October trial date set for former Missouri House Speaker Jetton

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | 9:41 a.m. CDT

NEW MADRID — The trial in the assault case of former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton will be Oct. 28-29.

The Southeast Missourian reports that New Madrid County Circuit Judge Fred Copeland set the trial date Tuesday.

Jetton, a 42-year-old Republican once considered a rising star in Missouri politics, is accused of assaulting a 35-year-old Sikeston woman on Nov. 15. The victim testified at a preliminary hearing in February that she knew Jetton as a child growing up in Charleston and that they had reconnected on the social networking site Facebook.

Soon, they were messaging online, text-messaging and occasionally calling each other. She said the give-and-take became flirting, and they agreed to meet in November at her home for a sexual encounter.

She said that because she sometimes had flashbaacks of sexual abuse as a child, she and Jetton agreed to a "safe word" she could use if she was having a flashback and wanted the sex to stop: green balloons.

The woman said the two shared a bottle of wine and she became incoherent. She said Jetton suddenly pulled her pants down, then hit and choked her. She said she blacked out and awoke in the bedroom, with Jetton having sex with her, smacking her leg and demanding that she say, "Yes, sir."

But at the same hearing, Jetton's attorney, Stephen Wilson, cited text messages between Jetton and the woman and tried to show that she knew the sex would get rough. He cited one message in which he said she wrote, "If it's not rough it is not fun."

First elected in 2000, Jetton played a key role in the Republican takeover in Missouri in the 2002 elections. He opened a political consulting business in 2004. The Missouri Ethics Commission ruled in 2006 that such an arrangement wasn't illegal but expressed "serious concerns" about the ability of a lawmaker-consultant to avoid legal violations and "the appearance of impropriety."

Jetton left the House because of term limits in January 2009. He closed the consulting business after his arrest.

Jetton is free on bond. He could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

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