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Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes' wife alleges widespread abuse in petition for restraining order

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes faces allegations of abuse and household violence in a motion for a temporary restraining order his wife filed last month with a Montana court.

Stewart Rhodes, the head of the antigovernment Oath Keepers, will frequently threaten himself and his family with a weapon he always carries, and he has a history of violent outbursts against his family, including an incident in 2016 when he choked his teenage daughter by the throat.

That history was outlined in a sworn petition Rhodes’ wife, Tasha Vonn Adams Rhodes, filed last month in a Lincoln County, Montana, court room asking for a temporary protective order against her husband. Hatewatch obtained a copy of the petition on Thursday.

Vonn Adams Rhodes claims in the filing that the most recent incident involving her husband occurred last November at the family home in Trego, a far-northern Montana town where Rhodes lives with his wife and four of their six children.

“Whenever [Stewart Rhodes] is unhappy with my behavior (say I want to leave the house — he doesn’t like me to leave) he will draw his handgun (which he always wears), rack the slide, wave it around, and then point it at his own head, telling me my behavior has caused this,” Vonn Adams Rhodes wrote in the petition, which was filed on February 20. “I filed for divorce a few days ago and am terrified.”

While the order was denied and no hearing was scheduled, the hand-written petition outlines a terrifying pattern of threats and encounters. And Vonn Adams Rhodes' concerns are not without merit. Surveys conducted by gun awareness groups like the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund have found that domestic violence in a home where a gun is present is five times more likely to end with a woman being killed. 

In a section on the petition labeled “Past Abuse,” Vonn Adams Rhodes wrote.

In summer 2016 grabbed my teenager daughter by the throat until stopped by my son. In 2013, pointed a loaded, chambered handgun at his own head. In 2016 did this again but this time with much more gun waving and more angry words before he eventually pointed at his head. Also did this three more times, each time increasing the threat level to me, by waving the gun around a little more each time before claiming he was suicidal.

She continued:

Also, after a dispute with a neighbor, whenever [Rhodes] drives passed [sic] their yard he unholsters his handgun and points through the car door at their house, despite the fact that some of our children are often in and out of their house.

A telephone message left Thursday at the family’s home seeking comment was not returned. 

Allegations of Rhodes’ erratic and violent behavior centers on a period of expansive growth in the antigovernment movement, and his efforts to build the Oath Keepers by capitalizing on wide-ranging conspiracy theories during the Obama administration. It was also during that time that the Oath Keepers, which Rhodes began in 2009, became a widely recognized group on the radical right especially after 2014, when militias including the Oath Keepers flocked to Nevada to help embattled cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.

In her petition, Vonn Adams Rhodes goes on to describe that she has felt threatened by Rhodes on numerous occasions, especially when he begins “waving around [a] handgun, threatening himself while yelling and screaming at me to treat him better."

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