RICHMOND -- Former governor Bob McDonnell described the deteriorating state of his marriage when he took the stand in his corruption trial Thursday.
McDonnell said although his wife helped put him through law school and was a "great campaigner" during his run for general assembly in 1991, communication has basically stopped in the last 18 months and the couple is no longer living together.
McDonnell said he moved in with his pastor at St. John's church a week before the trial because he didn't want to go home and "rehash what happened in court."
The former governor testified that he didn't believe his wife had a "physical affair" with Jonnie Williams but he believes the two have a "strong emotional relationship" since meeting in 2009.
The former governor and his wife are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements.
McDonnell testified that he and Maureen developed a sense of "separate lives" during the early 90s when he was traveling for the general assembly, army reserves and his own private practice.
"Maureen was a mom and did it very well," McDonnell said.
He said the couple's private arguments became more frequent because he was "emotionally unavailable," and tension and anxiety kept building.
After being elected governor, McDonnell testified that he found it difficult to deal with issues between Maureen and her staff.
"I signed up for this, but this was a lot. The crisis with Maureen's staff was just another hit," he said.
The former governor said he talked to Maureen about counseling but she was worried they wouldn't be able to keep it private so they never moved forward.
McDonnell said he liked Jonnie Williams when they met in 2009 and he found Williams "charming and funny." His wife, he said, "lit up" around Williams, which he found helpful because she was "in a better mood."
Maureen and Williams bonded over their passion for the neutraceutical business, McDonnell testified. He said Maureen seemed enthusiastic about the work Williams was doing.