Busch request to reopen Driscoll case denied

Kurt Busch's request to have his protective order hearing reopened by a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner was denied Tuesday.

The decision by Commissioner David Jones, while not in Busch's favor, now allows Busch to proceed with his planned appeal of the decision to a family court judge.

Busch's legal team filed the motion to reopen the hearing Feb. 19, four days after Jones granted the protective order and one day before Jones released his findings and conclusions on why he had determined that Busch had likely committed an act of domestic violence on ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.

Just hours after the release of the findings and conclusions (which Busch also had requested to be delayed while the commissioner weighed whether to reopen the hearing), NASCAR suspended Busch, who missed the Daytona 500 two days later as well as the next two races.

The Delaware attorney general's office declined to file criminal charges against Busch, who was reinstated Wednesday by NASCAR and finished fifth Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, has repeatedly said that Driscoll fabricated the story of what happened Sept. 26 at his motorhome at Dover International Speedway.

Jones determined that the preponderance of the evidence during the four days of testimony in December and January weighed in favor of Driscoll's version. He determined that Busch committed an act of domestic violence "by manually strangling her by placing his left hand on her throat, while placing his right hand on her chin and face and smashing her head into the wall of his motor home."

Busch contends that he cupped her cheeks with his hands and repeatedly asked her to leave his motorhome. The couple's four-year relationship had ended a week earlier.

In the motion to reopen the hearing, Busch's legal team said it had three witnesses — including Beverly Young, whom Driscoll has referred to as her mother although they are not biologically related — who had come forward willing to testify to place doubt on Driscoll's testimony and show that Driscoll was out to ruin Busch.

Jones denied the motion Tuesday, ruling that the witnesses could have been compelled to give depositions in December or January and that their testimony would not have changed his opinion.

"The newly discovered evidence, when considered in the context of the evidence presented at trial, would not establish that [Driscoll] was motivated by desire to ruin [Busch] when she first reported the allegations of abuse," Jones wrote.

Driscoll issued a statement Tuesday stating she was pleased with the decision.

"The protection from abuse order gave me a sense of safety, and I'm greatly relieved that the court reaffirmed my account and upheld it," she said.

Busch said last week he would continue to pursue the appeal.

"What's happened so far in court, there's been no winners," he said. "Everybody has lost on that portion of it.

"I have my attorneys handling the pending appeals, and I'll leave that to them."

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