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LGBT retirement community opens in rural Maryland & more

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LGBT retirement community opens in rural Maryland

A businessman from Dallas has opened Maryland’s first LGBT retirement community about 25 miles west of Baltimore.

The Stonewall Retirement Community, a resort-style residence for LGBT seniors anchored by a 12,000-square-foot structure atop a five-acre lot, is located in Howard County’s farming town of Woodbine. The facility can accommodate up to 14 singles or couples.

Scott Streit, Stonewall Retirement Community’s owner, said he’s targeting “the post-Stonewall and pre-‘Will & Grace’” generation with the venture.

The house features an outdoor pool that will be heated for year-round use, an eight-person hot tub, two barbeques, two laundry facilities, three kitchens, and a theater room with more than 500 DVDs. Other amenities include three large decks, wireless Internet and private baths with Jacuzzis.

Residency costs vary, depending on single or double occupancy and the desired setup. Prices start with a 650-square-foot, single-occupancy room with a small kitchen at $2,000 per month. At the top end is Stonewall’s 1,000-square-foot, double-occupancy room with a full kitchen and laundry at $3,750 per month, which includes two meals daily in the dining facility and a shopping service.

A complete cost model breakdown and amenity list is available on Stonewall’s web site, stonewallretirement.com.

Streit said it’s his hope that the shared lifestyle and activities among residents will bring a sense of community. Events keyed to New Year’s Day, Pride celebrations and Halloween, among others, are planned.

STEVE CHARING/BALTIMORE OUTLoud

D.C. man convicted of anti-gay hate crime

A jury has found a D.C. man guilty of bias-related assault and threats against a 67-year-old gay man, who authorities say was the subject of “an almost daily barrage of name-calling and harassment.”

Police said Anthony Wright targeted the elderly man along the 1200 block of Eaton Road, S.E., between June and August. At trial, police testified that Wright committed the assault and made threats to do bodily harm solely because of the victim’s sexual orientation.

Under the city’s hate crimes law, the maximum penalty Wright faces is 1.5 times greater than that of a similar set of offenses not listed as bias-related. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, this means Wright could receive up to 270 days in jail for each of the two crimes.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office notes that Wright’s name-calling against the victim “went on unabated for more than two years” before his actions turned violent on June 6. The statement says at that point, Wright punched the victim as he was sitting outside his apartment building. After that assault, police arrested Wright. He was released later that day.

“Upon his release, Wright returned back to the apartment building and proclaimed to the people standing outside, including the victim, that ‘they don’t lock you up for hitting faggots,’” says the statement. It says Wright continued his verbal harassment for another two months before threatening to stab him, a development that prompted police to arrest Wright for the second offense of bias-related threats.

Wright was found guilty April 28. D.C. Superior Court Judge Anthony Epstein was scheduled to sentence Wright on Wednesday, after Blade deadline.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

New bus route ties D.C. to Delaware beaches

The gay men behind the DC2NY bus line will debut a new route over Memorial Day weekend tying D.C. to Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

Richard Green, DC2NY’s chief executive officer, said the new route will continue weekend trips between Delaware and Washington through Labor Day weekend. Ticket prices are $39 each way or $70 for a round trip. Departure times vary; a schedule will be posted soon at dc2ny.com.

“We’ve determined there’s enough interest that we’re going to do the entire summer season,” he said.

Previously, Rehobus shuttled customers between D.C. and Rehoboth Beach. That service, which began in 2007 and charged riders about $40 each way, ended after the 2008 summer travel season.

Since that venture ended, Green said “enough people have been asking for this service” that DC2NY decided to explore the market.

“Whether we make money or not, we want to do it this year as a service to the community,” he said. “We’re hoping to at least break even, but we’re committed to doing it this year to really give it a chance.”

