Randolph police chief back in court

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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) Randolph's police chief, accused of assaulting his wife, returned to court Friday. Prosecutors argued to allow new evidence they said would shed light on the chief's past conduct.

Forty-nine year-old Daniel Brunelle has spent years sending criminals to court. But now the Randolph Police Chief is in the defendant's chair himself, charged with two counts of domestic assault for allegedly shoving his wife during fights.

Craig Nolan, Brunelle's lawyer addressed the judge saying, "we think these charges have no merit. We think this case should never have been charged."

But prosecutors stand by their charges. "This is a he said, she said case," said Washington County State's Attorney Scott Williams. He argued to allow testimony from the chief's alleged victim, which they say will show a pattern of physical and controlling conduct. "The broader picture of why a husband would suddenly assault his wife after years of being in a blissful marriage."

Williams says their evidence will show the chief told allegedly told his victim that nobody would believe her because he is a cop. He also says his wife may have lied about earlier abuse during a background check for the Randolph job in hope that things would get better.

Brunelle's defense has played down the misdemeanor charges, arguing the state only charged the chief because of his law enforcement role. After Brunelle's arrest, Randolph put him on paid administrative leave. But a town manager, who has since stepped down, later reinstated him.

Brunelle leads a small department with only about half a dozen officers. We wanted to know if he would be responding to domestic incidents.

Reporter Tyler Dumont: Is the chief still responding to domestic calls?
Craig Nolan: We're not going to have a comment today.

And how could that impact victims of domestic assault in town? Officials at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence wouldn't comment on this particular case, but they do say a generic policy for officers accused of domestic violence has been adopted by many departments, even ones as small as Randolph. "The idea is the policy requires the jurisdiction to immediately remove them from active duty. It usually puts them at a desk," said the network's Karen Toronsgard-Scott.

Randolph's new town manager, Adolpho Bailon, says he does not believe the town's police department has embraced a similar policy for its officers.

Brunelle has denied ever laying a hand on his wife.