Former Mo. House speaker charged with assault

AP News
Posted: Dec 07, 2009 10:43 PM

Former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton was charged with second-degree assault Monday stemming from a woman's claim that he hit her in the face several times and choked her.

The 42-year-old Republican was named in a complaint filed Monday in Scott County Circuit Court in southeastern Missouri. The complaint alleges that on Nov. 15, Jetton "caused serious physical injury" by hitting the woman on the head and choking her, which resulted in unconsciousness and the loss of function for part of her body.

Second-degree assault is a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to seven years.

According to a probable cause statement filed by a Sikeston police detective, Jetton and the woman discussed having sex, he came to her home on Nov. 15 and stayed until the next day. Jetton poured her a glass of wine in the kitchen while she remained in the living room. After drinking wine while watching a football game, the woman reported fading in and out of consciousness several times during the evening.

Police say the woman claimed Jetton hit her in the face several times "very hard" and she said she woke up at one point, lying on the floor as Jetton was choking her. The woman said she then remembered waking up while Jetton was behind her having sex in the bedroom. Police say there were bruises on the outside of the woman's thighs, left side and breast that were photographed.

According to the probable cause statement, the woman reported "blank spots" in her memory that she had not experienced before while drinking.

The Associated Press is not identifying the woman.

Jetton, who is from the southeast Missouri town of Marble Hill, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. There was no immediate response to a message sent to his e-mail address.

Cape Girardeau attorney Stephen C. Wilson, who is representing Jetton, said in a written statement that the former speaker is not guilty.

"Mr. Jetton was shocked and surprised when first advised of the allegation made against him," Wilson said. "Now that a complaint is filed in court, Mr. Jetton's only comments are that he is not guilty, and will vigorously defend this allegation in court and not in the media."

Online court records show that bond was set at $2,500 for Jetton and that he is required to avoid the woman. It was not known Monday if Jetton had been arrested. The probable cause statement indicates that Jetton was not in custody.

Police in Sikeston referred calls for comment to the city attorney, who was out of the office and unavailable for comment. The Scott County Sheriff's Office said it had not taken Jetton into custody.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Scott County prosecutor's office said no one was available to comment.

Jetton was elected to the Missouri House in 2000 and was chosen as speaker in 2005. He left the House after the 2008 session because of term limits and now works as a political consultant in Jefferson City.

Online court records show that in October, Jetton and his former wife agreed to a divorce settlement.

Jetton faced criticism earlier this year for his work against legislation favored by utilities to help build new power plants. His consulting firm set up an opposition group and warned electric customers to be wary of the bill. That prompted a heated argument on the Senate floor about Jetton's activities. The legislation never cleared the Senate.

During the 2008 campaign, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder criticized Jetton for working as a political consultant for three Republican state senators and a Republican House member while simultaneously serving as House leader. Two years earlier, the Missouri Ethics Commission had said no law prohibited such an arrangement but expressed "serious concerns" about the ability of a lawmaker-consultant to avoid legal violations and "about the appearance of impropriety" associated with it.

In 2004, when Jetton was the No. 2-ranking House official, he heckled Democratic Gov. Bob Holden during the State of the State speech, yelling: "Release the money, governor!"


Case is State vs. Jetton, 09SO-CR01886

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