JOSHUA LYNSEN

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District of Columbia

Casa Ruby receiver appeals decision dismissing lawsuit against former board

Case against founder Ruby Corado continues

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The lawsuit names Casa Ruby founder and former executive director Ruby Corado as a defendant. (Blade file photo by Ernesto Valle)

The Wanda Alston Foundation, which assumed control over the operations of the D.C. LGBTQ community services group Casa Ruby in August 2022 under a court appointed receivership role, last week filed papers before the D.C. Court of Appeals contesting a May 1, 2023, decision by a D.C. Superior Court judge dismissing a lawsuit against seven of the eight former Casa Ruby board members who the Alston Foundation named as defendants.  

The lawsuit, which the Alston Foundation filed Dec. 23, 2022,  accuses all eight former Casa Ruby board members of violating D.C.’s nonprofit corporation law by failing to  “hold regular meetings and/or maintain official records – thereby exercising no oversight or governance over the organization.”

The lawsuit also names Casa Ruby founder and former executive director Ruby Corado as a defendant who it says is also responsible for Casa Ruby’s downfall.

The Alston Foundation’s lawsuit followed a separate civil complaint filed against Casa Ruby in July 2022 by the Office of the D.C. Attorney General, which alleges that Casa Ruby, under Corado’s leadership, violated the city’s Nonprofit Corporations Act in connection with its financial dealings, including Corado’s alleged unauthorized withdrawal of funds from Casa Ruby.

In a report it released last year, the Alston Foundation said its own investigation into Casa Ruby’s financial records show that Corado allegedly embezzled over $800,000 from the organization, with the board failing to take steps to prevent that from happening.

Corado has denied the allegations against her, saying her withdrawal of funds from Casa Ruby accounts, some of which she said was for her establishing a Casa Ruby outpost in El Salvador, were all approved by the board.

The lawsuit calls on the court to require Corado and the former board members to pay “restitution, compensatory damages, punitive damages, receivership fees and expenses, court costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses, and any other relief the court deems necessary and proper.”

In her May 2023 decision, D.C. Superior Court Judge Danya A. Dayson dismissed the lawsuit against seven of the eight former Casa Ruby board members but did not dismiss the case against Corado. The judge also did not dismiss the case against former board member Consuella Lopez, citing evidence presented in the lawsuit that Lopez received some financial benefits from Corado. 

Lopez didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by the Washington Blade. The other board members have declined requests for comment at the time the lawsuit was filed.  

Dayson states in her decision that her dismissal of the lawsuit against the seven board members was based on her interpretation of a D.C. law that says members of an organization’s board of directors can only be held liable for harming an organization like Casa Ruby if they “intentionally, rather than negligently, inflicted harm on Casa Ruby.”

The judge states in her ruling that the law in question also says board members can be held responsible for harming an organization if a “board member intentionally violated a criminal law or that the board member received some amount of money to which they were not entitled.” Dayson states in her ruling that the Alston Foundation lawsuit does not provide sufficient evidence that the seven board members committed those types of violations.

Attorneys with the D.C. law firm Wiley Rein LLP, who are representing the Alston Foundation, dispute the judge’s interpretation of the law. They argue in a 23-page legal brief filed with the D.C. Court of Appeals on Feb. 26 that the Alston Foundation’s Third Interim Report in its role as the Casa Ruby receiver provides sufficient evidence that the former board members are legally liable for harming Casa Ruby.

Their legal brief says based on that report, among other evidence, the court could find that the former board members “were deliberately  indifferent or ‘willfully blind’ to the alleged wrongful conduct of the non-profit’s executive director amounting to actual knowledge on their part that inaction would harm the non-profit, ultimately and forcibly leading to its financial inability to continue operating.”

 The brief adds that if the judge’s dismissal ruling is upheld, it would have an adverse impact on other nonprofit organizations whose board members fail to adequately oversee the organizations.

“If the Superior Court’s order is allowed to stand, directors could both abdicate these responsibilities and claim not to know that such addiction would have adverse consequences for their organizations with impunity,” it says. “Indeed, such a standard essentially provides non-profit directors with an incentive to engage in a ‘see-no-evil’ hands off approach to their responsibilities under circumstances in which the Nonprofit Corporations Act expressly contemplates the opposite.”

