Former Missouri House speaker arrested on felony assault charge

Monday, December 7, 2009 | 7:38 p.m. CST; updated 11:44 a.m. CST, Wednesday, December 9, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY — An immediate arrest warrant has been filed in southeast Missouri for former speaker of the Missouri House Rod Jetton on a charge of second-degree felony assault.

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 felony assault carries a prison sentence of up to seven years.

According a probable cause statement filed by a Sikeston police detective, after 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 woman told police she and Jetton had never previously dated or been in a relationship.

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.

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. He was seen in Jefferson City just hours before news of his arrest warrant was issued. A call to Jetton's cell phone was not immediately returned.

Several high profile Missouri politicians are listed as clients of Jetton's consulting firm including Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley and Majority Whip Brian Nieves.

Eric Brooks, vice president of Rod Jetton and Associates, said Monday that he did not know Jetton's whereabouts or how to contact him.

Online court records show that in October, that Jetton and his former wife agreed to a divorce settlement. The lawyer who represented Jetton in that case did not immediately return a message Monday.

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 that 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!"

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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