December 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Trans woman charged in carjacking of U.S. senator’s daughter

A transgender woman awaiting possible placement in a court-ordered counseling program was one of two people charged last week with allegedly carjacking a vehicle a U.S. senator’s daughter was driving in D.C.

Prince George’s County police arrested two suspects at a Taco Bell restaurant in Seat Pleasant, Md., about an hour after they allegedly pulled U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s daughter Julia Corker, 22, from her Chevrolet Tahoe while she was stopped at a red light at Seventh and D streets, N.W., police said. The two reportedly drove away in the vehicle and later parked it outside the Taco Bell, which is located near a police station.

The transgender woman, who according to D.C. court records uses the name Gabrielle, was identified by police by her legal name, DeWalden Connor, 22, of Capitol Heights, Md. The other suspect was identified as Steven Alston, 25, of Northeast D.C. Both suspects were held this week in Prince George’s County on $75,000 bond pending their extradition to D.C.

Records in D.C. Superior Court show that at the time of her arrest, Connor was awaiting placement in a special diversion program following an Oct. 21 arrest in D.C. on a charge of sexual solicitation. The records show the diversion program is operated by Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, which is based in Adams Morgan.

HIPS Executive Director Cyndee Clay said privacy rules prevented her from disclosing the names of participants in the program. She said the court and the U.S. Attorney’s office have retained HIPS to operate the program, which provides counseling and skills training for trans women arrested on prostitution related charges. Diversion programs call for the dropping of first-offense charges against enrollees if they successfully complete the program.

Court records show that Superior Court Judge Kaye Christian was scheduled to rule Dec. 17 on whether Connor should be accepted into the HIPS program. It could not immediately be determined if the carjacking arrest would adversely affect her chances of being accepted in the program.

According to an account released by the senator’s office, D.C. police, Capitol Hill police, the FBI, and Prince George’s County police responded within minutes of Julie Corker’s report of the carjacking. The law enforcement agencies arranged for the tracking of the vehicle through its OnStar anti-theft, global positioning device, police said, which resulted in county police finding the car.

Police charged Connor and Alston with unauthorized use of a vehicle and theft of over $500. The two could be charged with additional offenses upon extradition to D.C.

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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