KUSA — The Democratic leaders of Colorado’s State House of Representatives issued a joint statement Wednesday saying they have asked a fellow lawmaker to resign in wake of a Denver Post report that detailed his two previous arrests for domestic violence.
State Rep. Jovan Melton of Aurora, who is the Democratic majority whip of the Colorado House, issued an apology following the arrests, which happened in 1999 and 2008 (the latter case was dismissed, according to the Denver Post report).
Melton also serves as the vice chair of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus.
“The Denver Post story is deeply disturbing and very serious,” the statement from House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), Majority Leader KC Becker (D-Boulder) and Assistant Majority Leader Alec Garnett (D-Denver) reads. “We have spoken with Rep. Melton privately and encouraged him to resign.
"Ultimately it is Rep. Melton’s decision whether to step down. We recognize that the criminal justice system has not worked for far too many people of color and survivors. People should not necessarily be precluded from running for office because they have issues in their past. But we urge him to consider the seriousness of the story and the impact on the people of his district and on the public confidence in the legislature."
Both of his arrests took place before Melton was elected to represented House District 41 in Arapahoe County in 2012. He is running for reelection next month and is unopposed.
In a tweet, Melton did not acknowledge the calls for him to resign, but thanked the woman in the 2008 incident "for her forgiveness and for correcting the record on the events that took place that night."
“While I categorically deny any allegations that suggest any violence against the women involved, I am both embarrassed and heartbroken to be reminded of my immaturity all those years ago,” Melton told Colorado Politics. “As a victim of childhood violence, to have caused pain and anguish for these women is horrible and for that I am sorry. I hope that both women can forgive me for the emotional pain that I’ve caused them.”
This statement was issued following accusations from Republican leadership that the Democrats were covering up the allegations against Melton, Colorado Politics reports.
The next legislative session begins on Jan. 4.
Melton drew criticism from the GOP particularly in wake of the expulsion of then-Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock earlier this year following claims he sexually harassed multiple women. On March 2, Melton told 9NEWS there is "no place" for that kind of behavior in the Capitol.
"We will not be able to truly bring about the real culture change that is needed in 2018, it amazes me that we are talking about this in 2018," Melton said at the time. "Let us look at the facts for what they are. Let us recognize that this is not the Colorado way to allow a member to continue serving in this ... body."
Becker told 9NEWS that she learned about Melton's arrests on Thursday and that it came from an "outside, third-party investigator." She said they scheduled a meeting with the representative and told him it would be best for him to resign -- though she conceded leadership can't necessarily force him to.
"I think it's going to be difficult with Rep. Melton, with this information out there, to continue to represent his district," Becker said.
Nevertheless, Becker - who called for Lebsock to expelled - said she would not call for a resolution to expel Melton should he opt not to resign.
"Other people may call for a resolution to expel, I am not calling for a resolution to expel Rep. Melton," Becker said. "I have sponsored a resolution to expel a member for workplace harassment, there is a policy for that, and certainly now after Rep. Lebsock, there is precedent for that, but those are not the allegations against Rep. Melton at this time."
9NEWS reached out by voicemail and text to Melton. We have not heard back as of 7:15 Wednesday night.