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‘Homophobic scare tactics’ in Baltimore race

Flier reveals 2009 voyeurism arrest of gay Council candidate

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Kelly Cross, gay news, Washington Blade
Kelly Cross, gay news, Washington Blade

Kelly Cross pled guilty to a charge of voyeurism in D.C. in 2009. (Photo courtesy Cross)

A gay attorney and civic activist running for a seat on the Baltimore City Council says he’s being targeted by fliers mailed to residents of his district that mischaracterize the circumstances surrounding his 2009 arrest in D.C. on a misdemeanor charge of voyeurism.

Kelly Cross, 38, told the Washington Blade he believes the anonymous fliers, which falsely describe him as a “convicted sex offender,” are homophobic and aimed at discrediting his campaign to become Baltimore’s first out gay member of the City Council.

Cross is one of seven candidates competing in the city’s April 26 Democratic primary for the 12th District Council seat being vacated by longtime incumbent Carl Stokes, who is running for mayor.

D.C. Superior Court records show that in September 2009 Cross pled guilty as part of a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors to a misdemeanor charge of voyeurism. The plea came after he admitted he clandestinely recorded video of a partially nude man changing his clothes in the locker room of the Washington Sports Club gym at 738 7th St., N.W.

Cross has said the man in question posted an ad on Craigslist expressing interest in meeting another man for a sexual encounter at the gym on Aug. 19, 2009, the day he recorded the man. Cross and others familiar with the gym say it was notorious at the time as a cruising place for gay men.

But prosecutors said the man — himself an attorney, former Boston police officer and former prosecutor with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General — claimed he didn’t know Cross and was unaware that he was being recorded as he disrobed in the locker room.

Police charging documents also say that the man accused Cross of entering a bathroom stall at the gym next to the stall the man was in and placing a small toiletry bag on the floor between the two stalls. Seconds later, the man told police, he noticed a camera lens inside a hole cut out of the side of the small bag that was pointed up at him, leading him to believe Cross was attempting to photograph him or record video of him while undressed in the stall.

According to the charging documents, the man grabbed the bag out of Cross’s hand, allegedly prompting Cross to leave his own stall, force open the door to the stall where the man was sitting, and start a struggle to retrieve the bag and camera from the man.

“As a result of the suspect grabbing the complainant, the complainant suffered a bruised arm and forearm,” a police arrest affidavit says. Police and prosecutors cited the man’s bruised arm as grounds for also charging Cross with simple assault. That charge was later dropped as part of the plea bargain agreement.

Cross denies he ever entered the man’s stall. He calls the assertion that he struggled to retrieve the bag “a complete lie,” and says he placed the bag near the man between the two stalls because the man appeared to be masturbating inside the stall and appeared to be interested in a possible sexual encounter with him.

The man, who currently practices law in Springfield, Mass., did not respond to a call from the Blade seeking comment.

At the time of his guilty plea, Cross’s attorney filed a pre-sentencing memorandum asserting that Cross realized he mistakenly thought the man was consenting to a flirtation between the two and that his decision to briefly record video of the man changing in the locker room was a mistake.

Court records show that police viewed the video taken on Cross’s camera and observed several seconds of video of the man changing in the locker room but there were no video images found on the camera of him in the bathroom stall.

A Superior Court judge on Oct. 23, 2010 sentenced Cross to 180 days, which he suspended in full, three years of supervised probation, and a $50 fine.

One of at least two versions of the anonymous flier disclosing Cross’s 2009 arrest includes links to two online news articles that report on the recommendation of a D.C. Bar disciplinary committee that investigated Cross’s arrest and guilty plea for possible violations of the “standards governing the practice of law in the District of Columbia.”

In a 47-page report released in May 2015, a Hearing Committee of the D.C. Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility found that Cross’s actions related to his arrest and guilty plea violated at least two standards required for lawyers pertaining to “criminal acts reflecting adversely on honesty, fitness, or trustworthiness.”

The committee recommended that Cross be suspended from practicing law for three years and “required to prove his fitness to practice law as a condition for reinstatement.” However, the full Board of Professional Responsibility and the Court of Appeals, which must ratify or make changes to the committee’s recommendations, have yet to act on the recommendations.

Meanwhile, Cross told the Blade that he now feels his initial decision to accept the offer to plead guilty may have been a mistake. He said the decision came at a time when police and prosecutors exerted “tremendous pressure” on him to plead guilty to the single charge of voyeurism. He noted that police raided his and his husband’s apartment in Silver Spring, Md., shortly after his arrest and confiscated all of his electronic equipment, including computers, laptops and cell phone.

A short time later, police informed the D.C. law firm where he worked at the time that if Cross did not plead guilty they would place a “freeze” on all of the firm’s computers while they conducted forensic tests on them to determine whether Cross had stored improper videos on the computers. Nothing improper or illegal was ever found on any of Cross’s computers or electronic devices searched by police, Cross’s lawyer stated in a court document.

