Ex-wife of state Sen. Virgil Smith says he was abusive

Oralandar Brand-Williams

Detroit — The ex-wife of state Sen. Virgil Smith Jr., who is accused of shooting at her in a late-night tirade outside his home, says she is a "survivor of domestic violence."

She made her comments at a brief news conference Friday after Smith's preliminary examination on assault and domestic violence charges was delayed so he can undergo a medical evaluation.

Anistia Thomas, wife of embattled State Sen. Virgil Smith, speaks during a news conference about the abuse by her former husband Virgil Smith.

Anistia Thomas, who was married to Smith for six months in 2009, also said her former husband was more concerned about his political career than his marriage.

It's the first time she has spoken about the incident last month outside Smith's house where she said the naked senator fired shots at her, striking her vehicle multiple times.

"I was assaulted by my ex-husband and former partner, Virgil Smith, on May 10, 2015," Thomas, an Ann Arbor businesswoman, said at the Hilton Garden hotel downtown across from the courthouse where Smith had his brief hearing.

"The reason I am alive is to be able to share my story hoping that it impacts another victim's life."

Thomas, in her 30s, would not go into details about her allegations she was an abused spouse, but she did say she is speaking out as part of "saving lives" for others who don't and can't speak out.

She said she filed for a Personal Protection Order last month, but she did not provide reporters with a copy.

Staffers in the Wayne County Clerk's office said the file was in possession of a judge, who was not available Friday.

Thomas said she is aware of attempts to discredit her but she is moving forward with her efforts to tell her story.

"I am continuing in the act of my integrity," she said.

Thomas said the violence she claims was committed against her by Smith "is more important than a Senate seat."

Smith, according to Thomas, allegedly told her their relationship "was not as important as his political career."

After the May incident, Smith, D-Detroit, missed six Senate sessions before returning to work in the Legislature. He has been stripped of his committee assignments and duties as assistant caucus whip.

In divorce papers filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, Thomas alleges she had "refused to proceed with the marriage unless Virgil Smith agreed to her demands that he participate in marriage counseling, sort out their lives in order to combine them as one, including selection and agreement on a combined location for the life together and to work out matters of communication with spiritual guidance."

Smith, according to Thomas, filed for an annulment or a divorce "rather than perform upon his promises and assurances."

The couple "has never cohabited as husband and wife in any way," according to the divorce papers filed in July 2009. Thomas said after her news conference Friday she is Smith's "one and only wife."

Smith's father, chief Wayne County Judge Virgil Smith, looked on in the courtroom where 36th District Court Judge Michael Wagner presided over the brief hearing Friday before it was adjourned at the request of Smith's attorney to give him time to deal with "medical issues" in the case.


Godfrey Dillard, Smith's attorney, did not elaborate in court what the "medical issues" are that Smith must deal with.

Thomas did not address details about the May incident at Smith's house. She also would not address questions about whether the abuse took place more than once.

Thomas said domestic violence "is not solely a woman's problem but a community's problem as well."

"This is not a political campaign, it is about saving lives," she said.

Efforts to reach Smith's attorney were not successful.

Last month, the 35-year-old Smith was charged with felonious assault, malicious destruction of personal property $20,000 or larger, domestic violence assault and battery as well as felony firearm in the incident where he is accused of shooting up his ex-wife's Mercedes-Benz after an alleged argument at the Democrat's home on the city's east side.

His next court hearing is scheduled for June 25.


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