Hard right North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn and his wife Cristina are parting ways after less than a year of being married, citing a “mutual divorce“ due to “irreconcilable differences”.
Twenty-six-year-old Cawthorn called his time in office, “hectic and difficult”, and cited a complete change in lifestyle following his election victory as the reason for the divorce.
“When my wife Cristina and I were engaged, I was not a member of Congress … our victory was unprecedented, but overnight our lives changed,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s neither the pace nor the lifestyle we had planned for,” continued his statement.
Ms Bayardelle, who is a 28-year-old fitness model, admitted she did not “want to be married to someone changing the world,” in a statement to Fox46 on Wednesday, and said that "the shift into public life has been strenuous, and many aspects of the transition have been unexpected”.
Speaking about his campaign Mr Cawthorn said he felt “called to serve and we both agreed that I should run”.
The pair were legally married on 30 December, but a ceremony took place in Hendersonville, North Carolina, in April 2021, after Mr Cawthorn had become the youngest member of Congress, elected when he was only 25 years old, in November 2020.
Mr Cawthorn has regularly repeated falsehoods that the election had been stolen from former President Donald Trump. Mr Cawthorn also attended the “Stop the Steal” rally before the 6 January insurrection. He also allegedly offered acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse a job, and has pushed anti-vaccine messaging during the pandemic.
Mr Cawthorn was paralysed in a car crash at the age of 21. After his accident, he attended the Patrick Henry Community College. Some of his peers from the school have since accused him of sexual harassment, which he denies. Mr Cawthorn allegedly took women at the school on “fun rides”.
“His MO was to take vulnerable women out on these rides with him in the car, and to make advances,” his former classmate Caitlin Coulter told CNN. When Ms Coulter avoided questions about her sexual experiences during a ride with Mr Cawthorn, she claimed: ”He got really upset. And he whipped the car around and started going back to campus at 70-80 miles an hour on these one-lane roads. It was really scary.”
Katrina Krulikas said Mr Cawthorn tried to kiss her without consent. “I definitely would classify it as sexual assault because he knew I said no,” she told the Post.
Some 150 students from Patrick Henry Community College released a letter in October 2020 before his election about his alleged actions, what they referred to as “gross misconduct towards our female peers”.
Mr Cawthorn said in September 2020, “I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life,” and explained: “If I have a daughter, I want her to grow up in a world where people know to explicitly ask before touching her. If I had a son, I want him to be able to grow up in a world where he would not be called a sexual predator for trying to kiss someone,” he added.
The Independent has contacted Mr Cawthorn for further comment.