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Colorado Springs Senate candidate Darryl Glenn opens up about growing up in abusive home

July 30, 2016 Updated: July 30, 2016 at 5:41 pm
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Darryl Glenn, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Colorado, speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

DENVER - By now much of Colorado knows that Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn grew up in a house plagued by domestic violence.

It's a secret he guarded so closely while growing up in Colorado Springs even his closest friends at Doherty High School didn't know the class president went home to a violent father.

Now at 50, Glenn is addressing the issue under duress.

"There was some question about whether I was being clear or not," Glenn told The Gazette. "While you don't like to talk about what happens within your home, I think it was important to kind of let people inside to see how it was like that. It was a constant state of having to deal with those types of circumstances."

Glenn said he and his 76-year-old mother, Juanita, never talked about the violence or the night in November 1983 when police were called to her husband's bar because of an altercation that involved Glenn, his mother and his father.

He said he doesn't think he hit his dad, and his mother swears he didn't.

Glenn said that trauma is why he didn't remember he was charged with third-degree assault for hitting his father in 1983, or that he had made a court appearance in the case before the charges were dropped a month later.

Even after The Denver Post dredged up the court records showing that Glenn's father accused the then-18-year-old of punching him in the face, Glenn suggested it was someone else with his same name or even his half-brother, Cedric.

"My initial reaction was, I don't, and still don't understand or even comprehend what was going on at the time," Glenn said. "I am still cloudy on a lot of issues that happened at the time. When you're dealing with that on a daily basis, you survive. This is about survival."

But he said in an open letter to the media that his father hit his mother, and he got between them.

The police were called and charges were pressed. Ernest Glenn Jr., who died in 2008, also faced assault charges that night, according to records pulled by the Colorado Springs Independent.

Glenn said he doesn't want to politicize the issue of domestic violence but hopes sharing his story now that the issue has become public will help others in similar situations.

"I tell people that there is a way out and it's tough," Glenn said. "I guess my advice would be for people that are outside of the family situation to just make yourself available in case they ever want to talk."

The statistics on domestic violence are staggering.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.3 percent of adult women have experienced "severe physical violence" from an intimate partner. The rate for men is 14.3 percent. A 2008 study found that 45 percent of female homicide victims in the United States were targeted by intimate partners.

Glenn also knows about that very worst outcome.

In the early 1990s, his half-brother Cedric shot his partner and then killed himself. The victim survived.

Glenn, who has two adult daughters, didn't want to get into details to protect the victim, but he said that incident was a continuation of the violence his family had come to know.

"It's part of the whole spectrum of the chaos that was there," Glenn said. "What I've done with my daughters, I have been fully committed to breaking the cycle. I knew that being blessed to be a parent - particularly a parent of daughters - it has been my personal mission in life to give them the tools to make sure they can be well-grounded, functional, strong women."

Glenn says he doesn't blame the media for reporting the story in a gotcha fashion.

"They feel like they are doing their job," he said. "It's important for me to be clear that I did not know what was going on. I'm just thankful to have gotten out of that situation."

The spectrum of doubt about whether Glenn was trying to hide the assault charge could hurt his campaign, a political expert said.

"The fact that he's denied it makes him additionally vulnerable," said Bob Loevy, Colorado College political science professor emeritus. "Every story of this nature counts. And, unfortunately, when you defend yourself you have to repeat the original charge. People who didn't hear about it the first time will hear about it when they read your defense."

Loevy said Glenn's campaign should handle the issue quickly and drive home the fact that it happened a long time ago, Glenn was young and that Glenn went on to graduate from the Air Force Academy and become a college powerlifting champion.

"Unfortunately, in this day and age, this is what campaigns become about," Loevy said.

Voters attending the Donald Trump rally on Friday who had heard about Glenn's record and his subsequent responses weren't concerned.

"He was a young man. He was from an abusive home," said Marcia Murphy of Colorado Springs.

Lee Schermerhorn, who lives south of Pueblo, said he didn't care.

"It happened 30 years ago," he said. "This is the kind of person we want representing us in the U.S. Senate and in Colorado."

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Contact Megan Schrader: 286-0644

Twitter @CapitolSchrader

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