Domestic violence arrests casts shadow over judge’s race

Oct 8, 2022, 2:23 PM | Updated: 2:58 pm

MUSKEGON, Mich (AP) — A Michigan judicial candidate is facing domestic assault charges partly based on video footage suggesting he hit his girlfriend repeatedly with a belt, prompting local domestic violence advocates to actively speak out against his candidacy.

The candidate’s girlfriend and his attorney deny that he actually struck her.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Jason Kolkema was arraigned on the misdemeanor charges in mid-September. Kolkema, a 51-year-old attorney running for Muskegon County’s 14th Circuit Court judicial seat, contends he was striking a chair with a belt and not his girlfriend as suggested by the video shot by an office worker in a building neighboring Kolkema’s apartment.

“I understand that the optics are bad. I understand the anger and disappointment, especially from the people who voted for me and supported me … All of the facts will be revealed in due time,” Kolkema wrote on Facebook in response to a comment.

Kolkema has declined to comment to the newspaper, instead referring questions to his girlfriend. His attorney, Terry Nolan, told WOOD-TV in September that Kolkema did not strike his girlfriend and said the incident shouldn’t disqualify him from seeking a seat on the bench.

The woman, who is not identified in the Free Press reporting, told the newspaper she was wearing a headset and that Kolkema struck the chair’s armrest to get her attention. The woman said she took some blame for the incident, writing to the Free Press that “it was rude of me to ignore him.”

The newspaper found court and police records describing earlier violent confrontations involving Kolkema and his girlfriend.

One incident came two days before the videotaped belt strikes. According to Ottawa County court records, Kolkema allegedly spit at the woman’s 12-year-old daughter, threw water on them followed by a Gatorade bottle which missed them but hit a lamp.

Three months earlier, the woman reported to Fruitport police that Kolkema had slapped her. When officers arrived, the girlfriend recanted and Kolkema told police that she “gets like this when she is drunk … and makes things up.”

The woman told the Free Press that Kolkema has never hurt her or her daughter.

“He never beat me,” she wrote. “He’s not scary or threatening as a person … Just boisterous, animated.”

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, whose office charged Kolkema with misdemeanor domestic assault in the filmed Aug. 18 incident, said it doesn’t matter if Kolkema actually struck his girlfriend that day.

“Domestic violence includes violence that can either be physical, or threatened,” he told the newspaper. “Contact is not required.”

Kolkema’s trial is not scheduled to begin until nearly two weeks after the Nov. 8 election. The footage and subsequent media attention have triggered intense debate in western Michigan.

“I cannot imagine a victim sitting in front of a ‘Jason Kolkema’ and asking him to protect her from an assailant,” said Muskegon resident Heather Fry, who is a domestic abuse survivor and victim’s advocate.

Whatever happened, the scene that unfolded on the video shows “a violent act meant to instill fear,” Fry said.

Supporters on Kolkema’s social media pages have offered support, saying that he deserves the presumption of innocence and that his life should not be destroyed for “one mistake.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...
Associated Press

OPEC+ oil producers face uncertainty over Russian sanctions

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel and allied producing countries, including Russia, are expected to decide how much oil to supply to the global economy amid weakening demand in China and uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. The […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Vandalism suspected in North Carolina power outage

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina believe vandalism may have caused a power outage that affected thousands of customers Saturday night. A mass power outage in several communities beginning just after 7 p.m. Saturday “is being investigated as a criminal occurrence,” the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. “As […]
6 hours ago
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, plays with children who have been d...
Associated Press

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The head of U.S. intelligence says fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces could have brighter prospects in coming months. Avril Haines alluded to past allegations by some that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisers could be shielding him from bad news — […]
6 hours ago
A man wearing a face mask holds his testing tube as masked residents line up for their routine COVI...
Associated Press

China reports 2 new COVID deaths as some restrictions eased

HONG KONG (AP) — China on Sunday reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations. The National Health Commission said one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. No information was given about the ages of the victims or […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

State news: Iran executed 4 people it says spied for Israel

CAIRO (AP) — Iranian authorities executed four people Sunday accused of working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, the state-run IRNA news agency said. Three others received lengthy prison sentences. IRNA said the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard announced the arrests of a network of people linked to the Israeli agency. It said the members had previous […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 4, the “Million Dollar Quartet”

Today in History Today is Sunday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2022. There are 27 days left in the year. Today’s Highlights in History: On Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered for the first and only time for a jam session at Sun Records in Memphis. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Domestic violence arrests casts shadow over judge’s race