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19-year-old candidate leading in local Kansas race admits to revenge porn, blackmail

A 19-year-old candidate who has made controversial comments on social media and acknowledged abusive behavior online towards girls in middle school is currently leading a veteran lawmaker for a state House seat in Kansas City, Kans. 

Aaron Coleman, a community college student and dishwasher, holds just a five-vote lead over a seven-term state Rep. Stan Frownfelter (D), leading 807 votes to Frownfelter’s 802 in an Aug. 4 primary.   

Officials in Wyandotte County are set to meet Monday to review provisional ballots, according to The Associated Press. 

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Coleman has previously drawn criticism for sharing on social media that he would “laugh and giggle” if a former GOP state lawmaker died from the coronavirus. He has also acknowledged allegations that he engaged in bullying online, blackmail and spreading revenge porn targeting several middle school girls when he was also a minor.

The Kansas City Star detailed the actions in an editorial this week, although the outlet reported that he acknowledged and denounced his previous alleged behavior, including bullying, revenge porn and blackmail,  earlier this year. 

The newspaper reported that Coleman allegedly obtained a nude photo of a girl when she was in middle school and he was also a minor. She said he allegedly threatened to send it to her friends and family if she did not send him more. When she refused, he allegedly shared the photo.

Other women claimed he engaged in abusive behavior towards them when they were children, including making derogatory comments about their appearance and harassing them, in addition to contacting their families, according to the outlet.

One woman said she attempted to die by suicide after facing verbal abuse from Coleman when she was in the sixth grade.

Coleman told the Star editorial board “I made serious mistakes in middle school and I deeply regret and apologize for them. I’ve grown up a great deal since then.”

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He said Friday that he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder at age 15, the AP reported.  He has previously said he spent “the vast majority” of his elementary school education “in a closet” instead of receiving help at school.

Doug Powers, the assistant superintended of the Kansas City-area school district, where Coleman attended elementary school, has denied the candidate's assertion.

Frownfelter has not previously faced a contested primary. In five of his seven previous elections, he faced no opponent at all, the AP reported.

Frownfelter blamed the tight race on voter turnout, saying that young people came out to support Coleman, while his older supporters did not vote. 

A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said the teen is “not fit to serve in the Legislature.”