State Rep. John Atkins Regrets Domestic Incident

 For Immediate Release:                      Sunday, October 29, 2006

            Contact:  John Matlusky:                      (302) 494-5103


State Rep. John Atkins (R-Millsboro) said he deeply regrets that a family disagreement has risen to the level where it requires public disclosure.

Rep. Atkins and his wife, Heather, became involved in an argument in the early morning hours of Sunday, October 29th.  Worried that the heated argument might spin out of control, Rep. Atkins called 9-1-1 with the idea that a police officer could mediate and calm the situation.  But after dialing, Rep. Atkins said he had second thoughts about calling an emergency number for a non-emergency situation.

As a matter of policy, police officers are sent to investigate all 9-1-1 calls, even those that hang-up before speaking to a dispatcher.  Millsboro Police Sgt. Shawn Davis responded to the call and arrived at the Atkins’ home at 3:14 a.m.

After speaking to John and Heather Atkins, Sgt. Davis decided to charge and process Rep. Atkins because he had grabbed his wife’s arm during the argument.  The charge of “offensive touching” was lodged over Heather Atkins’ objections.

“It’s not unusual for this type of charge to be filed, even in an incident which did not result in any injuries,” said John Brady, a Sussex County attorney who is serving as Rep. Atkins’ lawyer in this matter.  Mr. Brady also provides legal services to the State House of Representatives on a part-time basis.  “It’s been standard police policy for the last decade to file charges in domestic dispute cases to document the alleged conduct and turn the matter over to the State Department of Justice for further proceedings in Family Court.”

Believing that full and open public disclosure is called for, Rep. Atkins said he plans to discuss the situation Monday morning on a local radio show.  John and Heather Atkins, accompanied by John Brady, will appear on WGMD (92.7 FM) between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. with host Dan Gaffney.

“Even in the best marriages, disagreements occur,” Rep. Atkins said.  “However, I’m deeply embarrassed that the argument I had with my wife rose to the point where the police became involved.  I love my family.  Heather and I plan to take whatever steps are necessary to make our marriage stronger and to gain the skills we need to resolve any future disputes without the intervention of law enforcement.  We plan to learn from our mistakes and be better for it.  

“I’d also like to thank Sgt. Davis for the professionalism he displayed and for handling this situation according to the Millsboro Police Department’s procedures.”

John and Heather Atkins have three children and live in a historic home in Millsboro.  Rep. Atkins continues to reside at the home.