Arpaio ad accuses challenger of abusing wife

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has launched a TV commercial that accuses his Democratic rival Paul Penzone of abusing his wife in a 2003 domestic dispute, an allegation that the challenger vigorously denies.

No charges were filed in the dispute.

The ad reiterates allegations made by Paul Penzone's then-estranged wife that Penzone had caused her to hit her forehead in March 2003 by pushing her on a doorway.

Arpaio's commercial said Penzone has tried to explain away the allegations, but that there's no excuse for hitting a woman.

Penzone called a news conference Thursday to deny that he ever struck or pushed his wife, point out that he reported the dispute to police and said that it was his wife who hit him in the head during the dispute with a hockey stick.

"I did not push my ex wife," Penzone told 3TV.

"I'll take the brunt of it. Nothing happened.  It was unfortunate.  Anyone who's gone through a divorce understands emotions get involved, but I never harmed her," Penzone said.

The candidate says he expected Arpaio's campaign to use the incident against him at some point, and released details of it in July on his own website.

The campaign for the Republican sheriff released a statement Thursday saying it stands by the ad.

The dispute came as Penzone went to pick up hockey equipment for his 10-year-old son from Susan Penzone's house and an argument over visitation of their child ensued.

A report of the dispute by the Glendale Police Department said Paul Penzone suffered a minor bruise on his right cheek and Susan Penzone suffered a minor bruise on her forehead.

Susan Penzone told investigators that it's possible she could have inadvertently struck Paul Penzone. She didn't immediately return a call for comment Thursday afternoon.

The report said city prosecutors in Glendale declined to prosecute either person because there were conflicting accounts without any independent witnesses and no reasonable likelihood of winning convictions.

Glendale police spokesman Tracey Breeden confirms Thursday that no criminal charges were filed over the dispute.

Penzone was working as a sergeant for the Phoenix Police Department at the time of the dispute. He has since retired and remarried.

Earlier in the campaign, Penzone ran a commercial that accused Arpaio's office of refusing to investigate the molestation of a 6-year-old and tried to cast doubt about Arpaio's reputation for being tough on crime.

Arpaio's office reopened 432 sex-crimes cases that were inadequately investigated or not investigated at all over a three-year period that ended in 2007.

The sheriff has apologized for the botched investigations and emphasized that his office has taken steps to prevent the problem from happening again.