ROSSVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Vermilion County Treasurer and Republican Congressional District 15 candidate Darren Duncan says he’s speaking out against “dirty politics” after an opponent researcher filed a Freedom of Information Act Request that unearthed a police report detailing an alleged act of domestic violence against his wife 19 years ago.
A campaign spokesperson on Monday requested an interview with WCIA — 13 days after Duncan’s wife signed an affidavit retracting her 2001-era statements to police.
Natalie Duncan, who is a current Vermilion County board member, filed the complaint against her husband on February 22, 2001, while she and their two daughters stayed with her family; WCIA obtained a copy of that complaint.
According to that report, Duncan and his wife were driving in their car that on the afternoon of February 17 when they began arguing “over something that had been lost.”
His wife “stated during this argument, Ducan hit her with the back of his hand in her nose and left side of her face,” the report reads. She “advised this is not the first time this has occurred. She stated they have been married approximately five years, and it has been on and off over the last four and a half years, where she has been hit on occasion. (She) stated she is done with it and she is wanting to get an order of protection against Darren. She stated that is why she wanted the report done.”
But after filing the initial complaint with police, Duncan’s wife did not press charges or follow through with the request for the protective order.
In an interview Friday, Natalie Duncan called the move “irrational” and said she had been motivated by “anger” and “panic” that she would be criminally charged for taking her two daughters with her to stay at her parents’ house.
“It was something I think, when you’re 23 and a little bit dramatic, you sometimes do things in haste that you later regret,” she said. “None of that was true. That was just something I made up to kind of give myself protection in case later I was then questioned about why I left, so none of that was true. I mentioned the prior instances (of abuse) because I was trying to build a case for later if something was to transpire in our relationship. I was trained to make a case to protect myself.”
When asked why she never retracted her statements to police prior to her husband’s Congressional run, Natalie Duncan said she didn’t know the report existed at all.
“I made the phone call — it was so quick,” she said. “It was brief and I forgot about it. We were fine… It’s never been an issue. There was no reason to ever revisit that until they found this in the FOIA. There was no reason to address this issue.”
Duncan said it had been a “shock” to learn of the police report, adding that he had not been aware of it until “2-3 weeks ago.”
On January 14, Natalie Duncan signed an affidavit, saying the “statements (she) previously made to authorities were false” and that she “react(s) all statements (she) made during the phone call with authorities.”
Duncan cited “where we’re at in politics today” as the reason behind the affidavit.
“Initially, we found out that there was this whisper campaign in the background so we knew, just from a political sense, that we would have to deal with it,” he said. “I know we started thinking this was upsetting that this is where we’re at in politics — that because I wanted to run for Congress, someone wanted to investigate every corner of my life and therefore, my family’s life.”
Filing a false police report is a felony and could result in a prison sentence of 1-3 years; because the statute of limitations is three years, Natalie Duncan is not at risk of being charged.
“Truth of the matter is we have started taking measures to have that removed from my record,” Ducan said. “Had I known over the last nearly 20 years that that existed, we would have had it removed a long time ago because there was no substance to it.”
WCIA reached out to the seven other candidates joining Duncan in the race for outgoing Republican John Shimkus’ seat; all candidates declined to comment except for Republican Charles Ellington.
“These allegations are very troubling,” Ellington said in an email statement. “I am praying for the Duncan family and all victims of domestic violence. …I plan to run a purely positive campaign focused on the issues revolving around healthcare, taxes, energy and the economy.”
Democrat Craig Morton could not be reached for comment; Democrats Erika Weaver, John Hursey Jr. and Kevin Gaither all declined to comment, as did Republicans Mary Miller and Kerry Wolff.
Duncan joins those candidates in vying for the seat vacated by outgoing Republican John Shimkus.
In addition to assuming the position of Vermilion County Treasurer in 2017, Ducan also served two terms on the Rossville-Alvin school board and two years on the Vermilion County Board.