By Jerry Jordan — DOVER, Del. – For the second time, in as many days, testimony Tuesday in a domestic abuse case brought by Patricia Driscoll in a Kent County (Del.) Family Court appeared to impeach her previous sworn statements and painted her as a scorned lover rather than the victim of assault by her now ex-boyfriend, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch. But, it was the discussion of Driscoll’s role as a possible CIA operative that captured the attention of most everyone in the courtroom.
Like the day before, the issue of whether Driscoll is or, is not, a trained assassin, who kills Mexican drug lords for the U.S. government, was a topic of discussion. Under Delaware law, to obtain a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, McNeice must prove the abuse actually occurred. Busch has maintained that he is afraid of Driscoll because of evidence he has seen that would indicate her clandestine career.
“I believed it because I saw it and I lived it,” Busch testified. “Everybody on the outside can tell me I am crazy but I lived it on the inside and saw it firsthand. She described her ability to kill people with knives, pistols and poison.
“Sorry, I am late to the party.”
At one point, Commissioner Jones even asked Busch to elaborate on his testimony about Driscoll’s extra-curricular activities.
“She had to certify with her weapon every January. There were random trips to The Farm, which is the CIA headquarters. There were so many occasions where she would come back with bumps and bruises and scrapes,” Busch told him. “There was one, where I went with her to El Paso, Texas, and her family lives there. We had dinner with her mom and dad. I stayed in the hotel room and she left with her gear on one night and came back with a trench coat that she did not leave with, covering the evening gown that she came back in that was covered in blood and matter. It gave me every reason to believe that this was an operative that worked in the underground of the military.”
Hardin then asked Busch about his state of mind and what he believed would happen to him, had he assaulted Driscoll on September 26.
“Frankly, I would have gotten my ass handed to me,” he said.
Busch is accused of assaulting Driscoll after an argument between two inside his motor coach. He had ended their relationship the week before, September 21, cutting off all physical contact with her and only exchanging a couple of text messages with her over the next five days. However, after one of those text messages, Driscoll, with her son in tow, went to Dover International Speedway and let herself into his motor coach using the code she learned when they dated. From that point, the stories differ with her claiming he “grabbed” her neck and “slammed her head into a wall three times” before she pushed him away and ran to safety. He testified he “cupped her face in his hands” as if he was going to kiss her, leaned her head back and told her “you need to leave.” He admitted she may have bumped her head when he leaned her back to look into her eyes but the space between her head and the wall was only a few inches.
On Monday, Motor Racing Outreach minister, Nick Terry, said he neither he, no his wife, saw any marks on Driscoll’s face when she ran to his motor coach seeking help after the alleged assault. Additional evidence from Richard Andrew Sniffen, an ordained minister, who said he was friends with both parties helped Busch’s attorney prove up inconsistencies with her comments under cross examination.
Sniffen said he received a call from Driscoll on September 26 and when he answered the phone, he could tell she was crying. The two talked as she drove back from Dover to her home in Ellicott City, Md.
“First, she was crying when I answered the telephone, so I knew there was something wrong,” Sniffen said, when questioned about the conversation by Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, of Houston. “She said that she had gone to see him and they got into an argument … and during the course of that argument ‘he pushed me and I hit my head.’ Looking back on my memory of what her exact words were, she did not say that she was afraid of him. More about being in disbelief that it happened rather than being afraid of him. She didn’t tell me that night she was afraid of him. The comments were not all focused on her hitting her head. The majority was about this relationship that was failing.”
Sniffen said he and Driscoll had talked several times during the week leading up to the alleged assault because she was concerned about the breakup and informed him that Busch had ripped the rearview mirror off a rental car following his poor performance at New Hampshire, which was the second race in NASCAR’s Challenger Round for the 2014 Sprint Cup Series title.
As Hardin continued to question Sniffen, he said her demeanor changed over the next few weeks and that he believed her heartbreak over the failed relationship and disbelief over what she termed abuse, had turned to anger and revenge. Sniffen admitted that his memory, when it came to dates and times, was not the best but sometime around when the matter went public, Driscoll began indicating she and Kurt could not reconcile.
“The change in her comments was when things that were focused on the relationship and the love aspect of the relationship … to answer your question as to why it turned to an issue of revenge or that kind of mindset was because the things that were said we speaking directly to things that were not emotional in nature, they were technical in nature, so she made comments about his career and the benefit she played there. I sacrificed my non-profit and my business to focus my efforts solely on his career, to focus on how the media and the fan base see him turning his career completely around from a PR (public relations) perspective. I have put in all kinds of time and resources and made sacrifices in doing that and he is not going to walk away from me.”
