A 19-year-old Democratic candidate, who confessed that he carried out abusive behavior toward multiple girls in middle school, won his primary race for the Kansas state House of Representatives. Community college student Aaron Coleman won his primary despite confessing that he engaged in "bullying, revenge porn, and blackmail."
Coleman defeated 13-year incumbent Stan Frownfelter, 823 to 809, in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary for the 37th District. The results were certified this week. There is no Republican challenger for the seat, which makes Coleman a near shoo-in for the November election.
However, Coleman has baggage that has his own party questioning whether he is fit to serve office. During the campaign, he told former Republican state lawmaker John Whitmer that he would "laugh and giggle when you get COVID and die," according to the Kansas City Star.
"In exercising my first amendment rights, earlier this week I crossed a boundary and offended people," Coleman said in an Aug. 1 apology. "After careful deliberation, I recognize I responded impulsively regarding a serious issue. For that I am sorry. Additionally, I apologize to the Democratic Party for my actions which are in no way a reflection of the party's ideals."
But there are far darker allegations against Coleman, who is accused of harassing girls online in middle school. The Kansas City Star released an editorial earlier this month that detailed the accusations against the progressive Democratic candidate.
"I was just in disbelief that another man that doesn't respect women is in power," said one of Coleman's alleged victims, who is now 18 years old.
The woman said Coleman's abuse included "calling me fat, telling me to kill myself, like I'm never going to find anyone, like I'm worthless, just downgrading me every day."
She claims that he sent her messages that read, "F*** you you f***ing ratchet fat s**t. F*** off whale. Go on a diet and get some braces."
She revealed that the abuse in sixth grade caused her to try to commit suicide.
"I tried to end my life," she said.
Another young woman alleged that Coleman attempted to extort her with one of her nude photos when they were in middle school five years ago.
"He got one of my nudes and blackmailed me with it and told me if I didn't send him more he would (send) it to all of my friends and family," she wrote on social media, according to the Star. "And when I didn't send him more, he sent it to everyone I knew."
The victim wasn't sure how Coleman obtained the naked photo of her.
"All I know is he's an awful person and he should not be allowed to run for anything," she stated.
In 2016, then-Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill to outlaw revenge porn in the state, making it illegal to post nude photos or videos of a person on the internet without his or her consent. The first offense is presumptive probation, and the second offense is felony blackmail with up to six years in prison.
Another young woman claimed that Coleman "harassed me for months, it got so bad that he found out my family's home phone and wouldn't stop calling it until we picked up."
On his Facebook page dedicated to his campaign, Coleman admitted to the accusations.
"The charges include: bullying, revenge porn, and blackmail — I just want to make clear all these allegations are both true and occurred only digitally," a June 17 post from The Aaron Coleman for Kansas Facebook page stated before it was deleted. "I denounce these actions and they are the actions of a sick and troubled 14-yo boy."
"I made serious mistakes in middle school and I deeply regret and apologize for them. I've grown up a great deal since then," Coleman told the Star editorial board in a statement.
In an email statement to the Associated Press, Coleman said the accusations were "accurate."
Coleman noted that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at the age of 15 because he was put "in a closet" during elementary school. Doug Powers, the assistant superintendent of the Kansas City-area school district where Coleman attended elementary school, has denied the allegations.
Coleman describes himself as a "proud feminist."
"I will work to repeal the bills my opponent passed that prohibit the civil rights of women," the candidate wrote in July. "Now more than ever, it is super important we have leaders who have dedicated their life to the advancement of women."
A spokesperson for Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told the Associated Press that Coleman is "not fit to serve in the Legislature."
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