US House candidate Anthony Bouchard had impregnated a 14-year-old girl he was into a relationship with when he was 18, according to a report on late Thursday. Later, Bouchard married the girl when she turned 15, according to a DailyMail, report. Hours after the revelation, Bouchard put up a video on Facebook admitting about the relationship and blaming the media for the disclosure.
Bouchard, a Wyoming Republican state senator who filed his candidacy to replace controversial U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney and already raised $400,000, did not specify the girl's age in the video. However, he said he went public with the information so that he could get ahead of the story after learning that people were investigating it in opposition to his candidacy.
Soon after the news broke out, Bouchard took to Facebook and did a live video and admitted of the alleged relationship. He described it as a typical teenage but later confirmed the girl's age to the Casper Star-Tribune. His former wife's was identified as Frances Lynn Webb.
"So, bottom line, it's a story when I was young, two teenagers, girl gets pregnant," he said in the video. "You've heard those stories before. She was a little younger than me, so it's like the Romeo and Juliet story."
Bouchard married the girl when she was 15 and he was 19, when both were living in Florida. They divorced three years later, he told the outlet. Bouchard's ex-wife later died by suicide when she was 20, he said. Online records list a woman with her name as being buried at a Jacksonville, Florida, cemetery in 1990. The woman's name hasn't been identified.
That said, Bouchard also claimed that there was too much pressure from different corners and he finally decided to marry the girl to put an end to all the problems.
"'A lot of pressure - pressure to abort a baby, I got to tell you. I wasn't going to do it, and neither was she. There was pressure to have her banished from their family. Just pressure. Pressure to go hide somewhere, and the only thing I could see as the right thing to do was to get married and take care of him."
Bouchard and the girl were able to legally marry because Florida at the time allowed marriage at any age with a judge's approval if a pregnancy was involved and a parent consented.
Not the Ideal Child
However, Bouchard marrying the pregnant girl, fathering a child and then divorcing the woman is just only half the story. The child they had, Tony Raymond Bouchard Jr., 36, is currently awaiting trial in California on five sex-related felony charges involving a 51-year-old woman.
The charges include sodomy by use of force, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by foreign object and false imprisonment. However, the victim's name hasn't been disclosed because of the nature of the allegations. As he awaits a trial in the agricultural Tulare County, northeast of Bakersfield, that could take place later this year, the younger Bouchard was also charged with felony assault in connection with the incident.
Bouchard didn't respond after the outlet approached him to know more about his son although he said in the video that he continued to raise the child for sometime after the couple's divorce.
"Sadly, he's made some wrong choices in his life," Bouchard said. "He's almost become my estranged son. Some of the things that he's got going on his life, I certainly don't approve of them. But I'm not going to abandon him. I still love him. Just like when he was born."
Bouchard, a gun rights activist who co-owns a septic system servicing business with his wife, said the disclosure wouldn't stop him from seeking higher office. "Bring it on. I'm going to stay in this race," he said.
"We're going to continue to raise money because my record stands on its own." According to the DailyMail, a Republican operative who spoke on conditions of anonymity said the story of Bouchard's first marriage to Frances Lynn Webb in September 1984 in Jacksonville, Florida, and his son's arrest are known behind the political scenes in Wyoming.
The Republican operative added that while Bouchard is a front-runner in a primary for Cheney's job that could include five contenders, he is also the most flawed. "We want this to be known about him because we need to clean the field. Five other candidates in the primary are going to split the vote in a small place like Wyoming, and Cheney is going to waltz in again," he said.
Bouchard also told the Casper Star-Tribune that he didn't think Cheney was involved in the disclosure. Also, Cheney's spokesman Jeremy Adler denied any involvement.