Who Is William Shanahan? New Details On Patrick Shanahan's Son Who Was Accused Of Attacking His Mom

Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration as Defense Secretary over past domestic issues.

Who Is William Shanahan? New Details On Patrick Shanahan's Son Who Was Accused Of Attacking His Mom Getty

In a move that surprised Washington, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced this week that he would withdraw from the nominating process. The former Boeing executive has been serving as Deputy Defense Secretary under now-former Secretary James Mattis. Mattis resigned in 2018 over disagreements with the Trump administration’s policies. Shanahan stepped into the acting role and the White House announced plans to officially nominate him to the top job in 2019.


His confirmation was always slightly in doubt because he was not entirely well-liked within the department and he was under investigation for potentially improperly dealing with Boeing, where he used to work. But his decision to withdraw from the process came after the Washington Post interviewed him about past domestic violence allegations involving him, his ex-wife and his son William.

The allegations include an incident in which William beat his own mother with a baseball bat, for which he eventually served time in a reform camp, followed by probation.

Who is William Shanahan and what happened inside the Shanahan family? Read on for all the new details.


1. Marriage

Patrick Shanahan and his ex-wife Kimberley Jordinson had a long but turbulent marriage. Patrick started working for Boeing in 1986 and climbed the executive ranks at the aerospace company over the years, working on both air travel and missile defense programs. His multiple jobs overseeing different projects within the company moved him from location to location. For a period of time, he was based in Seattle while his wife and three children remained in Virginia. His children told the Washington Post that Kimberley was becoming erratic in her behavior. She allegedly tossed an entire thanksgiving dinner to the floor one year, saying her family didn’t appreciate her. In 2010, Kimberley was arrested for domestic violence after an argument where she began punching her husband, throwing his clothes out the window and attempting to set fire to them. She called 911 to say he had been trying to hit her but police arrived and discovered that Patrick was the one injured and arrested Kimberley. That incident led Patrick to file for divorce.

The Washington Post published a detailed report.


2. William

By 2011, the couple was in the midst of a divorce battle over custody. Kimberley had initially retained custody of the children, though the eldest had left home for college. Kimberley moved with the two younger children to Florida. According to the Washington Post, in November of that year, Kimberley and William began arguing about William’s alleged relationship with a 36-year-old woman. William was 17 at the time. The fight escalated to the point that William grabbed a baseball bat and struck his mother repeatedly, leaving her bleeding and unconscious on the floor. He disconnected the phone so that she couldn’t call 911 and left the home. His younger brother used a neighbor’s phone to summon help and William contacted his father.


Shanahan rushed to his son's side.

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3. Defense

The Washington Post reports that elder Shanahan flew immediately to Florida to assist his son and began working to plan his legal defense, including delaying surrendering to police and failing to turn over his son's cell phone. In a memo he wrote at the time he attempted to mount a self-defense argument saying: “She fueled the situation by berating him repeatedly in his room in a manner that escalated emotionally and physically.” He went on to detail ongoing issues within his family, including Kimberley’s emotional problems and her abusive history to him and the children. He said “Over the last 7+ years I have worked as much as possible, partially out of a desire to avoid inevitable conflicts with Kim. It appears that when I was not around to yell at, she started becoming intensely focused on berating, terrorizing and beating them down emotionally.” Years later, Patrick would express regret about this memo, saying he didn’t fully grasp the extent of the injuries his son inflicted on Kimberley, saying: “I have never believed Will’s attack on his mother was an act of self-defense or justified. I don’t believe violence is appropriate ever, and certainly never any justification for attacking someone with a baseball bat.”


Patrick and William's legal team worked to keep him out of jail before trial.

4. Conviction

The Washington Post reports that William was tried as an adult on one felony count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He pled down to a lesser charge and, the Post writes: “a state prosecutor agreed to a 'withhold of adjudication,' curtailing the length of the sentence and probation. The post-sentencing maneuver is not recognized outside of Florida and William’s record could not be sealed or expunged in the state because it involved a violent domestic assault.” William was ordered to spend 18 months at the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch followed by four years of probation. Both sentences were later reduced.

Kimberley required surgery for her injuries.


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5. Present day

After he served his sentence, William was able to attend the University of Washington where his father sits on the board of regents. The Heavy reveals that, like his father, he pursued a career in the aerospace industry and he is now engaged to be married. In Patrick Shanahan’s initial confirmation to be Deputy Secretary of Defense, the domestic issues of the past were not addressed. However, the resurfacing of the story was a factor in the Shanahan withdrawing himself from consideration at this time. He said that a public rehash of the events will “will ruin my son’s life.”

The story was not covered in Shanahan's initial confirmation hearings in 2017.


Neither William Shanahan or his mother Kimberley commented on the Washington Post story.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.