Brainard combats domestic violence accusations

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Controversial City Council member-elect Rick Brainard speaks out about domestic violence accusations against him and his upcoming term, and KKCO 11 News has the exclusive interview.

On April 6, Brainard was arrested for a domestic violence dispute with his live-in girlfriend. An arrest affidavit says he hit the woman in the face when the two were arguing.

Since then, protesters at various rallies have called for Brainard's resignation from his council seat, and the lame-duck Grand Junction City Council even passed a resolution to ask him to step down.

Wednesday, Brainard released a statement defending himself in the case.

KKCO 11 News will have an exclusive interview with Brainard tonight at 5:30 p.m. and at 10 p.m. You can also look for the full interview on this web story after the 10 p.m. broadcast.

Here's the full release:

Grand Junction City Councilor-elect Rick Brainard was arrested April 6 by the Grand Junction Police Department after an altercation between he and then girlfriend Cindy Franzen.

“I want more than anything to apologize to Cindy, to my mother, my friends, to my supporters and to the community for my behavior that night.

“I was afraid,” Brainard says about the night Franzen attacked him, admitting that he felt he had tried everything he knew to do to calm her rage, begging her to “shut her mouth and stop it” before he slapped her and fled his home.

“I’m so ashamed of that,” he says.

“She was very jealous. We’d talked about that back when I was thinking of running for City Council to make sure she was okay with it, knowing that it would take a lot of my time and that I would be working with other women. She wasn’t very comfortable with the idea at first, but then she made it clear to me that it was okay. I thought that was the end of it when it came to the election.

“But on election night at the Blue Moon, every time a woman came up to me and gave me a hug and congratulations, Cindy got madder by the minute. The last straw was when Christopher Tomlinson of the Daily Sentinel snapped a photo of me when another woman walked over to me. Cindy was furious that he didn’t take a photo of me with her instead. She then tried to pick a fight with the woman in the photo.

“By the time we got home, she was enraged, accusing me of sleeping with the woman in the photo, telling me that she better not see that photo in the paper. I had an early flight to catch the next morning. I just wanted out of there. I should’ve gotten a later flight, but I just wanted out of there. I realize a better prepared man would have just cancelled the flight. I wasn’t.”

The next day the photo appeared in the newspaper. “Cindy was furious.”

“For the next three days we sent a lot of text messages back and forth. By the end of the three days, we both realized it just wasn’t working. We agreed to remain friends and that she would move into the guest room until the end of May when she would get her own place.

“I was heartbroken; I had somehow failed to show her that she was number one; failed to help her feel secure in our relationship.

“When I arrived back home from Florida late that Friday night, I was glad to see that she was calm and seemed to be okay; that we could be friends. Exhausted, I went to my bedroom, closed the door and went to bed.

“Suddenly she entered my room, climbed onto the bed next to me, hugged me and said she was sorry that it didn’t work out. I did the same and she quietly left the room.

“But, a few minutes later, she was back and not so friendly. She jumped on my bed and grabbed my phone. I tried to wrestle it away from her, but decided it wasn’t that important and let her have the phone.

“She started flipping through my emails and texts asking me who the women were. I explained they were supporters congratulating me on the election, but she was getting madder. I reminded her that we had agreed to end our relationship and I would be more comfortable if she left me alone and that I was tired from the flight. She slammed my phone at the wall leaving a hole in the drywall, then stormed out.

“I got up immediately, locked the door, and went back to bed. A few minutes later, she picked the lock, threw open the door and came at me so fast I could barely react. She grabbed for my phone again and reacting to the sudden attack, I pushed her off of me and got out of bed as fast as I could and headed for the door. She came after me demanding to know who I was sleeping with while trying to get my phone. I pushed her out the door and locked it again.

“I locked myself in rather than leave right away because of what happened in December when I walked away from her rage. We were in her car talking when she exploded in one of her violent rages. I didn’t know what to do, so I pulled over and got out of the car to get away, but failed to get the keys out of the ignition before she jumped into the driver’s seat and sped down the street, crashing into another car resulting in their injury and totaling her car. I felt like it was my fault that she was enraged so I hired the attorney to represent her on the DUI.

“So, yes, I kept locking myself in the bedroom, thinking she would eventually calm down. But instead of calming down she was moving from anger to rage. I was completely exhausted.

“When she picked the lock and came at me the third time I told her I was leaving. While shouting accusations that I wanted to defend against, still ranting she lit a cigarette and we went outside. I knew the neighbors would hear her and hoped that would be enough to get her to calm down.

“But she got louder and by then was in a full blown rage. I begged her to stop. She was violently out of control. I was no longer processing beyond wanting it to stop at that point. I did not have the experience or the tools to know what to do. But I’m starting to learn some of them now through counseling.

“I was in love with Cindy. I still am on some level. I wanted to make her happy. I could tell she’d been through some tough times and I wanted to help her as I had done before, to protect her, to give her a better life. I knew she’d been in abusive relationships before because of the domestic violence charges she filed against the men in her previous relationships.

“I wanted her to know that not all men are like that. I would do whatever I could, or so I thought at the time, to fix in myself what was making her so violently angry. I just never knew what would trigger it, so I wasn’t sure what to fix in myself.

“I wish the first time it happened that I’d said ‘let’s go talk to someone; let’s get some counseling together to help us’ because she was that important to me and I knew I was not prepared for her rage,” but I didn’t, I was too prideful.

“When she attacked my friends, if I stepped between them, she would turn on me because I wasn’t siding with her. One by one my friends stopped coming around.

“The more I am learning about domestic abuse, the more I realize how complex and widespread it is; how confusing it is to love someone and see their goodness while trying to accept their capacity for violence and abuse. I hate that my own fear and inability to calm her resulted in my slapping her before I left.

“Counseling is tough. As much as I want to, as much as I love her, I’ve had to accept that I can’t change what happened. And I can’t fix Cindy. I can only work on fixing myself and gaining the tools I need to better manage situations where someone is out of control.

“What I didn’t know before, that I’m learning now, is just how pervasive domestic violence is in our community. There are good organizations with professional staff and dedicated volunteers in our community who are ready to help any of us caught up in a relationship where there is abuse.

“But what about prevention? That’s where I am at this point in my counseling. What could I have done to prevent her rage? What could I have done to avoid the situation entirely? I don’t have these answers yet, but I am hoping through continued counseling I will.

“Why aren’t we discussing this more openly as a community so others aren’t caught off guard by it when it happens to them; so that victims and abusers are better prepared to avoid it? After my arrest, friends who had been attacked by Cindy over the past few months told me they were not surprised by what happened, and that they predicted it would happen. Would I have listened if they’d told me that months ago? I honestly don’t know.

“I am not withdrawing from my City Council seat unless the voters through the legal petition process make that decision for me.

“And my first priority on Council is to take the domestic violence problem in our community out of the shadows and into the light; to take it from angry lynch mobs on the courthouse steps to focused problem-solving sessions for developing prevention strategies.

“I didn’t have the tools I needed to deal with abuse in my relationship with Cindy; and I’ve seen enough statistics these past few weeks to know there are a lot more people out there in abusive relationships who aren’t prepared or don’t know what to do. We can change that. I’m working on mine.

“I hope you can see that I take these charges against me seriously and am doing everything I can to become a better person and learn from my mistakes.

“As I said in my previous statement, I knew when I decided to run for public office that public service also means public scrutiny. Just as I promised during the campaign to listen and consider all sides of challenging issues before making policy decisions, I hope the citizens in our community will grant the same to me throughout this process.”

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