Kansas state Rep. Aaron Coleman pleads not guilty to domestic violence charge

Johnson County District Judge James Phelan agreed to release Coleman from the Johnson County jail on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.

by Dan Margolies, KCUR and Kansas News Service

Kansas Rep. Aaron Coleman entered a plea of not guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Johnson County District Court on Monday.

The first-term Democrat was accused in a criminal complaint of a single count of causing bodily harm to, or having physical contact with, a family member. Although not identified in the complaint, it appears the family member was his brother.

Coleman did not appear at his arraignment, which was conducted via Zoom. His attorney, David Bell, entered the not guilty plea on his behalf. At Bell’s request, Johnson County District Judge James Phelan agreed to release Coleman from the Johnson County jail on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.

Phelan also ordered Coleman to appear for a Dec. 22 hearing on the court’s diversion docket. The docket is intended to give offenders who commit a relatively minor offense a second chance. Phelan also ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Coleman, 21, was arrested Saturday night and booked into the Johnson County jail in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Both Coleman’s brother and grandfather, who were present via Zoom at Monday’s arraignment, told Phelan that they were not afraid of Coleman and were fine having contact with him after his release from jail. Phelan, however, ordered Coleman not to have contact with his brother or grandfather for the first 72 hours after his release.

The incident for which Coleman was arrested took place at his grandfather’s house. No details about what happened emerged at the arraignment, but the criminal complaint signed by Assistant District Attorney Andrew J. Jennings lists as witnesses “Shawnee Mission medical personnel,” suggesting that the incident required medical intervention.

Coleman has a history of misconduct and making alleged threats against women. Soon after he won an upset primary victory in 2020 against Rep. Stan Frownfelter and went on to win the general election for House District 37, which includes parts of Kansas City, Kansas, he faced calls for his ouster. A legislative probe earlier this year resulted in an informal letter of warning.

Last month, the Kansas Department of Labor warned him to stay away from the agency’s headquarters after it said he tried to get into parts of the building restricted to agency employees.

Coleman once threatened to shoot a high school student and has admitted to online bullying and leaking revenge porn when he was a middle-school student. An ex-girlfriend has accused him of slapping and choking her, and he was the subject of a temporary no-contact order issued by a Wyandotte County judge last year after Frownfelter’s campaign manager accused him of harassment. The order was dismissed after Coleman and the campaign manager came to an agreement.

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See more at https://www.kcur.org/news/2021-11-01/kansas-state-rep-aaron-coleman-of-kansas-city-kansas-pleads-not-guilty-to-domestic-violence-charge.

Kansas state Rep. Coleman arrested, jailed on domestic violence allegation

House Democratic leader calls arrest ‘extremely disturbing news’

by Tim Carpenter, Kansas News Service

Topeka — State Rep. Aaron Coleman was booked into the Johnson County Jail on Sunday on a charge of domestic battery.

Johnson County Jail records indicate he was placed into custody without bond and was scheduled to make a court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer, who previously demanded Coleman resign, said the arrest of Coleman was “extremely disturbing news” and he said the next step was to gather facts of what allegedly occurred.

“His constituents and the state of Kansas would be better served if he were to resign and get the help he badly needs,” Sawyer said. “However, I want to reiterate again that the House Democratic caucus does not condone this behavior in any way, shape or form.”

Coleman, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kansas, previously apologized for a series of incidents during his childhood that involved online bullying, revenge porn, blackmail and death threats.

In October, he confirmed he was banned from offices of the Kansas Department of Labor after insisting that he be allowed inside a Topeka office. He said he was seeking to help constituents with problems getting unemployment benefits. In addition, he said his status as a state legislator ought to allow the Department of Labor to lower its security protocol.

In the 2020 election, Coleman defeated seven-term incumbent Democratic state Rep. Stan Frownfelter, losing to the teenager by 14 votes. Coleman easily won the general election in the Wyandotte County district.

His underdog campaign centered on adoption of the Green New Deal, legalizing marijuana, expanding Medicare services, women’s rights, free college tuition and reallocating police budgets. He was a fan of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the former candidate for president.

During that 2020 race, Coleman generated controversy by declaring he would find it amusing if people who refused to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic died as a result.

A Wyandotte County judge issued a temporary anti-stalking order against Coleman in 2020 that applied to Frownfelter’s campaign manager.

After Coleman won the House seat, seven female Democratic legislators signed a letter urging Coleman to resign. Coleman declined to quit. A subsequent Kansas House inquiry into his behavior led by Republican lawmakers resulted in issuance of a reprimand. Democratic leadership also refused to assign him to House committees.

Coleman had campaigned for Kansas governor as a write-in independent candidate in 2018. A year later he sought a seat on the Board of Public Utilities in in Kansas City, Kansas.

In 2015, Coleman was arrested at age 14 for threatening to shoot a girl at another high school. He entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor harassment. A former girlfriend of Coleman’s said in 2019 that he choked her twice and urged her to commit suicide.

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See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2021/10/31/kansas-state-rep-coleman-arrested-jailed-on-domestic-violence-allegation/.

Defendants charged in connection with forced labor of minor victims

A federal grand jury in the District of Kansas has returned an eight-count indictment against eight defendants for their alleged roles in a forced labor conspiracy that victimized numerous minors who, between 2000 and 2012, worked in various food service and other businesses in Kansas and around the United States.

The indictment alleged that from 2000 through 2012, the defendants participated in running an organization called the United Nation of Islam (UNOI), an organization founded by the now deceased Royall Jenkins. The UNOI is alleged to have subjected multiple minors employed at UNOI-operated businesses in Kansas, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and elsewhere, to forced labor.

The indictment charge eight individuals with conspiracy to commit forced labor and forced labor: Kaaba Majeed, age 47, Jonesboro, Georgia; Yunus Rassoul, age 36, Cape Coral, Florida; James Staton, age 59, Fayetteville, North Carolina; Daniel Aubrey Jenkins, age 40; Lawrenceville, Georgia; Randolph Rodney Hadley, age 46, Fairburn, Georgia; Jacelyn Greenwell, age 42, Severn, Maryland; Etenia Kinard, age 46, Waldorf, Maryland; and Dana Peach, age 57, Clinton, Maryland.

The indictment alleges that over the course of more than a decade, the defendants coerced the victims into physically demanding labor at various UNOI-owned businesses around the United States.

The defendants allegedly used coercive tactics, such as separating victims from their families; withholding food; abusing victims physically and verbally; subjecting victims to crowded living conditions; psychological manipulation; degrading treatment; isolating victims and limiting their ability to interact with anyone outside of UNOI; and suggesting to victims that those who left UNOI met tragic consequences. Although the victims were school-aged, it is alleged the defendants did not provide them with an adequate or legitimate education.
The defendants will be arraigned at a later date in Kansas City, Kansas.

Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties: forced labor with a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 and conspiracy to commit forced labor with a penalty of up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General and Wage and Hour Division. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Huschka for the District of Kansas and Trial Attorneys Vasantha Rao and Kate Alexander of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.