Cross said his attorney advised him not to make an issue of the Craigslist posting by the man at the gym because it would be hard to prove in court. Among other things, Cross said that police “wiped clean” the hard drives on all of his computers after they confiscated them, removing his copy of the Craigslist profile of the person he believed to be the man he recorded at the gym.

“In retrospect I should have done that probably — fought harder,” Cross said. “But it seemed like it was going to be too much money and too little upside,” he said. “Especially when all they’re saying to you is pay this fine and take probation and we’ll leave you alone. It was just like OK, fine, leave me alone. This whole thing is going to go away,” he said. “But it hasn’t.”

Since moving to Baltimore more than five years ago, Cross has started a new career as a legal technical consultant, he said. He has also worked as a volunteer civic activist. He is a former board member of the Charles Village Civic Association and currently serves as president of the Old Goucher Community Association, according to his campaign website.

He said he has a suspicion of who might be responsible for the anonymous fliers attacking him, but he doesn’t want to identify the suspected source of the fliers at this time. Cross also said he has begun the process of filing a formal complaint against the person he suspects of creating the flier, but he declined to elaborate.

Jared Demarinis, director of candidacy and finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections, said the flier is in violation of the state’s campaign finance reporting law, which requires all campaign ads or literature distributed to voters to have an “authority line,” which identifies the organization or individual who creates and distributes such a flier.

He said if the sender of the flier spent $5,000 or more to create and distribute it the individual or organization behind it must register with the Board of Elections. Expenditures less than $5,000 do not require registration but the fliers must include the “authority” line identifying the person or group behind it, he said. Failure to do so would subject the party responsible for the flier to a $500 fine, according to Demarinis.

Maryland State Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), whose district partially overlaps the 12th City Council district, said she’s troubled over the anonymous fliers attacking Cross. Washington is the only out LGBT African-American member of the Maryland Legislature.

She said she has decided not to endorse candidates for mayor or City Council, but noted that she is aware of what she called Cross’s strong record of advocacy for the community through his civic activism.

“We have moved so far in our state” on the LGBT rights front, she told the Blade. “And to use these homophobic scare tactics to dissuade people from electing the first out City Council person in Baltimore City would be really unfortunate,” she said.

“People should be assessed on their willingness or their value and what they can do in the office and their vision for the office,” she added. “I know Kelly has a great track record of working hard in the community. For his community I know he would do a great job advocating as the City Council person.”

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. JackNasty

    March 31, 2016 at 8:52 am

    So Kelly Cross concealed a video cam in the locker room and attempted to shoot video of a stranger. That’s truly creepy. The fact that Kelly Cross doesn’t understand how creepy should disqualify him from public office.

    And it’s not homophobia, Kelly. Normal gay men don’t sneak concealed video cams into locker rooms.

    • Foodahz

      March 31, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Agreed. We wouldn’t want a straight guy to be one of our leaders if he was doing this to women either.

  2. Tominfinland

    March 31, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I think there’s something more going on here. Sounds to me like that prosecutor had something to hide. Doesn’t sound like he was a stranger at all. That seemed to be the point of the article to me. Especially if the guy was a cop and prosecutor.

  3. A2Zed

    April 1, 2016 at 7:19 am

    This is 8 year-old crap masquerading as news because someone put out a nasty flyer. If this were such a big terrible event, why didn’t the Blade cover it when it happened? I hope the Blade realizes they’re basically worse than the person who did this to Kelly Cross because they’re doing the dirty work for them. All this crap relies on the same stupid fear and salaciousness of LGBT people in bathrooms and locker rooms. And it ignores the fact that people have always used police power to intimidate gay people. People often admit to things in order to get a plea deal. I don’t understand how this story informs or educates the LGBT community in any way.

  4. Aaron Harkins

    April 1, 2016 at 7:52 am

    It appears that both Kelly Cross and the unnamed victim are shady. But, Cross took it too far by secretly recording the man without his consent. I had no idea about this story, but it is a clear indication that Kelly Cross has made some terrible decisions in his life. We all have, but what Kelly Cross did was unethical and illegal.

    I wouldn’t consider the fliers a homophobic scare tactic. But, they are distasteful.

    I work out at WSC and notice guys in the locker room AND SAUNA AREA with their phones out all the time, despite signs indicating that they are not allowed. I can’t help but wonder what they are capturing.

  5. Christopher Hyde

    April 8, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    This is crap, a total joke

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Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

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Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security

Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots

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New fencing around the Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented some D.C. bills from being delivered to the Hill for a required congressional review. (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.

According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.

“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.

Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.

Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.

Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.

But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.

“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”

If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.

A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.

“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.

“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.

The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.

“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.

LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.

Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.

In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.

Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.

The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.

“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”

He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.

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D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

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shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.

According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.

Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.

“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”

The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”

Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.

Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.

In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.

“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.

Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.

The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.

In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”

At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.

The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.

In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.

The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.

It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.

Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.

The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.

The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.

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