Judicial candidate caught on camera allegedly assaulting girlfriend

Two weeks after winning the August primary, judicial candidate Jason Kolkema appeared to viciously whip his girlfriend with a belt during an argument in his western Michigan apartment, presumably unaware that nearby witnesses were recording the scene.

When he noticed the onlookers from his window, the 51-year-old lawyer flashed them the peace sign, and has since claimed the video isn’t what it seems: He was striking a chair with his belt, not his girlfriend, the woman and his lawyer have maintained.

But the video triggered criminal charges – and a tsunami of public outrage in the city of Muskegon, which borders Lake Michigan and is about 40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

In a scandalous judicial election that has stirred much debate in western Michigan, the topic of domestic violence has taken center stage as women’s rights activists fight to keep Kolkema off the bench, arguing he isn’t fit to be judge, especially in cases involving battered women and vulnerable children.

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