Mark Sanford’s Appalachian Trail journey has finally come to an end.
The South Carolina congressman on Friday announced that he called off his engagement with Maria Belen Chapur, a dramatic end to the couple’s years-long relationship, which began in the former governor’s extramarital affair that led to political disgrace, lasting through to his public comeback just last year.
In a bizarre and rambling 2,300-word Facebook message, Sanford described in detail the reasons behind the break up, alluding to tensions with his ex-wife Jenny and their bitter custody spats. Chapur first learned of the post through the media, according to The New York Times.
“No relationship can stand forever this tension of being forced to pick between the one you love and your own son or daughter, and for this reason Belen and I have decided to call off the engagement,” Sanford wrote. “Belen is a remarkably wonderful woman who I have always loved and I will be forever grateful for not only the many years we have known and loved each other, but the last six very tough ones wherein she has encouraged me and silently borne its tribulations with her ever warm and kind spirit.”
Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association in 2009 following revelations that he lied to his staffers, telling them he was hiking the Appalachian Mountains while he was in fact in South America with Chapur.
Unlike other former politicians attempting to outrun sex scandals last year, Sanford made a successful re-entry into politics, insisting that he was genuinely in love with his mistress, and the two were making plans to get married.
Mark and Jenny Sanford, meanwhile, have engaged in a very messy – and very public – custody battle over their four sons in the time since their 2010 divorce. During the height of Mark Sanford’s congressional campaign, his ex-wife sued him for trespassing on her private property. The charges were later dropped. Just last week, Jenny Sanford called on a family court judge to order the congressman to undergo psychiatric evaluation and limit visitation time with his kids, suggesting that her former husband abused prescription drugs and alcohol.
The congressmen hit back at the allegations – “This really is crazy” – and took to Facebook to air his grievances three days before his scheduled court appearance.
“This posting has been most personal, but again given the gravity of what has been alleged I felt compelled to address it and the larger context of where our family is and where we are headed,” he wrote.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Mark Sanford resigned as governor. He resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.