Norton – who wed Ashley Doherty on FYI's reality show – responds to the "vile and inappropriate" response to rumors that he was violent toward an ex
Credit: Zach Dilgard

After weeks of rumors swirling on social media that Married at First Sight‘s David Norton was previously arrested for a domestic dispute involving an ex-girlfriend, the reality star – who wed Ashley Doherty on FYI network’s hit show – tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement what exactly happened in 2007.

“Getting Married at First Sight has simultaneously been one of the most intense and rewarding things I have ever done in my entire life. I believe in love, and I’ve always wanted to be a dad and to have a family of my own. I was so excited to get married and find a life long partner. Since my wedding day, I have certainly made some mistakes in my marriage, but I have always tried hard to be a good husband, and a good person.”

“Watching Married at First Sight each week is a slightly surreal experience. Not only are the ups and downs of our marriage replayed like home movies for me and my wife to watch, they are also replayed for the public to see.”

“Nobody can prepare you for how intense public reaction can be. In general, it’s overwhelmingly positive – so many people want the best for me, my wife and the other participants.”

“Nevertheless, Ashley and I have both faced some heat since the show began airing. My wife has received threats from anonymous people sitting behind a computer screen, which is totally vile and inappropriate.”

“It also seems some people are looking to find dirt on me. And let me tell you, I’m not perfect. I was arrested when I was 21, after I got into a loud fight with my brother when I caught him with my girlfriend. I smashed a phone in anger, and I wanted nothing more than to get them out of the house. While I was angry, I never hit anyone. I was cited for disorderly conduct, and I ended up attending one two-hour class. Neither my girlfriend nor my brother ever filed charges, and I was never convicted of any crime. I was young and stupid – it’s something that I deeply regret and it isn’t something that I’m proud of. But I learned and grew as a person, and as the years passed, I reconciled with both my brother, and my ex-girlfriend. Today I can tell you one constant in my life has been that I’m human, and I make mistakes, but I would never hurt anyone, and nothing even remotely close to this has happened since. As much as I wish I could change the past, I cannot. All I can continue to do is to improve the man I am now, who is a far cry from who I was in 2007.”

“For Ashley and I to be vilified in the ways that we have been on social media has been beyond hurtful. Those who appear to want nothing more than to taint our names seem completely content in their smear campaigns. Please remember, all of us on Married at First Sight are flesh and blood – with real lives and real feelings.”

“Ashley and I both opened our hearts and took a blind leap of faith when we got Married at First Sight. We were full of hope and love. And despite the ups and downs, I would recommend it to anyone. I still believe in love, and I have grown and changed for the better. Thank you to the viewers who have, since day one, rallied around us and rooted for us. My life has been touched by all of you.”

FYI network and the show’s production company, Kinetic Content, declined to comment.