August 7, 2014 at 8:13 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay ANC member charged with assault drops out of race
Robert Leo Dwyer, gay news, Washington Blade

Robert Leo Dwyer (Photo courtesy Dupont Circle ANC 2B)

Gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robert Leo Dwyer, who was charged on July 28 with assaulting a man in front of the McDonald’s restaurant on 17th Street, N.W. near Dupont Circle, has dropped out of his race for re-election.

According to information released by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on Thursday, Dwyer, 32, did not submit the petitions signatures required to be placed on the ballot in November by the deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Dwyer’s withdrawal from the race leaves Dupont Circle civic activist Justine Underhill as the only candidate running for Dwyer’s ANC 2B07 seat.

A D.C. police arrest affidavit says Dwyer allegedly assaulted Rinaldo Jones by spraying him “with an unknown liquid substance from a squirt bottle” after yelling a racial slur at him shortly before 3 a.m. on July 28.

“The complainant stated that defendant Dwyer was throwing homeless peoples’ belongings into the street and spraying the area with an unknown liquid substance from a squirt bottle,” the affidavit says. “The complainant didn’t know what the liquid was but stated that it had a chemical odor and was irritating the skin on his arms,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says D.C. Fire Department medical technicians later “treated the complainant for irritated skin.”

The affidavit says a witness on the scene who knew Dwyer told police Dwyer was an ANC commissioner, worked as a bartender at the 17th Street, N.W. gay bar JR.’s, and lived on 17th Street a short distance from where the alleged assault occurred.

After contacting Dwyer at his residence, two D.C. police detectives invited him to come to the Third District police station for an interview and he agreed to do so, the affidavit says.

“Defendant Dwyer confirmed that he had strewn homeless peoples’ personal property about the street and sidewalk,” the affidavit says, “because the area had a bad odor due to the homeless population.”

It says Dwyer also confirmed that he sprayed a person who fits the description of Rinaldo Jones with what he called a household cleaning product.

“When asked if he used any racial slurs during the offense, defendant Dwyer stated, ‘I don’t think so,’” says the affidavit.

In a court appearance last week a D.C. Superior Court judge released Dwyer on his own recognizance on the condition that he does not “assault, threaten, harass, or stalk” Jones. He is scheduled to appear in court for a status hearing on Aug. 25.

Dwyer didn’t respond to a phone message from the Blade seeking comment.

Will Stephens, chair of Dupont Circle ANC 2B, told the Dupont Current that the situation surrounding Dwyer’s action as a sitting ANC member was “unprecedented.” He told the Current the commission might take formal action depending on the outcome of the upcoming court proceedings. Stephens’ comments to the Current came before Dwyer’s decision not to seek re-election became public knowledge.

JR.’s manager David Perruzza told the Blade he could not comment other than to say “Leo has never said a racial slur at work and is known as one of our nicest bartenders, and customers love him.” Perruzza added, “I don’t know what happened that night.”

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

  • Washington Wilona

    Well don’t you like this, Why isn’t the gay community screaming HATE CRIME charges against one of their own, or at least criticizing him? And on top of that he gets invited to come to the police station to talk with The MPD. This queen was was throwing homeless peoples’ belongings into the street and spraying the area with an unknown liquid substance from a squirt bottle. Either it was bleach or Mace take your pick. Now see this if this was the other way around the comment board would flying with attacks demanding hate crime charges be filed. And Black homophobia etc.

    I guess being white and gay DOES have it’s privileges. This is UNBELIEVABLE! Then again NO it isn’t

  • C-Dog

    I agree Wilona. Dyer’s behavior was reprehensible, especially for an elected official. The fact that he still works at JR’s isn’t surprising either. That bar has a reputation for being unwelcoming to minorities. The fact that they have a hate crime committing racist working the bar is not surprising in the least.

  • Chris

    Oh Wilona, get down off the cross someone else needs the wood.

    • Washington Wilona

      What’s wrong Chris did I strike a nerve girl? The hell you and the wood TRUTH IS TRUTH!

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