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Getting Too Far Ahead of a Story

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There aren’t many Denver city races that are even competitive this year, which has made for a relatively quiet election season. But there’s an odd story out of Denver today that is hard to miss. As The Denver Post reports:

A Denver City Council candidate pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in 2003 after being accused of hitting a child, records show.

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Darrell Watson, who is running for the open District 8 council seat, received a deferred sentence for “wrongs to a minor,” according to police and court records.

Watson was taking care of the boy, and the child suffered bruises after Watson and the boy’s father spanked him. Both men were charged.

The boy’s mother, Lisa Buchholtz, reported the bruises as an incident of child abuse, according to a Denver police report. Buchholtz could not be reached Thursday evening. The report referred to the child’s father only as “Kevin.”

Obviously The Denver Post article is damaging, but Watson’s own explanation is what makes this story truly odd.

Here’s what Watson said in an e-mail distributed on Thursday:

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The facts of this story are simple. My partner, at the time, and I had custody of his six year old son and on the day in question, there was a disciplinary issue with the child. When “time out” did not work, I was instructed to spank the child, by both biological parents, while the father was present. As agreed in family counseling, the spanking was three swats with my bare hand on the child’s rear. After I spanked the child, the behavior did not change and the biological father then spanked the child again with three swats on the rear. On the following weekend visit with the biological mother, she said there was a small mark on the child’s rear end and she notified the authorities.

When my attorney stated this could and should be fought in court, I decided that it was more important to preserve my family, protect the child and to make this end.

I don’t know that I would say “the facts of this story are simple.” Frankly, I think the Post story was a lot simpler than the Watson explanation. “I was instructed to spank the child, by both biological parents, while the father was present.” Uh, what?

I understand that Watson was trying to get ahead of this story by sending out his explanation yesterday, but I think he might have gotten a little too far ahead of it. He may have turned it from a bad one-day story into a weird and bad story, and that combination is always more dangerous.

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