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Settlement reached in Robert Wone civil case

Three gay defendants agree to monetary payments

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“I am very much at peace with my decision to settle this lawsuit,” Kathy Wone said in a statement released by her attorneys. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Three gay men named as defendants in a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit over the 2006 murder of attorney Robert Wone inside their Dupont Circle area townhouse have agreed to an out-of-court settlement in the case with Wone’s widow, who filed the suit.

A statement released on Wednesday by attorneys representing Kathy Wone says defendants Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward “have agreed to a monetary settlement, including payments to the Robert E. Wone Memorial Trust.”

The statement doesn’t disclose the amount of money the defendants agreed to pay Mrs. Wone. It says she will use some of the money to advance the causes her husband believed in, including college scholarships and free legal services to people in need.

Attorneys representing Price, Zaborsky, and Ward — and the men themselves — couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

“A central purpose of this civil lawsuit has always been to uncover as many facts as possible about the circumstances surrounding Robert’s death,” says the statement from Kathy Wone’s attorneys, Benjamin Razi and Patrick Regan.

“Our extensive discovery efforts included detailed questioning under oath of each defendant,” the statement says. “In their deposition testimony, and in written discovery responses, none of them denied responsibility for Robert’s death. Instead, each refused to respond on Fifth Amendment grounds.”

The statement says the three defendants made it clear that they would invoke the Fifth Amendment at a trial, which had been scheduled for later this year.

“Based on all of the evidence, including these non-denials, we are confident that Robert’s estate would have prevailed at trial,” says the statement.

“Mrs. Wone has agreed to a settlement now because without the defendants’ truthful testimony, the civil trial – which was sure to be a painful experience for Robert’s family and friends – would not have uncovered any new information about what happened on August 2, 2006,” the statement says. “In addition, this settlement provides for monetary payments that most likely would not have been available to Robert’s estate had we won at trial.”

The three gay defendants were found not guilty at a criminal trial in which they were charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and evidence tampering in connection with Wone’s murder. Authorities haven’t charged anyone with the murder, and D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney’s office say the case remains open and they continue to seek more evidence to charge someone with Wone’s murder.

“I am very much at peace with my decision to settle this lawsuit,” Kathy Wone said in a separate statement released by her attorneys. “To me, their silence speaks volumes,” she said of the three defendants.

In an interview with the Washington Post before her attorney’s released their official announcement of the settlement, Kathy Wone said she remains convinced that the three men were involved in her husband’s murder.

“They can rot from the inside out from all the secrets they chose to keep,” she told the Post. “That’s their choice. I chose to move on.”

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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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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2024 Pride theme

‘Totally radical’ a nod to 80s and 90s

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Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos, on left, announces this year's Pride theme at the Pride Reveal party on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance on Thursday announced this year’s Pride theme is “totally radical.”

The organization made the announcement at Penn Social in Downtown D.C.

“Capital Pride’s 2024 theme celebrates the courageous spirit and unwavering strength and resilience that defined the LGBTQ+ community during the transformative decades of the 1980s and ‘90s,” said Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos. “It’s about embracing our authenticity, pushing boundaries and advocating for a world where everyone can live their truth without fear or discrimination.”

Capital Pride on Thursday announced this year’s Pride parade, which will take place on June 8, will begin at 14th and T Streets, N.W., and end at Pennsylvania Avenue and 9th Street, N.W.

The Capital Pride Block Party and Family Area will once again take place on 17th Street in Dupont Circle. A Tea Dance will also take place on Constitution Avenue, N.W., near the end of the parade. 

The Capital Pride Festival and Concert will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., on June 9.

Capital Pride has also launched a campaign to raise $1.5 million for a new D.C. LGBTQ community center. 

WorldPride will take place in D.C. in 2025. The event will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Pride events in the nation’s capital.

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