A candidate for Congress has suspended his campaign after a Boulder Weekly inquiry into a domestic disturbance at his Firestone home last fall.
The candidate, Republican Bob Brancato, disputes the police account of the disturbance and says no charges were ever filed in the case. He has filed a petition to have the record sealed.
Brancato was taking on fellow Republican Stephen Bailey in the August primary, as both aim to unseat the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. Bailey bested Brancato in the May 21 Republican assembly 61 percent to 39 percent.
Brancato, a Firestone resident, is a private investigator, a medical marijuana proponent and a suicide-prevention volunteer. He won a $1.4 million settlement from the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2008 based on claims that he was sexually abused by his Roman Catholic priest as a child.
Acting on an anonymous tip from a reader, Boulder Weekly obtained a copy of a Firestone Police Department report detailing a Sept. 29, 2009, incident in which police were dispatched to the Brancato residence on a report of a “domestic problem.”
Brancato and his wife, Rochelle, told Boulder Weekly that the report contains inaccuracies, and that Rochelle only called 911 for medical assistance because her husband was having an episode of post-traumatic stress disorder due to his past sexual abuse.
But police, who responded to the house at 11:14 p.m. that night, said in the report that the two were having an argument. According to the report, Brancato, 41, said he asked his wife to leave the house, then blocked a stairwell so that she could not gather her belongings.
The report says Rochelle Brancato told police that her husband “chest-bumped her, causing her to backpedal into a computer that was lying on the floor.”
The report continues, “Rochelle stated Robert then placed his hands on the wall behind her, pinning her to the wall. Rochelle stated Robert told her he would not let her leave with the children. After approximately 30 seconds, Robert let her go and she went upstairs to call the police.”
Bob Brancato was arrested and transported to Weld County’s north jail complex in Greeley. The anticipated charge listed on the police report was “false imprisonment.”
The report says both admitted to drinking “4-5 beers” beforehand, which the Brancatos acknowledged in an interview with Boulder Weekly. The report also says that Rochelle Brancato declined to speak with a victim advocate and showed no marks of physical harm.
The Brancatos told Boulder Weekly that Rochelle drove to Greeley the next day and explained the situation to the assistant district attorney, who apologized and ensured that no charges were filed.
“There were no charges, there was no false imprisonment, there was no domestic abuse,” Rochelle Brancato says. “The cops showed up and put words in my mouth, and I went to the courthouse the next morning and explained it to the ADA, and it’s all gone. … There was no arguing, no chest-bumping.”
She says one of the 15 officers who responded was too aggressive in interrogating her about what had happened, demonstrating physically how her husband might have pinned her against the wall with his arms.
“He took me into the corner of the house and said, ‘He was pushing you, wasn’t he? He was arguing with you, wasn’t he?’” Rochelle Brancato says. “And at that point, I’m crying and saying, ‘Whatever, whatever, just take care of him and take him to the hospital.’”
Later in the interview, she told Boulder Weekly, “I was throwing stuff, OK? It was one of those nights that a lot of couples have. … [This was a] husband-and-wife deal that probably was not real cool, and the only time, and never since. And I love my husband, my husband is a very gentle man, and my husband has had very hard times. If he was a guy who would do stuff like that, I would not be with him.”
Bob Brancato says he never asked Rochelle to leave the house or prevented her from leaving.
“I was never leaving that night,” she agrees.
Asked if he ever had a previous domestic disturbance involving his two ex-wives, he said one former spouse filed a “false accusation” that was “completely dismissed.”
In an interview conducted with Brancato earlier in the week, prior to the release of the police report, the candidate had told Boulder Weekly that his only criminal history consisted of a disorderly conduct citation in Wisconsin at a New Year’s Eve party.
In a statement announcing the suspension of his campaign Tuesday night, Brancato said, "We have learned recently that liberal media outlets intend to share personal information concerning my family matters, which in turn will jeopardize their privacy and safety. While we understand that when you become a public figure your past is 'put out' for all to see, the line that is being crossed cannot be re-drawn in this case. I know for my part, I have run an outstanding campaign. We could have unseated the incumbent with true Republican values, as well as the real-life, not-so-pretty experiences I hoped to represent the district for. I look forward to supporting conservative causes and pray for continued Republican unity."
Firestone police did not respond to a request for comment, and Weld County officials could not provide documentation on the status of the Brancato case by press time.