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Jetton pleads guilty to reduced charge in 2009 assault case

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 27, 2011 - The Southeast Missourian reportsthat former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault, in exchange for his admission that he struck a woman and choked her during a sexual encounter at her home.

The incident took place in November 2009, effectively ending Jetton's career as a rising political consultant and giving a new meaning to the phrase "green balloons."

The victim told police, and repeated in court testimony, that the two had agreed that the two words, "green balloons," would be used if the sex got too rough.

According to the newspaper's account of Thursday's court proceedings: "Judge Fred Copeland suspended the imposition of sentence, placing Jetton on probation and requiring him to pay restitution of $950 to the victim...who was in court for the plea agreement."

Jetton also was ordered to pay $300 in court costs.

Scott County prosecuting attorney Paul Boyd said in a statement that the victim was present for Jetton's plea agreement "so she can move on with her life."

At the time of the incident, Jetton had built up a significant consultant practice in Jefferson City. His clients also had included former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during his unsuccessful 2008 quest for president.

A former Marine, Jetton cut a flashy figure as House speaker in 2005-2008, which set him apart from other low-key Republican leaders at the time: then-Speaker Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, and then-Gov. Matt Blunt.

Jetton gained notoriety earlier, when he openly jeered then-Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, during his 2004 State of the State address.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.