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Husband of Sherri Papini, woman who faked 2016 kidnapping, files for divorce and child custody

<i>Rich Pedroncelli/AP</i><br/>
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

By Taylor Romine

The husband of Sherri Papini, the Northern California woman accused of faking her own kidnapping in 2016, has filed for divorce and custody of the couple’s two children, court records show.

Papini, 39, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and making false statements in court Monday. She appeared virtually in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California where Judge William B. Shubb asked her to discuss her background and if she was ever treated for mental illness.

Papini told the court she was in treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD for about five years starting in 2016 and struggled a bit during middle school.

Keith Papini, in his filing, said that his wife was “not acting in a rational manner.”

His wife had lied to their children about her disappearance, Keith Papini said in a court document. “The fact that their mother lied to them on such a major issue is something they, and I, are having a hard time dealing with. We, both children and I, need time to recover and stabilize.”

Sherri hasn’t seen the children since April 4 and has missed one scheduled visitation time, he noted, before asking the court to “help me protect my children from the negative impact of their mother’s notoriety.”

According to the divorce petition, the Papinis have been married since October 2009 and separated on March 3, the same day she was arrested on federal charges.

Sherri Papini’s attorney declined to comment on the filing.

Papini is currently staying with a relative in Chico, California, roughly 75 miles south of where Keith and the children live, court documents show.

The couple is scheduled to address custody issues at a court hearing on May 9.

As CNN previously reported, Papini was reported missing by her husband in November 2016 after she had gone out for a jog near her home in Shasta County. Three weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, she was found alone on an interstate highway 140 miles from home.

She told police she had been abducted and branded by two women who kept her chained in a closet. She gave an elaborate story of her kidnapping and treatment at the hands of the supposed assailants, whom she said wore masks, spoke Spanish, held her at gunpoint and branded her with a heated tool.

However, according to the Department of Justice, Papini actually stayed with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California during the three weeks she was reported missing and received more than $30,000 in fraudulent victim assistance money based on the hoax, court documents show.

Papini faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. She will be sentenced on July 11.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Eric Levenson, Stella Chan and Amir Vera contributed to this report.

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