UPDATE (4:45 p.m)
The Family Court hearing involving NASCAR driver Kurt Busch has recessed for the day. Both Busch and former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll left the building separately and were whisked away in waiting vehicles.
The hearing is to resume at 10 a.m. Dec. 16.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch appeared at a Kent County Family Court in Dover on Tuesday for a hearing on his former girlfriend’s request to have him barred from having any contact with her.
The hearing began about 10:30 a.m. and was testimony was still being heard by the Dover Post’s deadline at 1 p.m. An update on the outcome of hearing will be posted at DoverPost.com.
Busch’s former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll of Ellicott City, Md., filed for a protection from abuse order on Nov. 5, more than a week after she claims to have been assaulted by the NASCAR driver following the qualifying race for the AAA 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway.
She also filed a criminal assault complaint with the Dover Police Department on Nov. 5 in which she alleges Busch grabbed her face and smashed her head into a motor coach wall three times.
Detectives are still investigating the complaint and no criminal charges have been filed as of Tuesday.
The attorneys representing Busch and Driscoll failed to come to an agreement during a mediation session Tuesday morning, which prompted a formal court hearing.
Family Court Commissioner David Jones began the proceedings by stating it was up to Driscoll to prove she needed a formal court order against Busch.
Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin of Texas, began his opening remarks by calling Driscoll “disingenuous, calculating and mercenary.”
“This is a story that’s unbelievable, told by a storyteller that’s incredible,” said Hardin, who later insinuated Driscoll had gone into the motor coach as an “uninvited trespasser” to confront Busch over the couple’s nasty breakup the week before.
Hardin argued that a protection order is not necessary, because the two no longer live together and have homes in different states.
During her testimony, Driscoll recalled the events that led leading up to the alleged assault.
She said she and Busch had been together for four years, during which time they lived in each other’s homes and communicated almost every day, either by phone or by text. Driscoll also spoke of Busch’s close relationship with her 9-year-old son, including how he renovated the motor coach to give the boy his own sleeping space.
She also claimed to have attended every race in which Busch took part, both as his girlfriend and as president of the Armed Forces Foundation, a veterans-advocacy group with close ties to NASCAR.
But the relationship was not always a smooth one, Driscoll said. In halting, sometimes tearful testimony, she said Busch sometimes would act irrationally, particularly near the end of a racing season if he were not doing well in NASCAR standings. The week before the incident, Driscoll claimed, Busch became infuriated while the couple was driving to Boston from a New Hampshire race. She said she left him at the airport after he flew into a rage and ripped the rearview mirror off the rental car windshield.
Even after that incident, Driscoll said she took her son with her to Dover Downs after receiving a text from Busch who said he was lying on the floor of his motor home and crying. She testified that she and Busch talked inside the motor coach for about 10 minutes, as he insulted various members of his racing team, accused her of spying on him and claimed he would kill himself if he had a gun.
During this tirade, he suddenly grabbed her face in one hand and squeezed her throat with the other, slamming her head into a wall several times, Driscoll said.
Afterward, Driscoll told the court, she gathered her son, who was in another room, and went to a friend’s motor home, where she applied a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts to her head to diminish the swelling.
Later, she took photographs of her neck and head, showing, she said, where she had been choked.
During Hardin’s cross-examination, Driscoll acknowledged that she did not call police immediately after the alleged incident. She said she did not file her complaint right away out of fear for how the negative publicity would adversely affect an ongoing, bitter custody dispute between her and her ex-husband.