This story was updated at 11 a.m. on June 29, 2022, to add additional information
A temporary protective order has been granted against former state Del. Saqib Ali of Montgomery County, who this year is running in the Democratic primary for District 15 delegate. The petition for the protective order and a divorce complaint, filed Friday and Monday respectively, accuse Ali, 47, of abusing his wife and their two teenage children.
The new filings come about a month after Ali’s wife requested several other temporary protective orders. Two petitions for protective orders filed May 25 and 28 included the conditions that Ali not contact family members or visit the family home, the wife’s workplace or the children’s schools, court records show. Those petitions were dismissed in early June.
Ali, who appears in judicial records as Syed Saqib Ali, was to be evaluated by a doctor and complete an anger management program and could not return to the family’s Potomac home before June 22, according to District Court documents.
Upon returning, Ali “became violent” toward one of the children, the divorce filing alleges, and the mother and two children had to flee.
Ali says the allegations are not true and that he has never physically or verbally abused his wife or children. In a phone interview with Bethesda Beat on Tuesday night, he said that he and his wife have a “conflict” about the best way to parent through a crisis the family is experiencing.
He disputed the contention that he was violent on June 22, said his wife and children did not flee the house after the alleged incident and said he was not aware of any document requiring that he undertake an anger management program.
Ali said he plans to continue his campaign.
“A lot of people in America … have experienced difficulty in their personal lives. And I am one of them, and everybody soldiers on,” he said. “Politicians everywhere get divorces and it’s a sad situation … but I don’t think it would be constructive to just give up. I care so deeply about women’s reproductive rights. I care so deeply about the gun violence crisis that we’re living through.”
Stuart Grozbean, an attorney with the firm that represents Ali’s wife, declined to comment to Bethesda Beat on Tuesday.
Ali served in the House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011, representing District 39, which includes Montgomery Village and Germantown. This year he is running in the July 19 Democratic primary for a seat in the District 15 (North Potomac, Darnestown, Poolesville) delegate race.
Ali is challenging incumbent Dels. Lily Qi, Linda Foley and David Fraser-Hidalgo. Three Republican candidates have also filed in the District 15 race.
Ali raised more than $33,000 from Jan 13. to June 7 and had a bank balance of nearly $77,000 as of this month, according to his latest campaign finance report. Ali outraised his three opponents during that reporting period and had the second-highest bank balance next to Qi.
Qi, Foley and Fraser-Hidalgo could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning. Arthur Edmunds, the chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, declined to comment to Bethesda Beat.
According to the divorce filing, Ali’s wife filed a petition for protection from domestic violence in Montgomery County District Court on May 24, on behalf of her and their children, who are 13 and 16. Bethesda Beat is not identifying Ali’s wife or children to protect their privacy. The petition was later dismissed, according to the divorce filing.
Court records show two protective order petitions were filed May 25 and 28, with the following conditions: “shall not abuse,” “shall not contact,” “shall stay away from school,” “shall stay away from employment,” “shall vacate the home” and “shall not enter residence.” Those two cases were dismissed on June 8.
The state’s court database indicates that the two protective orders include content that is under seal.
A separate document from District Court that references those two cases states that Ali was to be evaluated by a doctor and was to complete an anger management program. The document states that Ali was not to return to the family home in Potomac prior to June 22, and that he was to notify his wife of the length and expected completion date of the program.
On June 22 when Ali was at home, he allegedly “became violent” toward one of his children, making it necessary for the children and their mother to flee the home, according to the divorce filing documents. Two days later, Ali’s wife filed for another petition for protection from domestic violence in Circuit Court, and a temporary protective order was granted by Judge Margaret Schweitzer that day, according to court documents. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for this Friday.
Ali’s wife’s divorce complaint states that she has primary physical custody of their children due to the temporary order, and requests that the court award her sole legal and primary physical custody.
“[Ali] is not a fit and proper person to have legal or physical custody of the parties’ minor children, and it is not in the children’s best interests for him to be awarded such,” the filing states. “Defendant’s ongoing abusive behavior toward [Ali’s wife] and the minor children cause [Ali’s wife] to have grave concerns over the mental stability of [Ali] and his ability to be an effective and safe parent of the parties’ minor children.”
The divorce filing alleges that Ali has endangered his wife’s “life, personal health, wellbeing and self-respect, in such a way that would leave to reasonable apprehension of serious bodily, mental and emotional harm.” It accuses Ali of creating a “hostile and unsafe living environment” for his wife and children.
The filing does not go into more detail about the alleged abuse.
Speaking to Bethesda Beat on Tuesday, Ali said the allegation about him behaving violently on June 22 refers to an interaction with one of his children, related to the family crisis.
“The allegation is this: that I dragged” one of the children out of a room to address the crisis, he said. “That’s not true.”
Instead, he says he encouraged her to come out of the room voluntarily.
“It’s a very fraught situation,” he said.
Ali said it’s not true that his wife and children fled the house after the June 22 incident. He said a crisis team came to the home later that day, followed by other family members.
Ali says the allegations are not true and that he has never physically or verbally abused his wife or children.
“It’s just not true. Divorces are unpleasant and heartbreaking, and I am going through a heartbreaking and unpleasant time. But I’ve never laid a finger on my wife,” he said.
Asked about the origin of the allegations, Ali said the divorce has caused his family a great deal of strife, anger and bitterness.
“In any family quarrel, people sometimes don’t tell the truth. And there’s all that stuff going on, and it’s very unfortunate for my family that this has all spilled out in public. But sadly, a lot of people have been through this kind of thing,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org