleared up.
Today Cohen came forward to explain that, yes, the assault wasn’t a great moment. But, you’ve got to understand, that was back in 2005 when he was abusing steroids as his marriage fell apart.
That’s what Cohen and and his ex-wife explained as the two of them sat for media interviews today to beat back calls for him to step aside to spare the party the ignominy of finding out everything in his past.
“It was a short period of time, and it’s certainly not something that the people of Illinois need to be concerned with,” said Debra York-Cohen, describing the period of violent rages, philandering and abusive behavior that accompanied Cohen’s period of intravenous steroid use.
York-Cohen did stand by the claims from the couple’s divorce proceedings that Cohen had choked her. Cohen, for his part, did not deny the choking allegations but said he had no recollection of it and that in any case it happened before the couple was married.
In a prepared statement Cohen said …
“I have no intention of stepping down or stepping aside. When the facts come to light, after my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend speak, the people of Illinois can decide, and I will listen to them directly. I am asking my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and to talk with the media.
There are questions, and I will provide all answers honestly and openly. I only ask for time to do the interviews. 2005 was a difficult time in my life. I was going through a divorce, and I started running with a fast group. I was in a tumultuous relationship with the woman I was dating. We had a fight, but I never touched her. She called the police, however, she never came to court, and the charges were dismissed. I realized this relationship was not healthy, I ended it, and we parted amicably.”
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.