Jovan Melton

State Rep. Jovan Melton (Photo via Facebook)

A Democratic leader in the state House apologized Tuesday to two women after a report surfaced that he had been arrested twice years ago on suspicion of domestic violence. But state Rep. Jovan Melton also denied committing “any violence against the women.”

The Aurora representative, who is deputy majority whip of the Colorado House, apologized after The Denver Post reported the arrests from 10 and 19 years ago.

Both took place before Melton, 41, was elected in 2012 to House District 41 in Arapahoe County. He is running unopposed for his fourth and final term in the House.

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Melton acknowledged in a statement that “violence or aggression against women is never OK,” and that the story by the Post, and police reports it detailed, “demonstrate that as a young man I fundamentally lacked the emotional acuity to be able to properly manage emotional and stressful situations.”

Melton first was arrested in 1999 on suspicion of trespassing and harassment related to domestic violence involving a fellow student and then-girlfriend at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Melton was 20.

The woman told police they had been arguing at her apartment, and Melton grabbed her by the throat. But an officer on the scene wrote that he could find no “marks, bruises or indications that such actions had occurred,” the Post said.

Melton was convicted of harassment, placed under a permanent restraining order and given a 12-month deferred sentence.

In 2008, Melton was arrested after a car accident in which his then-girlfriend claimed he had assaulted her. He was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault, but the matter later was dismissed.

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“While I categorically deny any allegations that suggest any violence against the women involved, I am both embarrassed and heartbroken to be reminded of my immaturity all those years ago,” Melton told Colorado Politics. “As a victim of childhood violence, to have caused pain and anguish for these women is horrible and for that I am sorry. I hope that both women can forgive me for the emotional pain that I’ve caused them.”

Melton is vice-chairman of the eight-member Black Democratic Legislative Caucus, serves on the Legislative Council and on the Judiciary and the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committees.

Sen. Angela Williams of Denver, chairwoman of the black caucus, declined to comment on the matter.

Melton also was reported to be in an incident during the 2018 session with fellow Rep. Donald Valdez, D-La Jara. According to a tweet from Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby, House sergeants had to separate the two outside the office of the House speaker.

“I’m reminded of an old saying that my past will not define my future,” Melton concluded in his statement. “Today, I am stronger, more mature and deeply committed to seeking the appropriate counseling to ensure that my emotions never fuel these types of events in the future. As a black man, the odds are stacked against us from the beginning, but as I stand today, I want to remind young men of color that violence or aggression against women is never acceptable.

“As a legislator, I now have an obligation to serve not only young people of color as a role model but to be an advocate for women who witness or are victims of violent assault or aggression. I look forward to putting my head down and working on these issues with colleagues in the legislature in January.”

The session begins Jan. 4.

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