House District 29 candidate DeAngelo Jelks said he had four consensual sexual encounters with a female campaign volunteer, but there was nothing illegal about the incidents.
His attorney, Lee Davis, said City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod, who he said went with the woman to file rape charges against Mr. Jelks, libeled and defamed him in her public statements against Jelks.
Mr. Jelks, who resigned as vice chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party over the situation, said, “I am taking a moment now to briefly address the false allegations made against me. I took the weekend to focus on my family, and answer their questions. Yesterday I was able to give this my attention, and so I am speaking on it today. I’d first like to apologize to my wife for subjecting her to this heartbreaking embarrassment. I’d like to apologize to everyone that has believed in our cause and movement to flip D29 blue. Finally, I apologize to anyone I have offended or disrupted in any way by the revealing of these details. I know for people who have been the victim of sexual crimes, even the idea of such an eventuality can be triggering.
"In the near future, I will be focused on restructuring my personal life, and reconnecting spiritually. As far as the elephant in the room, I know that I have let down my supporters, family and friends by having a consensual yet inappropriate relationship. This matter was personal and private between two consenting adults, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.
"To be clear, I have done nothing illegal. What should’ve been handled privately has become public because a local politician chose to martyr me for her own positioning. As humiliating as this is to all of us, I am completely cooperative in the Chattanooga Police Department investigation. I do request that any law enforcement or media personnel contact my Attorney Lee Davis of Davis & Hoss, PC. I am also reviewing with counsel my legal response to this false accusation spread by the Councilwoman. She too must be held accountable for making false statements, publishing false information, and exploiting the influence she’s been given by the people, which was used to betray the people.”
Attorney Davis said the affair between Jelks and the accuser consisted of four sexual encounters at the woman's apartment between July and August. He said the accuser, volunteering on the Jelks campaign, initiated the encounters "between two consenting adults" who were sober, and aware of their conduct and choices.
Attorney Davis said that while Mr. Jelks did something stupid, the handling of the complaint is the main issue.
"I take allegations of sexual assault extremely seriously, as do most people, but this investigation has real problems to it," attorney Davis said.
He stated, "Demetrus Coonrod as a City Council member called DeAngelo Jelks last week and offered to protect him, to protect his good name, and brought up race to protect a Black man from a false allegation. In the same week, she is taking the accuser to the police station to form a police complaint. It's on the eve of an election - DeAngelo Jelks' election. Those are red flags for me."
Attorney Davis said Councilwoman Coonrod's response was "intentionally damaging" to Mr. Jelks and we are "reviewing all options."
"It is a serious matter when you defame and libel someone, even someone running for public office," attorney Davis said.
He stated, “Tonight at 7:24 p.m. Demetrus Coonrod called and left me an angry voicemail. Interestingly she conceded that she called DeAngelo Jelks last week, days before she ignited this public accusation first on Facebook and then in mainstream media.”