Kansas Democrat, 19, dropping out of state House race after link to ‘revenge porn’

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A 19-year-old Kansas Democrat who recently defeated a seven-term incumbent by 14 votes in a state House primary election has now withdrawn from the general election, citing “recent developments in the race.”

Those developments included Aaron Coleman’s admission that, while a middle school student, he shared a nude photo of a girl online because she wouldn’t meet his demand that she provide more nude photos to him, according to reports.

Coleman followed through on the alleged threat and also admitted using online posts to harass other girls, Law & Crime reported.

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Last week, the girl connected to the photo incident – who is now 20 years old – told The New York Times she didn’t know Coleman when the incident occurred. She claimed he found her photo on Snapchat and then contacted her.

“I just don’t think he needs to be in a powerful position considering what he’s done to girls,” Kati Hampton told the Times.

“I just don’t think he needs to be in a powerful position considering what he’s done to girls.”

— Kati Hampton

On Aug. 13, the Kansas City Star published an editorial that included several women’s accounts of Coleman’s alleged harassment while they were students. One woman claimed the taunts nearly caused her to kill herself.

Last Friday, The Intercept published a profile of Coleman that appeared to blame his “impoverished background” for his alleged behavior.

“After talking it over with my family and my supporters I have made the difficult decision to withdraw my name from the ballot as a Democratic nominee for House District 37,” Coleman wrote in an email Sunday, according to The Wyandotte Daily.

“My father was recently hospitalized and in combination with the recent developments in the race it has put a significant strain on my family. Their wellbeing is too important to me to continue as the nominee.”

Coleman said he planned to make his withdrawal official by submitting a letter to the Kansas secretary of state by Sept. 1, the newspaper reported.

“For me and my family, I have no choice but to use medical hardship to take my name off the ballot and allow the Democratic precinct people to choose the next nominee,” Coleman’s statement continued.

The revenge porn allegation – referring to a matter that occurred more than five years ago — surfaced during Coleman’s primary race against state Rep. Stan Frownfelter. At the time, Coleman apologized and told reporters that the story was true — and claimed he had changed his behavior since then, the Daily reported.

But the story gained media traction and even some officials in his own party claimed Coleman wasn’t fit to serve in public office, according to the newspaper.

Frownfelter has since disclosed his intention to run as a write-in candidate, as did Republican Kristina Smith, the Daily reported.

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is among state Democrats saying they support Frownfelter’s bid to retain his state House seat, The New York Times reported.

Since the revenge story became public, Coleman said he has received death threats and has had conversations with party leaders, who suggested he withdraw from the race, the newspaper reported.

“This is too much for a 19-year-old,” the Democrat said.

Coleman also drew negative reactions by saying he would “giggle” if state Rep. John Whitmer, a Republican, died of the coronavirus, Law & Crime reported.



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