- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2010

NEW HAVEN, Conn. | A onetime senior attorney for President George W. Bush was charged Thursday with trying to kill his wife at their Connecticut home by beating her with a flashlight and choking her.

John Michael Farren, 57, was arraigned on charges of strangulation and attempted murder and ordered held on $2 million bail.

His wife, Mary Farren, was beaten so severely Wednesday night at their New Canaan home that she was at one point knocked unconscious and lost vision, police said. She managed to sound an alarm and flee the house with her two children.

Mr. Farren was general counsel at Xerox Corp. in 2007 when he was named deputy White House counsel during Mr. Bush’s second term. He was previously undersecretary for international trade in the Commerce Department under Mr. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush; deputy manager for the elder Mr. Bush’s 1992 re-election campaign; and deputy director for his transition team in 1989.

Messages were left for a spokesman for the younger Mr. Bush and for Fred Fielding, Mr. Farren’s boss in the White House counsel office.

An arrest affidavit says the attack occurred after Mary Farren delivered divorce papers Monday. John Farren’s lawyer, Eugene Riccio, called it “a tragic situation” Thursday.

Mary Farren is stable at a hospital with a broken nose, broken jaw and other injuries. Her attorney, Andrew Bowman, declined to comment.

Mr. Farren wanted his wife to drop her divorce lawsuit, but she refused, saying she could not deal with his explosive temper, according to the arrest affidavit. Mr. Farren then tackled her in a bedroom and pulled out some of her hair, according to the police account.

Mr. Farren beat her with a metal flashlight until she lost consciousness, according to the affidavit. He was still hitting her when she awoke, and he then began strangling her with his hands and caused her sight to fade, the account said.

The woman eventually found and triggered an alarm system despite her temporary blindness, and John Farren began hitting her again with the flashlight and threatened to slit his wrists, police said. He entered a bathroom with a large knife and tried to get his wife to follow, but she ran to her daughter’s bedroom, screaming, “Daddy’s trying to kill me,” the affidavit said.

She ran with her 7-year-old daughter and baby to the garage, fled in a BMW, stopped at a house and sought help, the document said.

John Farren requested medical help for arm cuts and a neck abrasion, police said. They said he had marks around his neck from what appeared to be a leather belt. He was placed on a suicide watch.

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