Allegations of domestic violence have arisen on both sides of a pending divorce case involving New Orleans Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens, a candidate for Criminal District Court judge, and his wife of 31 years, Ann Sens.
The claims from Ann Sens came in a legal filing in Civil District Court this week, less than three weeks before the Nov. 4 election.
In his campaign for the vacant Section G seat at Criminal Court, Paul Sens, 58, has highlighted “a very sophisticated program for domestic violence” that he helped develop during his 17 years on the Municipal Court bench.
The legal filings in the divorce case suggest a marriage marred lately by scuffles resulting in minor injuries, with conflicting accounts over who was at fault.
A day after she filed for divorce on May 1, Ann Sens, who turns 56 on Sunday, called 911 for the first time, reporting an incident at the couple’s Lakeview home in the 7000 block of Gen. Haig Street.
Police booked Ann Sens on counts of domestic abuse battery and public intimidation, reporting that she had come home drunk and started swinging at her husband, who then “attempted to push his wife off him to defend himself.” She bit him on his right arm, police said.
Last month, in a divorce filing, Paul Sens claimed that his wife of 31 years “has physically abused (him) on a number of occasions,” including the May 2 incident.
Earlier, Ann Sens “beat petitioner, kicked petitioner and kicked him in the testicles,” the filing states. In another incident, she allegedly bit him.
Ann Sens responded this week by listing three instances this year in which she claims her husband abused her.
“On March 16, 2014, in the couple’s bedroom after a day of drinking, Paul N. Sens backhanded Ann with his right hand to the side of her face causing a painful scrape across her cheek,” the filing states. “On April 20, 2014, Paul N. Sens threw Ann down on the ground after an argument, leaving her elbow and hand severely bruised and hurting for several weeks.”
And on May 2, the day she dialed 911, she claims he “slapped her hard across the face with an open right hand against the left side of her face resulting in severe pain in the left side of her jaw.”
That was the only one of the three alleged attacks on her in which Ann Sens called police. Paul Sens was not booked in any of the incidents.
On Friday, he said ethics rules governing judges bar him from commenting on the specific allegations. However, he said, “I have never put my hands on a woman in anger.”
His attorney, Theon Wilson, did not return a message Friday.
Ann Sens’ divorce attorney, Michael Conroy, referred questions to her criminal attorney, Robert Toale. He declined to discuss the case.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who has endorsed Sens over former state and federal prosecutor Byron C. Williams in the Section G race, has recused his office in the criminal case stemming from Ann Sens’ arrest in May.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office is still reviewing that case, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Ann Sens, a real estate salesperson, posted $1,000 bail shortly after her arrest.
Her hiring as an appraiser for Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office was the focus of criticism in 2012 from Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux’s office, as was Paul Sens’ hiring of Gusman’s wife, Renee, to run a program for low-level drug offenders.
Paul Sens has said the two spousal hires were done independently, without regard for a long-standing friendship between Paul Sens and Gusman.
Local attorney Pat Fanning, a friend of Paul Sens, said the judge didn’t want police to book his wife in the May 2 incident and begged officers not to arrest her.
According to the police report from May, Ann Sens showed no signs of injury, while Paul Sens refused treatment for bruises and minor cuts.
Ann Sens threatened the officers and said she planned to call the news media, police reported.
“If I’m going down, all of y’all are going down,” she reportedly said.
Ann Sens declined to talk to a reporter Friday. No new date has been set in the criminal case against her.
An earlier version of this story misstated Ann Sens’ job description.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.