As the US Senate runoff between Senator Raphael Warnock and soccer legend Herschel Walker enters its final hours, an ex-girlfriend of Walker shares details of his abusive behavior towards her.
Cheryl Parsa, 61, told NBC News on Sunday that she had a five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s. During an argument in 2005, she said, Walker pressed her head against a wall, grabbed her throat, and strained his fist to deliver a punch that missed and hit that wall.
Walker’s campaign has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Last week, the Daily Beast first told Parsa’s story.
She said she confronted Walker, also 61, in 2005 after finding him with another woman in a Dallas apartment.
“He told me you want to see a man,” Parsa said in an interview. “I’ll show you a man.”
At that point, she said, Walker pressed his forehead against hers, which also pinned her head against a wall, and spoke so intensely that his spit hit her.
“He had his hand on my throat, my chest, and then he leaned back to deliver a punch,” Parsa said. “And luckily I was able to avoid that. And the punch landed on the wall instead of on me.”
Three of Parsa’s confidants told NBC she told them about the incident before Walker ran for the Georgia seat.
In 2008, his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, said she was a victim of domestic violence during the duo’s marriage.
“He has a gun and he held it to my temple,” Grossman said of the incident. “He said, ‘I’m going to suck you off [expletive] brain out.”
The contestant said he has struggled with mental illness in the past. In October’s debate with Warnock, he said the matter was under control.
“I continue to get help when I need help,” he said. “But I don’t need any help. I’m fine.”
In a 2013 interview with Spectrum Sports, he said, “I have personalities that do a lot of things, including a guy who wanted to kill someone.”
In his 2008 book Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Walker said he was diagnosed with the condition, which was defined by multiple, distinct personalities.
Editor Simon & Schuster teased the book: “Herschel realized that at times his life was just out of control. He often felt angry, self-destructive, and unable to meaningfully connect with friends and family.”
The Democratic Party-affiliated, Senate PAC-majority-affiliated group Georgia Honor last week began airing television spots in the state containing allegations of Grossman and other alleged threats of violence by Walker.
The ads follow a report in October that Walker, who was adamantly anti-abortion, paid for a woman to have an abortion in 2009. The former player firmly denied the claim, saying he has never given a woman money for an abortion or paid for one in any form.
In a subsequent challenge to Walker’s credibility, his 23-year-old son Christian Walker said: tweeted two months ago that his father once “threatened to kill us”.
He said “every family member” of the three-time Heisman Trophy winner told him not to run for the US Senate seat. The abortion controversy prompted Walker to confirm Daily Beast’s report that he has three other children, previously unknown to the public.
Walker responded to his son’s criticism via Twitter: “I LOVE my son no matter what.”
Some Republican leaders suggested negative headlines about the former player were part of a Democratic effort to spread falsehoods in Warnock’s favour.
Florida Senator Rick Scott said in an October statement that the abortion payment story is part of a Democratic “smear machine.” Walker has steadfastly denied ever paying for an abortion.
Parsa said she is campaigning for women – and to draw more attention to domestic violence. It’s not a role she expected.
“Who would have ever thought that he would run for the Senate … and that would make me feel compelled to volunteer?” she said. “I never really thought I would get into this situation.”