GEORGETOWN, Del.- Former lawmaker John Atkins will be allowed to contact the woman he was convicted of assaulting last year.
In court on Monday, Atkins and his lawyer asked Judge Paul Wallace to modify his no contact order to a no unlawful contact order. Atkins and the woman told the judge they would like to seek couples counseling. To this date, Atkins has completed 18 of 25 required domestic violence classes and sought additional therapy, his lawyer said.
"Essentially Mr. Atkins has been a model probationer," Defense Attorney Ronald Poliquin said.
Poliquin noted that Atkins and the woman have been in a five year relationship "that is unlikely to end."
Prosecutor Melanie Withers and probation officer Erik Forry opposed Atkins' motion, with Forry suggesting Atkins finish his 25 classes before any contact is modified. Withers said the state was opposed "given the lengthy history which has been very volatile."
The woman also spoke with the judge and expressed optimism for the couple's future.
"I just can go with what I know with the changes I've made in my life," she said. "I wasn't innocent in our relationship problems [...] Hopefully we can work on this together as adults."
Atkins spoke briefly as well, telling Judge Wallace he looked forward to going to the court mandated classes, and said he's learned a lot throughout probation.
"I think anytime two adults are seeking professional counseling, that's a positive thing," he said.
Judge Wallace approved the modification, but with stricter terms. Wallace included the No Unlawful Contact order to include "offensive" and "disorderly" contact, and said his terms come because of the couple's interactions impacting other people.
"I will modify it in a way that will put you at, for lack of a better term, a real short leash," Wallace told Atkins.
Wallace said the new no contact order is much broader, including any fighting, threatening, offensive or coarse gestures, displays, or potential abusive language.
Atkins--who declined to comment when court went into recess--also requested that his GPS monitoring device be removed. Judge Wallace denied the request as it was an oral motion, and instead suggested Atkins' lawyer file a separate, formal motion for that request.