CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, a Republican trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney next year, disclosed that he impregnated a 14-year-old girl when he was 18, describing the relationship as “like the Romeo and Juliet” story and saying it was coming to light because of “dirty politics.”
Bouchard initially disclosed what he described as a typical teenage relationship in a Facebook Live video to supporters Thursday. He later confirmed the girl’s age to the Casper Star-Tribune.
“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 newspaper.
Bouchard’s ex-wife killed herself 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 newspaper chose not to identify the woman.
Bouchard did not immediately return a phone call by The Associated Press seeking comment.
Kristen Schwartz, executive director for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault said laws exist to protect young people involved in these situations.
“There’s a reason we have laws against sexual abuse of a minor and it’s because the brain of a 14-year-old is not developed enough to make mature decisions about sex and sexuality,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz added that framing it as Romeo and Juliet is wrong.
“Any language that would minimize things that are a crime is harmful. It’s harmful to survivors and it’s harmful to our greater community,” she said.
Bouchard is among at least eight Republicans running against Cheney in 2022 after her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Bouchard said he decided to post the video to get ahead of a story about his previous marriage. In the video, Bouchard claims an unnamed reporter and a “political opposition research company” were driving the effort together.
Bouchard said he didn’t think Cheney was involved in the disclosure and Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler denied any involvement.
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.
“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,” Bouchard said. “And 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.”
His son has become “almost” estranged from him after making “some wrong choices in his life,” Bouchard said.
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.”