When Hardin asked whether Driscoll ever said what she intended to do with regards to Busch’s career, he replied, “she intended to destroy it.”
“Did she say that,” Hardin asked.
“Yes,” Sniffen replied.
“Can you give the court the best memory you can of the exact words you remember her saying,” Hardin said.
“I will destroy him,” Sniffen said, with emphasis on each word.
Hardin then asked Sniffen if Driscoll ever said anything else that would indicate she was out for revenge against his client. He said that on multiple occasions that she would take him down.
Throughout the line of questioning Driscoll’s attorney, Carolyn McNeice, repeatedly objected to the manner in which Hardin was asking his questions saying he was leading the witness. The issue became a point of contention between Busch’s attorney and the Family Court Commissioner David Jones. Hardin argued that he was not leading the witness but instead impeaching Driscoll’s testimony by asking him directly if she had told him that she would destroy Busch’s career and take him down.
“She has denied saying specific things that I asked her in cross (examination),” Hardin said. “So, in all due respect it is not a leading question to say ‘did she say so and so’ on prior dates. She has testified she did not. That is why I wanted to get into specific questions. The questions are right out of the transcript or her testimony.”
Jones responded, “I understand what you are saying, Mr. Hardin. My understanding is that his specific recollection of what people have said to him is sufficiently poor, that suggesting what someone may or may not have said to him on a particular occasion may be tantamount to leading. I will allow you to continue to ask the questions but there will come a point when it’s going to end up being sustained.”
More objections were raised and Hardin kept explaining the reasoning behind his line of questioning – to the point Commissioner Jones said, in frustration, “I will allow you to continue, Mr. Hardin, for as long as you want to continue.”
While Busch was being cross examined on his previous testimony by Driscoll’s attorney, she asked several questions about his consumption of alcohol, if he was being counseled by psychotherapist, what medications he may be prescribed and his past outbursts. She also brought up his being drunk at a 2011 Chicago Cubs baseball game and taking a swing at his executive assistant, Kristy Cloutier, who confirmed the incident under oath.
“It was a rough year. But three percent of the time doesn’t define someone 100 percent of the time,” Busch said. “I recall the incident. I had been drinking that evening. We were all getting into a cab together and I was drunk.
“My business life and my personal life were all in shambles and I got that all turned around.”
McNeice appeared to be trying to link his past issues of alcohol and violence to the mirror incident in the rental car on September 21 and the encounter with Driscoll on September 26. On each of those occasions, Busch said he had not been drinking because they were race weekends. With regards to him being prescribed prescription drugs, Busch said his sports psychologist prescribed something but he didn’t immediately recall what it was and he stopped taking after four months because, “I did not like the way my body felt when I was racing.”
He said following that decision, people were congratulating him on turning his career around, but he waited another four months to inform anyone that he had stopped taking his medication long ago. He said they were “proud” of him.
It was expected that Driscoll’s second ex-husband, Geoffrey Hermanstorfer, would also testify today but Hardin did not put him on the stand. He had waited outside the courtroom for the entirety of both days of testimony this week, while his current wife sat inside and took notes.
Driscoll’s attorney only put one witness on the stand for her portion of the case, Dover Police Det. Jim Woods. His overall testimony was to back-up what Driscoll had alleged in her petition for the protection order and the criminal case pending against Busch, which is being review by the Delaware Attorney General.
He did say that Busch and his legal team had fully cooperated with him. He said he was provided with names and statements from people Busch thought he should speak with and encouraged to call them on his own to find out what they had to say. He also confirmed that both Driscoll and Busch were recorded on video when they came to his office to provide statements in the case.
As Busch walked from the courthouse with his attorney the two stopped and made a brief statement to the media.
“I am just glad that the truth got told and we will wait on the commissioner’s decision,” Busch said.
Hardin added that he didn’t want to make a comment about the outcome of the case, one way or the other, but that “We know one thing. He never, ever physically abused her. And we are real comfortable that that was made clear today, the last two days in particular, and we will just wait and see what the outcome is.”
Now, Commissioner Jones will take the evidence and testimony under review and await summations by both sides before making a ruling. Busch’s attorney confirmed his office will pay for a full transcript of the hearing to aid Commissioner Jones in his review. The commissioner said he expects it will take “10 days to two weeks” before his ruling is sent to the parties and made public. That date falls square in the middle of NASCAR’s annual media week in Charlotte, N.C.