Jason Kolkema: Michigan judicial candidate arrested after he was filmed whipping his girlfriend with belt
Warning: This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some readers. Discretion advised.
MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN: Judicial candidate Jason Kolkema, 51, was arrested for brutally whipping his girlfriend with a belt multiple times during an argument in his western Michigan apartment after an onlooker recorded the ordeal on video. Kolkema recently won the primary for Muskegon County's 14th Circuit Court judicial seat and is now facing domestic assault charges after the video went viral.
Kolkema now alleges that he was striking his belt against the chair in front of his girlfriend, who has not been named. The 51-year-old has a history of abuse, including just as recent as this week when he allegedly spat on his girlfriend's daughter while the mother-daughter slept in his apartment despite having a restraining order that prohibited him from being near the 12-year-old girl, reports Detroit Free Press.
Kolkema allegedly spat toothpaste on the mother and daughter before throwing water at them. The following day, he threw a Gatorade bottle at them that missed and hit a nearby lamp.
Kolkema has faced charges of domestic assault in the past but they were dropped. One of the witnesses who saw Kolkema striking his girlfriend with a belt, said, the couple were "ranting and raving most of the morning." He was seen arguing for 40 minutes as he walked back and forth in the room.
The witness alleges she saw Jason grab his girlfriend by the neck, who then swung back. "The video is not as accurate as my eyes. You could clearly see that belt connecting with her," the witness said.
In May, police returned a call from his girlfriend who informed them that Kolkema had slapped her but when the police arrived at The Leonard apartments in Muskegon, they found his visibly upset girlfriend with a blank stare. The girlfriend then retracted her statement and when asked by police who she had a dispute with, she took Kolkema's name but refused to provide details on the situation.
Police reported they were no injuries on the woman who was wearing a long dress. The girlfriend reportedly told Detroit Free Press that Kolkema was trying to get her attention while she wore a headset and was distracted.
"It was rude of me to ignore him so I do take responsibility for that part," she said. "He's not dangerous. He's never beat me. He's not scary or threatening as a person … just boisterous, animated - almost bouncy at times. It's just not fair to him … it looks so much worse and different than what it was."
On New Year's Day, the girlfriend's 5-year-old son reportedly called his grandfather saying "he got hit in the hit with a doorknob by mommy's boyfriend."
When Child Protective Services questioned Kolkema, he told them he had no recollection of being inside the home despite his girlfriend and her son reporting otherwise. An Ottawa County prosecutor determined "this is a strange set of facts" and dropped the charges against Kolkema and his girlfriend.
In 2013, Kolkema's ex-wife had filed a domestic assault complaint against him after he shoved her to the ground during an argument. No charges were filed due to Kolkema's uncooperative and lack of witnesses to "substantiate the alleged assault."
In 2012, he admitted to pulling his wife's hair and left the house before the police arrived. Later that year, he allegedly left his sick 5-year-old daughter at home while he drove his older son 20 minutes away. The daughter was found by the neighbors wandering around looking for her father. Kolkema was not charged in that incident.
Kolkema has been charged with misdemeanor assault, a day after the video of him assauting his girlfriend with a belt circulated on social media. He posted a $500 cash bond after turning himself in.
Kolkema's lawyers said, "The couple have garden-variety arguments, it is not a relationship that can be characterized as abusive, and there is no evidence of past incidents of abuse."
Assistant prosecutor Katie Norton said, "Domestic violence includes violence that can either be physical or threatened. Contact is not required," adding, "We're prepared to try this case if that's what Mr Kolkema wishes."
A trial date has been set for November 21, 2022.