Congressman Madison Cawthorn, paralyzed in a car crash at the age of 21, rose to his feet to exchange vows with Cristina Bayardelle in an intimate wedding ceremony on Saturday.
The North Carolina congressman, 25, the youngest member of Congress in more than 200 years, said marrying Bayardelle, a 26-year-old anesthesiologist assistant and Crossfit athlete, was the ‘greatest honor, privilege and adventure of my life’.
Pictures of the ceremony, posted on social media on Sunday, show a beaming Cawthorn in a navy-blue suit, cream tie and custom-made leg braces as he and Bayardelle were married in front of a large wooden cross.
The bride wore a stunning strapless gown with a flowing train.
Cawthorn has faced sexual harassment allegations and claims he lied about the crash that left him in a wheelchair and about his stated aspirations of wanting to become a Paralympian.
Madison and Cristina Cawthorn, née Bayardelle, were married in a private ceremony on Saturday
The bride looked radiant in a flowing strapless gown with lengthy train, while the paralyzed Congressman took to his feet to kiss the bride after exchanging vows
Madison Cawthorn, 25, is the youngest member of Congress in more than 200 years, and his new bride is an an anesthesiologist assistant
Madison Cawthorn revealed news of the wedding to his 50,000 followers on Twitter
In a post on Twitter, Cawthorn said: ‘On April 3rd of 2014 my life changed. A car accident put me in a wheelchair and dashed my hopes for the future. On April 3rd of 2021 my life has once again changed. Marrying Cristina Bayardelle, now Cristina Cawthorn, is the greatest honor, privilege and adventure of my life.’
Footage posted on Cristina’s Instagram feed shows them enjoying their first dance together as a married couple.
The couple, who were introduced by mutual friends, went public with their engagement in October last year.
Cawthorn said he’d never seen anyone who could do as many pull-ups as Cristina, a committed Crossfit athlete, and told how he spent months learning how to kneel so he could propose.
Bayardelle said they instantly ‘hit it off’ and she knew he ‘was the one’ after dating for just four months.
Cawthorn became a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, seen here meeting the former President at Mar-a-Lago in March this year
Cawthorn arriving at the US Capitol on March 11, where he has gained a reputation as a firebrand in regular Fox News appearances
Cawthorn won his Congress seat by defeating a Trump-endorsed opponent in the Republican primary, and then sweeping to victory against Democrat Moe Davis in a spiteful contest.
After his victory, he tweeted: ‘Cry more, Lib’.
Cawthorn gained regular appearances on cable news claiming that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen, and quickly became a favorite of Trump’s.
He spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on January 6, prior to the insurrection at the Capitol, which left five people, including police officer Brian Sicknick, dead.
In February, Buzzfeed revealed how former classmates of Cawthorn have claimed he sexually harassed women at a Christian college and that they were warned not to go on so-called ‘fun drives’ with him in his white Dodge Challenger ‘because bad things happened’.
Cawthorn allegedly gained a reputation around the campus for making unwanted sexual advances toward women when he briefly attended Patrick Henry College in northern Virginia for a semester aged 21, in 2016.
One woman described sensing a ‘danger warning’ when she went out for a drive with Cawthorn and he started ‘taking me out to the middle of nowhere’ while asking questions about her purity ring.
The happy couple announced their engagement in October last year. Cawthorn said he spent months learning how to kneel so he could propose
Bayardelle, seen with Cawthorn in a photo posted to her Instagram, is an elite Crossfit athlete and anesthesiologist assistant
Two resident assistants at the conservative religious college said they would warn young women to stay away from him and female students said they told each other not to end up alone with him.
The allegations surfaced in a Buzzfeed investigation, with more than 30 people including 20 former students, their friends and relatives alleging they witnessed, experienced or knew of sexual harassment and misconduct by the congressman around the college campus, at his nearby house and in his car.
The bombshell claims come after more than 160 members of the Patrick Henry College community signed an open letter in October describing the former student’s ‘reputation of predatory behavior.’
One woman, Katrina Krulikas, told World Magazine Cawthorn had forcibly kissed her in 2014 when he was 19 and she was 17.
Krulikas, who did not attend the Christian college, claimed they were on a drive together when Cawthorn started asking if she was a virgin.
She said he pressured her to sit on his lap, tried to kiss her and when she dismissed his advances tried again by holding her face.
Cawthorn denied the allegation in September but allegedly texted Krulikas last February apologizing that he was ‘over the line’.
Cawthorn allegedly gained a reputation around the campus for making unwanted sexual advances toward women when he briefly attended Patrick Henry College in northern Virginia (above) for a semester in 2016
Katrina Krulikas (above), told World Magazine Cawthorn had forcibly kissed her in 2014 when he was 19 and she was 17
Cawthorn, an avid Trump supporter, has denied ever acting in a sexually inappropriate way.
The North Carolina Republican came under fire last month over his part in the January 6 MAGA mob riot on the US Capitol that left five dead, after he spoke at the Trump rally moments before the violent insurrection.
He has also faced accusations of lying about his past, after claims he was training for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games were disputed by athletes and claims his car crash ruined his chances of attending the Naval Academy were debunked after a watchdog reported he was rejected from the academy prior to the accident.
Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was previously the youngest elected member of Congress in modern history at 29 years, 2 months and 22 days in 2018.
The youngest House member ever elected was William Charles Cole Claiborne of Tennessee, elected in 1797 at age 22.