March 25, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Local news in brief

Home intruder gets 26 years for targeting male students

A 24-year-old Virginia man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for a series of burglaries and assaults against male students living in Georgetown University’s off-campus residences.

The sentence, handed down March 12, came after a D.C. Superior Court jury found Todd Thomas guilty of 11 offenses, including one count of fourth-degree sexual abuse under aggravating circumstances and two counts of simple assault.

The simple assault charges involved separate incidents in which police and prosecutors said one male student awoke to find Thomas massaging his shoulders and another awoke while Thomas was massaging his ankles. Police said the incidents occurred when the two male students were asleep in their living room in the same house on different days.

In another incident, Thomas allegedly entered a residence on the 1200 block of 33rd Street, N.W., and “sexually assaulted a victim who was sleeping in a bed in his second-floor bedroom,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement announcing the sentencing.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said all of the offenses occurred between July 2007 and August 2008.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Lesbian & Gay Chorus to cease operations

The Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington is indefinitely suspending its performances and operations following a final concert on June 20.

“After 26 years as a grass-roots community chorus, [we] will be taking an indefinite break from rehearsing and performing,” says a statement from the organization. “LGCW’s concert on June 20, 2010, will be the chorus’s last performance for the foreseeable future.

“Facing challenges from decreasing membership, revenue and resources, current members made the difficult decision to cease LGCW’s traditional choral operations following the June concert.

“As a non-auditioned, consensus-based chorus, LGCW has changed the lives of countless people in the D.C. area and beyond,” says the statement. “The chorus has been a reliable presence at social justice events around the metro area, including Capitol Pride, the March for Women’s Lives, and the D.C. Vote Rally; raised thousands of dollars for a number of local and national charities; and was the first lesbian and gay chorus to produce a CD.”

Paul Heins, the organization’s music director, said the group will retain its structure, including its tax exempt status, in the event a new group of participants chooses to resume its activities.

“I think there will be a way to bring it back, but it will be different,” he said. “I think some will say, ‘OK, now that it’s 2010, how can we rebrand it to meet today’s needs and funding goals and membership’ and all that.”

The chorus’s remaining three performances include the April 23-24 performances of “Just Married: The Musical” at Capitol Hill Arts Workshops; a June 12 preview performance Hillwood Museum & Gardens of the final concert; and the final concert, “The LGCW Farewell Concert: Our Love Song to You,” on June 20 at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Gay chamber celebrates 20th year

The Capitol Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce will recognize a “diverse group of local business and community leaders” as it celebrates its 20th anniversary April 9 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Among those to be honored is gay businessman David von Storch, who will receive the group’s business excellence award. Von Storch opened the Capital City Brewing Company restaurant and Vida Fitness health spas.

Also receiving honors is Cathy Renna, who’s set to receive the group’s business leadership award for her role as managing partner of Renna Communications, a public relations firm. Thomas Sanchez will receive the emerging entrepreneur award for his work as a web strategist and founder of the web development and strategy firm Wamwaw LLC.

Jonathan Blumenthal, co-founder and president of Burgundy Crescent Volunteers, a 4,000-member local volunteer organization for LGBT-related causes, will received the volunteer of the year award.

Bob Summersgill, a longtime local LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist, will receive the community advocacy award. Also honored will be Wachovia, which will be recognized as corporate partner of the year for serving as a “longtime champion of the local LGBT community.”

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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