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John Atkins receives modified sentence

Former state representative allowed limited contact with girlfriend
February 12, 2019

Former state Rep. John Atkins received a modification of his sentence Feb. 11, from no contact with his girlfriend to allowing him to have no unlawful contact.

Atkins’ attorney, Ron Poliquin, said Atkins has completed six months of his one-year probation sentence, as well as 18 of his 25 mandatory domestic-violence education classes.

Atkins was arrested July 12 after a fight with his girlfriend. Court documents state that Atkins had become angry after his girlfriend received a text message from an ex-boyfriend during a visit to Indian River Inlet. Court records say Atkins put his hands around her neck and began choking her. She left and returned home, where Atkins was waiting for her. They argued again and Atkins smacked her hat, causing it to hit her nose, court records state.

After pleading guilty to third-degree assault and three counts of breach of release Aug. 17, Atkins was given credit for 22 days of jail time already served, as well as probation and GPS monitoring.

Poliquin said Atkins is still in a relationship with his girlfriend and the two were seeking couples counseling. He said Atkins has paid his fines, is in treatment and has not had any issues with drugs or alcohol while on probation.

“He’s been a model probationer,” Poliquin said. “He’s aware of the consequences if he violates that probation.”

Deputy Attorney General Melanie Withers said she opposed the request given Atkins’ volatile history. Atkins’ former wife filed a restraining order against him in 2014, and an ex-girlfriend accused Atkins of pushing her against a vehicle and kicking her car in 2016. The latter charges were dropped by prosecutors.

“The state believes it is too soon to have unfettered access to each other,” she said.

Withers asked Judge Paul Wallace to not modify the sentence until Atkins completed his domestic-violence classes.

Atkins’ girlfriend said they have both made changes in their lives and were trying to work out their relationship.

“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been on probation, and I look forward to going to domestic-violence classes,” Atkins said.

Wallace agreed to modify the sentence, but with conditions.

“You’re going to be on a very short leash,” he said.

Wallace said Atkins can have no unlawful, uninvited or disorderly conduct toward his girlfriend or anyone else. No fighting or threatening behavior will be tolerated, he said.

Poliquin then broached the subject of dropping Atkins’ GPS monitoring, but Wallace quickly denied that motion.

Atkins served as a Republican representative from the 41st District in Millsboro until 2006, when he was stopped in Ocean City, Md., for suspected driving under the influence and charged with offensive touching after an argument with his wife. He resigned his seat, but ran again and won in 2008, that time as a Democrat. He lost his seat in 2014 to Republican Rich Collins by 352 votes.