Under court rules, the former board members will be given an opportunity through their attorneys to file a response objecting to the Alston Foundation’s appeal of the dismissal ruling.

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Maryland

Protests interrupt Moms for Liberty meeting about removing books in Howard County schools

Guest speaker led book-removal campaign in Carroll County

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Gabriella Monroe holds a poster that says 'Ban Bigotry Not Books' outside Howard County’s Central Branch library in Columbia on Feb. 26, 2024 (Photo by Sam Mallon for the Baltimore Banner)

BY KRISTEN GRIFFITH | When a Howard County chapter of Moms for Liberty wanted to learn how to remove books from schools, they were met with a swarm of protesters sporting rainbow colors and signs looking to send the message that such actions are not welcome in their district.

The conservative parents’ group met Monday night at Howard’s Central Branch library in Columbia to brainstorm how they could get books they deemed inappropriate out of their children’s school libraries. Their guest speaker for the evening was Jessica Garland, who led a successful book-removal campaign in Carroll County. The Howard chapter wanted the playbook.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Rehoboth Beach

Former CAMP Rehoboth official pleads guilty to felony theft

Salvatore Seeley faces possible jail time, agrees to reimburse $176,000

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Salvatore “Sal” Seeley, who served as an official at the Rehoboth Beach, Del., CAMP Rehoboth LGBTQ community center for 20 years, has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of Theft In Excess of $50,000 for allegedly embezzling  funds from the organization for at least a two-and-a-half-year period, according to a Sussex County, Del., Superior Court indictment and a spokesperson for the Delaware Office of the Attorney General.

The spokesperson, Mat Marshall, sent the Blade a copy of the indictment, which he said was handed down against Seeley on Feb. 27 and which provides the only specific court information that the Washington Blade could immediately obtain.

“Salvatore C. Seeley, between the 27th day of February 2019 and the 7th day of September 2021, in the County of Sussex, State of Delaware, did take property belonging to Camp Rehoboth, Inc., consisting of United States currency and other miscellaneous property valued at more than $50,000, intending to appropriate same,” the indictment states.

“I can further confirm that the Defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of Theft in Excess of $50,000,” spokesperson Marshall told the Blade in an email message. “Mr. Seeley also agrees to make restitution of $176,199.78 to CAMP Rehoboth,” Marshall said. “He will be sentenced on April 5 and does face the possibility of prison time.”

Marshall declined to provide additional information on the findings of the law enforcement investigation into Seeley’s alleged theft. The restitution figure of $176,199.79 suggests investigators believe Seeley embezzled at least that amount from CAMP Rehoboth during the time he worked for the organization.

Seeley couldn’t immediately be reached for comment

CAMP Rehoboth describes itself as a nonprofit LGBTQ community service organization and the largest organization of its type “serving the needs of LGBTQ+ people in Rehoboth, greater Sussex County, and throughout the state of Delaware.” The statement adds that the organization “is dedicated to creating a positive environment inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Rehoboth and its related communities.”

Kim Leisey, who began her job as executive director of CAMP Rehoboth in July of 2023, said it was her understanding that officials with the organization discovered funds were missing and opened an investigation in September of 2021, a short time before Seeley left the organization. Leisey said that at the time of his departure, Seeley served as CAMP Rehoboth’s director of health and wellness programs. 

At that time, former D.C. Center for the LGBT Community director David Mariner was serving as CAMP Rehoboth’s executive director and reportedly took steps to open an investigation into missing funds. Wesley Combs, CAMP Rehoboth’s current board president, said Seeley resigned from his job around that time in 2021.

“I know that I took this job knowing there was a concern and a problem and an investigation,” Leisey told the Blade. “And I also know that the board of CAMP Rehoboth has done everything it needs to do to ensure that we were compliant, cooperative and that things are going really well here at CAMP Rehoboth.”

Leisey said CAMP Rehoboth currently has a staff of six full-time employees and several contract employees. She said the organization has a current annual budget of $1.4 million.

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