Kansas lawmaker charged with battery, mental exam ordered
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A freshman Kansas lawmaker who has acknowledged past abuses against girls and young women was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation Monday after he was charged with domestic battery in a disturbance involving his brother at his grandfather’s home.
Magistrate Judge James Phelan said Democratic state Rep. Aaron Coleman of Kansas City could be freed on a personal recognizance bond, without putting up a deposit or collateral. The hearing was held via Zoom and Coleman didn’t appear because he is receiving medical care. No information was provided about his health status and Coleman’s attorney, David Bell, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking details.
Overland Park police arrested the 21-year-old Saturday evening.
Bell entered a plea of not guilty. He said the allegations involved two family members at the home of Coleman’s grandfather, Ronald Tomberlin.
Tomberlin and Coleman’s brother, both spoke on the call and said they weren’t afraid of the lawmaker.
“Judge, I have spoken to his mother and we are going to seek help for Mr. Coleman to help him with some of the issues that he is facing,” Bell said.
Phelan set his next court appearance for Dec. 22 and gave Coleman 21 days to undergo a mental health evaluation and follow the recommendations of a mental health specialist.
Coleman’s grandmother, Marsha Tomberlin, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that the dispute was over “religious beliefs.” She said Coleman also accused his brother of stealing his phone to call the police. No further details were provided.
The Associated Press filed records requests for the probable cause affidavit, but it wasn’t immediately available. The police incident report provided no details about what the dispute was over and the grandmother’s phone number wasn’t listed.
It wasn’t immediately clear what consequences Coleman might face in the House.
“Given what little we know about the situation, I am concerned for everyone involved,” Speaker of the House, Ron Ryckman said in a weekend statement. “I know that law enforcement will thoroughly investigate and assess the situation so that we can take appropriate action.”
House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer issued a statement urging Coleman to resign and calling his arrest “extremely disturbing.”
After he was elected last year, Coleman received a written reprimand from a legislative committee about his conduct before taking office. The House committee’s investigation of Coleman followed accusations of abusive behavior toward girls and young women. He acknowledged some of the behavior on social media and said he had been a troubled teenager.
Earlier this month, Coleman was also banned from the Kansas Department of Labor’s offices because the agency’s director said Coleman had tried to improperly gain entry to the department’s main office through a secured employee entry and berated a security officer.
At that time, Coleman said he was trying to help constituents deal with the state’s unemployment system.
Coleman tweeted before his arrest Saturday that he had been isolated from other students while in grade schools, leaving him “traumatized as well as several years behind in my social skills.”
“This deficiency,” he wrote, “makes it difficult to express to the world the love that I hold in my tender heart. It makes it even harder to form and maintain meaningful relationships, including romantic relationships.”
He didn’t immediately respond to a text message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Andy Tsubasa Field in Topeka, Kansas, contributed to this report.