- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2016

DENVER — A teenage boy who stands up to his father for abusing his mother is often commended for being courageous, but not Darryl Glenn.

Instead, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Colorado has been accused of lying about his past, based on a 1983 incident in which he was charged by Colorado Springs police with hitting his father — a charge that was ultimately dropped.

Supporters of Mr. Glenn have decried the media pile-on as a politically motivated “gotcha” attack that has misfired by showcasing Mr. Glenn’s heroism under wrenching circumstances.

“There was domestic violence in his house, and he was trying to protect his mother,” said Laura Carno, who runs the conservative group I Am Created Equal in Colorado Springs.

“I actually don’t care whether he was arrested or not for that. I would be grateful to have someone in the Senate who stood up for his mother against an abusive father,” Ms. Carno said. “So I think this could backfire on them because I think the way Darryl Glenn handled the response to that made him look like kind of a hero. It makes him more relatable to people who’ve been through stuff like that.”

The criticism has centered on Mr. Glenn’s initial denial that he was arrested the night of Nov. 20, 1983, a month after he turned 18. The candidate later said there may have been a mix-up with his half-brother or another man with the same name with whom he was sometimes confused.

Shortly thereafter, The Denver Post hired a handwriting analyst who confirmed that the signature on the 33-year-old court record was Mr. Glenn‘s.

Last month, after speaking with his 76-year-old mother, Juanita Phillips, Mr. Glenn released a statement saying he had blocked from his mind the incident along with other painful memories of growing up in a home wracked by domestic violence.

“Here’s what I do know now about that night: My father hit my mother, and I got between them to try and protect her,” Mr. Glenn said in a statement.

“The police were called. He claimed to the police that I hit him. I do not believe I ever hit him. My mother swears I did not hit him either, but it wouldn’t have been beyond him at the time to claim I did. I do not remember ever talking to a police officer. I certainly do not remember signing anything for the police,” he said.

His father, Ernest Glenn, who died in 2006, dropped the charge against his teenage son shortly after the incident. Darryl Glenn, 50, said he had buried the memory before reporters asked him about it on the campaign trail.

“Years later, when a reporter asked me if I had ever been arrested, I said no because I honestly did not remember this event. When I expressed a belief that I had never been arrested, I was being honest,” said Mr. Glenn.

The episode has touched off a back-and-forth that has played out primarily on the pages of Colorado newspapers and political websites.

“Some Glenn supporters are taking his back, saying that a case from 1983, when Glenn was 18 years old, isn’t fair game,” The Denver Post, the state’s largest daily newspaper, said in a June 27 editorial.

“We likely would have agreed with this criticism had Glenn been more forthcoming from the outset. But how a candidate for higher office — and he’s running for the U.S. Senate — handles mistakes or potential scandals is serious business,” said the editorial. “His actions speak to his judgment, and his denial suggests he has trouble dealing with basic facts.”

The left-wing website ColoradoPols said in a July 27 post: “All we have now is Darryl Glenn rather obviously lying. And no matter what brought us here, that’s a story.”

After Mr. Glenn released his explanation, the liberal Colorado Springs Independent, which published the first account of the arrest, ran an article headlined, “Darryl Glenn regains memory of assault charge, sort of.”

In a second editorial dated June 28, The Denver Post editorial board called it “astonishing” and “difficult to believe that he could have forgotten such a night until this week.”

As someone caught in a household where domestic violence was a regular occurrence, Mr. Glenn said, the episode was easily forgotten.

“I understand why some people might say, ‘How can he not remember something like this?’” Mr. Glenn said.

But “when you grow up in a violent home, the fights, the screaming, the pain all blur together. To survive, you block as much of it out of your head as you can in the moment,” he said. “You try to forget it going forward. What happened that night was one in a long series of incidents between my parents. In that sense, it was not really memorable.”

The conservative website Colorado Peak Politics accused The Post of running a “despicable hit piece” about a “political non-scandal,” and The Colorado Springs Gazette ran an editorial last week headlined, “Media on witch hunt to get Darryl Glenn.”

“Maybe he dodged questions to spare his mother the embarrassment of having an old family secret dragged into public. Maybe he hoped to protect his dead father’s memory. Whatever his motive, anyone can see the political benefit of highlighting a successful life against a turbulent childhood,” said The Gazette. “That Glenn did not long ago exploit his tragic past for political gain suggests any memory of it is painful.”

Alan Davis, CEO of the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence, said those who grow up in homes with domestic violence often “put it out of their minds” or “dissemble” when asked for details.

“People in their lives who have incidents going on — to survive and live a reasonably normal life, they try very hard to forget about it,” said Mr. Davis.

The incident gives more weight to Mr. Glenn’s life story: After serving as junior and senior class president at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, he entered the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he became a national power-lifting champion, put himself through law school and went on to a 21-year career as an officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

Mr. Glenn was elected to two terms on the Colorado Springs City Council and another two on the El Paso County Commission before winning the June 28 Senate primary in a five-candidate Republican field.

Colorado Democrats, including Mr. Glenn’s opponent, Sen. Michael Bennet, have said nothing publicly about the flap.

“I think the ultimate outcome not only did not hurt him, but probably in some ways helped him, because it told more about his life story and the things he overcame in order to graduate from the Air Force Academy and become an elected official in Colorado Springs,” said Republican strategist Dick Wadhams, who is not involved in the campaign.

“I think it’s unfortunate that he seemed to send some mixed signals at the beginning of this issue,” Mr. Wadhams said. “And I don’t know if that’s a result if him not being used to the glare of something of the magnitude of a U.S. Senate general election, which is much bigger than even the primary, or if it was just something he really didn’t want to talk about, which would be perfectly understandable.”

The episode also has drawn accusations of bias from Republicans who point to the 2014 Colorado race for the U.S. Senate in which Democrat Mark Udall’s drug arrest as a 21-year-old was scarcely mentioned.

“The big difference between Darryl Glenn and Mark Udall is that clearly Darryl Glenn did nothing wrong,” Mr. Wadhams said. “It’s pretty clear that Darryl was pulled into a very bad situation trying to defend his mother, and the only thing that muddled it was his reluctance to talk about it when it was first raised.”

Mr. Glenn, who spoke last month at the Republican National Convention, also called for doing more to help the estimated 17,000 victims of domestic violence annually in Colorado.

(Corrected paragraph:) “In our family, we’ve stopped the cycle of violence,” said Mr. Glenn, who is divorced with two daughters. “I pray the same for other Colorado families confronting abuse in the home. They need to know they are not alone, that they do not need to be ashamed and that there is help for them.”

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