Ex-lawmaker Atkins arrested 3rd time in domestic violence case

John Atkins

DOVER — A former Delaware lawmaker charged with assaulting and choking his girlfriend in an argument has been arrested for the third time in two weeks after allegedly violating a no-contact order again.

John Atkins, 48, of Millsboro was arrested about 9 p.m. Thursday and charged with three counts of noncompliance with bond conditions, a felony, Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe of the Delaware State Police said Friday.

Atkins was being held Friday at Sussex Correctional Institution, with cash-only bond set at $18,000. His attorney, Alexander Funk, declined comment.

Atkins is scheduled to appear at preliminary hearing next Thursday.

State police charged Atkins with strangulation, a felony; and third-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor, earlier this month. He was given a $7,000 unsecured bond.

According to a state police affidavit, the woman told investigators she and Atkins were on the beach at the Indian River Inlet on July 12 when Atkins became angry over a text message she got from an ex-boyfriend. She said they began arguing, and Atkins put his hands on her neck and squeezed until she couldn’t breathe, and that she was hit under the eye while trying to get away. After the altercation, she took an Uber home, only to find Atkins waiting for her. She said they argued again and that Atkins hit her hat, causing it to hit her nose.

Atkins was subsequently arrested by Lewes police last Friday and charged with violating a no-contact order issued in connection with his initial arrest.

On Thursday, according to a police affidavit, troopers were called to the woman’s house. The woman reported that Atkins had called her on Tuesday, apologizing and pleading for her to take him back. She also told police that Atkins called her again later that day and left a voicemail, and that a neighbor told her Atkins was looking to rent an apartment across the street.

Troopers later met with Atkins, who admitted leaving a voicemail but also indicated that the woman had been calling him as well, according to a police affidavit. He also admitted looking at an apartment across the street and said he had purchased a prepaid flip phone in order to contact the woman, which he said was her idea.

Atkins has been repeatedly accused of violence against women.

In 2016, he was charged with offensive touching and criminal mischief after a domestic dispute in which he allegedly pushed a woman and kicked her car after she jumped into his truck and began trying to damage property in it. Those charges were dropped for insufficient evidence.

In 2014, Atkins was ordered to stay away from his estranged wife and their children after she complained of erratic and abusive behavior.

In 2007, Atkins, then a Republican, resigned from the House after using his legislative position to avoid a drunken driving arrest and being charged in a domestic dispute with his wife that same night. Atkins later pleaded guilty to offensive touching for allegedly grabbing his wife’s arm during an argument. He was sentenced to probation.

Atkins later switched his party affiliation to Democrat and in 2008 won back his seat. He lost a re-election bid in 2014.

Randall Chase writes for the Associated Press

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