Aaron Coleman for Kansas House
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Aaron Coleman, the 19-year-old Democrat running for a Kansas state house seat who’s admitted to blackmailing a girl for nude photographs in middle school, has now been accused of slapping and choking his now-former girlfriend in the past year. He also reportedly told her to kill herself by texting her, “Air out the clip into your head.”
In a report published Tuesday, Taylor Passow told the Intercept that the assault occurred on December 27, 2019, when she was sitting in a Kansas City hot tub with Coleman. When Passow suggested that she break up with Coleman for a day, so that he could have a threesome without her, Passow said that Coleman became enraged. “He sat there for a few seconds, then he jumped on top of me, put his hands around my throat and started squeezing, and slapped me three times, and said ‘I don’t know where the fuck you think you’re going,’” said Passow, adding that she pushed Coleman off of her.Coleman left and Passow texted him an apology, the Intercept reported. In reply, Coleman said that he was only warming up the car, and added, “I’m sorry baby I failed your shit test.”The texts, which the Intercept published, were sent to a phone number associated with Coleman’s campaign finance registration, according to the outlet. A childhood friend also told the Intercept that Passow had told her about what happened in the hot tub shortly afterward.Coleman, who won a Democratic primary last week, has previously admitted to blackmailing the girl for nudes and viciously bullying other girls in middle school. One woman told the Kansas City Star earlier this month that Coleman was “calling me fat, telling me to kill myself, like I’m never going to find anyone, like I’m worthless, just downgrading me every day.”
She said the verbal abuse led her to attempt suicide.The woman who Coleman blackmailed, Kati Hampton, told the New York Times that Coleman had obtained a nude photo of her when she was just 13 years old. He demanded that she send more and threatened to circulate the photo if she didn’t. After she refused, he followed through on his threat.“I don’t think somebody who’s done what he’s done needs to be in any position of power,” Hampton told the Times.Over the weekend, amid the nationwide backlash against him, Coleman announced that he would be dropping out of the race. But by Tuesday, he had changed his mind — and decided to stay in the race partly because, he said, he wanted to help women.In a statement announcing his decision, Coleman reiterated that he was sorry for his conduct.“I can never justify what I did to those women, and I do apologize to them from a place of remorse and shame, but words are no longer an acceptable response today,” he said. “We need to provide safety to women in this society, which we do not currently do.”Coleman didn’t respond to the Intercept’s numerous attempts to reach him for comment on Passow’s allegations. VICE News requests for comment from Coleman’s campaign were not immediately returned.In a text message exchange a few days after the December incident, published by the Intercept, Coleman told Passow that she had “a funny memory.” “I remember it perfectly,” replied Passow, who is now 21. She posted similar screenshots of the exchange on her Facebook.
“That never happened,” he wrote back. “You dumped me and I smacked you and you smacked me and I immediately got up and stormed out of the hot tub.”In another text message exchange, Passow and Coleman talked about Passow hitchhiking to see him. In screenshots of the exchange posted to Passow’s Facebook page, Coleman replied, “I hope you get abducted raped chopped up and have ya pieces scattered around and Burnt in different locations. Read about it. dangerous for women to hitchhike.”When Passow told Coleman not to say that he hoped she’d get raped, Coleman replied, “Well don’t hitchhike.”After using a slur for people with mental disabilities, Coleman suggested that women who hitchhike will be brutalized.“And hey you might get lucky and they might kill you first then rape your corpse — that’s a true story that happened as well,” he texted Passow, who also used the slur in their exchange.The phone number listed for Coleman in the screenshots is also the number associated with a campaign Coleman launched in 2017, when he became one of a handful of teenagers who ran for Kansas governor the following year, VICE News confirmed. This exchange was first reported by Gen, a Medium publication, which said that it took place in mid-December 2019. On New Year’s Eve, Coleman texted Passow that she should kill herself, the Intercept reported. “Air out the clip into your head,” he texted her.
“Mag dump yourself,” he continued, according to texts published by the outlet. “Do that midnight tonight. If I never hear from you again then I’ll know what happened.”Again, Passow posted similar screenshots of the texts to Facebook.In January, Passow broke up with Coleman in a letter, she told the Intercept. On Sunday, the two spoke again, and Passow told him that she intended to go public with her story. According to the Intercept, Coleman then texted her to apologize.“But I’m not dropping out of the race,” he went on. “I’ve been honest with the public about everything that I’ve done, if you want to accuse me of something, you’re welcome to do that, and I’ll be honest then as well. No one is perfect. I’m not gonna try to stop you if you want to tell your story to the papers or whoever, but I’m gonna make sure that story is told truthfully.”Cover: Aaron Coleman for Kansas House