WASHINGTON – Rep. Don Sherwood (search), R-Pa., admitted in court papers filed Thursday that he had an affair with a Maryland woman for five years, but he denied abusing her, as she claimed in a $5.5 million civil suit.
The court papers were filed by Sherwood in response to the lawsuit filed last month by Cynthia Ore (search), 29, of Rockville, Md. In it, she alleges that he assaulted and struck her on several occasions.
Sherwood, 64, denied in Thursday's filing that Ore lived at his Capitol Hill apartment, as she had claimed in her suit. He said the affair ended Sept. 15, 2004 — the day police were called to his apartment after Ore dialed 911.
In a statement released Thursday, he apologized for the affair but denied hurting Ore.
"I will defend myself to the fullest extent possible against these malicious and baseless allegations," Sherwood said.
A voice message left Thursday for Ore's attorney, Patrick Regan, was not immediately returned.
Sherwood, a married millionaire with three daughters, is a four-term congressman.
Ore has said the two met at a Young Republicans (search) event and began a relationship in 1999. Sherwood said in Thursday's court filing he could not remember where they met.
Her suit says she remained in the relationship despite the alleged assaults because Sherwood promised to marry her and start a family; Sherwood denied that.
According to the Sept. 15 police report, Ore called 911 on her cell phone from the bathroom of Sherwood's apartment and reported that he had "choked her for no apparent reason." Both parties said he had been giving her a back rub, but he said she "jumped up" and ran to the bathroom.
The report said Ore had no physical evidence of injury but "did not seem to be of sound mind." It added that "both parties have left out significant information or are not willing to discuss in detail what actually happened."
Shortly after the incident became public in May, Sherwood issued an apology for "the pain and embarrassment" he had caused his family and supporters.