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Muskegon judge candidate charged with domestic violence

Muskegon Circuit Court
Muskegon County
Muskegon Circuit Court

A West Michigan judicial candidate is accused of beating his girlfriend in front of witnesses. He also reportedly has a history of court records showing abusive behavior toward women and children.

Lawyer Jason Kolkema is running for Circuit Court judge in Muskegon. He finished first in the primary race.

But his campaign has been mired in scandal since not long afterward. That’s when witnesses say they captured video of Kolkema apparently whipping a woman with a belt in his Muskegon apartment.

Kolkema and the woman, later identified by multiple news outlets as his girlfriend, deny that he was beating her. The two say he was hitting the chair she was sitting in.

But he’s now facing domestic violence charges, and a Detroit Free Press review of court records shows that Kolkema has a history of questionable behavior, including failure to pay child support and having an inappropriate relationship with a client.

Kolkema hasn’t directly addressed the charges, but he did acknowledge in a Facebook post that “the optics look bad,” and said “the facts will be revealed in due time.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.