Two years ago, a Kennebec Journal carrier delivering papers in Augusta early one morning spotted something shimmering in her headlights.
So Donna Keller stopped to take a look.
It turned out to be a beautiful old ring with “five white stone diamonds,” as Keeler told her newspaper at the time.
That ring, it turned out, had belonged to David Sorensen’s grandmother. The senior policy advisor for Gov. Paul LePage had given it to his wife, Jessica Corbett.
At the time, Corbett said the ring had been loose and must have fallen outside somewhere.
That was not the truth.
“She threw the rings into a snowbank in a fit of rage,” Sorensen said. “They didn’t fall off her finger.”
“I threw it at David in a fight,” Corbett said, after he abandoned her in Portland.
The incident, which each described in separate interviews with the Sun Journal Monday, is just one snapshot of a marriage spinning toward a divorce, perhaps not that different from many others.
But in this case, Corbett’s allegations that Sorensen assaulted her during the marriage, told first to the FBI and later to reporters, led to the abrupt resignation of her husband last month from his job as a speechwriter for President Donald Trump.
Sorensen strongly denies any physical violence and he insists she sometimes hit him, not the other way around.
Corbett said she winged the rings at her husband on a Saturday night at the end of that January — and that he deserved it.
Sorensen, who also laid out a description of some of that day’s events in a printed statement released this month, said the pair drove from Augusta to Portland for a birthday brunch with friends at the Portland Regency Hotel.
On the way, he said, he called ahead to confirm the restaurant there served brunch “to make sure we weren’t going to be having cheeseburgers” — instead of brunch. Sorensen said he had made the call at the recommendation of a woman friend.
“This immediately infuriated Jessica,” he said. “She screamed at me about another woman interfering with her birthday brunch plans.”
“When I told her she was being unreasonable and she needed to do something about her anger,” he said, “she punched me in the face and grabbed the wheel of the car as I drove.”
Corbett scoffed at the tale.
“I suspect it’s the excuse he made up when questioned by everyone why he left me in Portland,” she said.
When they reached the hotel, Corbett’s mood turned brighter, Sorensen said, and they had a nice brunch with friends.
After a nice-enough afternoon, Sorensen said she suggested they go to dinner at Five Fifty-Five restaurant.
“Oh yeah, that’s the place I took you for our anniversary,” Sorensen recalled answering.
“This immediately sent her into a fit of rage again, because apparently that meant I was rejecting her suggestion,” he said.
“She got up and left where we were, walking down the street,” he said. “I followed her to try to persuade her to come back and she wouldn’t stop walking away and made it clear she wanted to be away from me. So I went back to the car and just waited.”
Corbett, however, said Sorensen “left me stranded in Portland after chasing me through the streets” and “yelling at me after he drank too much.”
“I texted her telling her where I was and I hope she joins me, but I would be leaving to go back home to Augusta in an hour,” Sorensen said. “She didn’t respond. I gave her not one hour but two. Then I went home.”
When he reached Augusta, he said, “she started furiously calling and texting that I had abandoned her.”
She told him her phone had died earlier.
Sorensen said he suggested she stay at the hotel, where they already had a reservation, and he would come get her in the morning.
“We should have a chance to cool off,” he said he told her.
Corbett said she took a $100 cab ride home to Augusta only to find she had been locked out of her own home. Inside, she said, two of Sorensen’s friends “were in my living room, watching through the window as I banged on” the door and begged for someone to open it. Neither man could be reached Monday.
Finally, she said, “David opened the door and I yelled at everyone to get out of my house,” which they swiftly did.
“She didn’t need to tell them to leave, believe me, they didn’t want to be there,” he said.
Sorensen got angry and told her, as she recalled, that she “came home all deranged,” and insisted that was why he had left her in Portland.
“I threw my rings, called him a heartless monster and told him there weren’t enough diamonds in the world that would make me want to be his wife,” Corbett said.
Sorensen later found one ring and put it back on her finger. The other remained missing until the carrier left a note a month later asking if they had lost it.
“Did I act in a way that I’m proud of? No,” Corbett said.
“Did I scream at everyone that night? Yes. Did I get violent with anyone? No,” she said.
“My screams were loud, but mostly cries begging to be let in and then at David for what he did,” she said.
Corbett said: “I’m not proud of that snapshot of my life, but I also don’t know how I should have acted. Women shouldn’t be forced to go through that just to receive decent treatment from their spouses. It’s the essence of abuse.”
She said, “Screaming at everyone humiliated me, but it took me years to realize that I played into David’s manipulation by doing so.”
“He was always cool and calm,” she said, and “always knew exactly how to hurt or manipulate me. Then, he would stand back after he gas lighted me and calmly remind me why I was the problem, that I was lucky he kept me around and that no one would believe me because of my hysteria.”
“When I stepped back and actually started talking about what happened, it was surreal to me because it’s still hard to comprehend how quickly my life turned from a fairy tale into a nightmare. I’m just grateful that’s not my life anymore.”
Sorensen, too, is happy they have each moved on.
Jessica Corbett (Sun Journal file photo)