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Md. police sting operation targeted Grindr

Local man convicted of soliciting sex from 15-year-old

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Daniel Read, gay news, Washington Blade

Daniel Read

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on June 29 found a 31-year-old man guilty of soliciting sex from a 15-year-old fictional boy created by an undercover police detective who posted messages on the gay app Grindr under the name “Kinky Twinkie.”

The guilty verdict handed down for Germantown resident Daniel Read followed a one-day non-jury trial in which information surfaced that the undercover officer initially created a Grindr profile for Kinky Twinkie as a 17-year-old male high school student.

The legal age of consent in Maryland is 16.

At the time of his arrest in December, Read served as a Montgomery County District Court commissioner, a position that involves performing some of the duties of a judge, including setting bail for prisoners. He was dismissed from his job shortly after his arrest.

A police charging document filed in court says that under the profile of “Dan,” Read began to communicate with the detective posing as the student through text messages and private messages on Grindr.

“During these messages your affiant advised Dan that he (Kinky Twinky) was actually 15 years old,” the charging document says. After several additional exchanges of messages, Dan allegedly asked the student to send him nude photos of himself.

“By utilizing open source libraries, your affiant was able to obtain images to send to Dan as he requested,” says the charging document, which was prepared by the arresting officer, who is identified on the document as Det. Nick Jerman.

The document says Read eventually told the fictional student through a text message that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with him and agreed to meet him at a McDonald’s restaurant in Germantown.

According to the charging document, police officers intercepted Read in his car and arrested him on a charge of sexual solicitation of a minor as he approached the McDonald’s. It says Read had given the undercover officer posing as the student his cell phone number during a prior communication.

Police used the number to trace Read’s identity and home address. At some point before the arrest, police visited the street where Read lived and saw his car, which enabled them to recognize the car when Read drove to the McDonald’s.

“Yesterday’s verdict is clear,” said Ramon Korionoff, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case. “Do not seek out sex with a minor. Do not use social media to lure underage boys for a sexual encounter,” Korionoff said.

“The underage person you may be ‘chatting with’ might just be an undercover police officer,” he said. “Daniel Read used poor judgment and committed a criminal offense. He will be held accountable for his crime.”

Under Maryland law Read faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and possible placement on a sex offender registry. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell on Aug. 15.

Read’s attorney, David Moyse, said Read’s arrest took place 30 days after he and the undercover officer began communicating with each other on Grindr and after Read developed what the attorney said was an emotional bond with what he thought was a confused young man who he wanted to help.

“And the real truth is he was targeted, and for 30 days was speaking with this young man thinking that they had a real relationship,” Moyse said. “And Mr. Read identified with the idea of a sexually confused or in-the-closet 15-year-old who was being raised Catholic just like Mr. Read and who described himself as not understood by friends and family or his religion.”

According to Moyse, although Burrell said in her verdict that Read’s actions met the criteria of sexual solicitation of a minor she also found that he was “emotionally induced” to create a relationship with the fictitious student.

“They preyed on a lot of issues that Mr. Read dealt with in his own adolescence to create that bond,” said Moyse. “And in the very end they used jealousy to get him to go over the edge.”

Moyse said transcripts of hundreds of text messages between Read and the detective posing as the student, which were introduced as evidence at the trial, show that the detective repeatedly raised the issue of sex and made it clear that he wanted to have sex with Read.

“Mr. Read kept saying, look, wait until you’re 16 and it’s legal and then we’ll meet,” Moyse quoted Read as saying. “After 30 days the officer said you know what? You’re Mr. Right but I need Mr. Right Now,” Moyse recounted.

“And he went back on Grindr presumably to find another guy,” said Moyse. “And Daniel was so jealous he said fine, let’s fuck.”

It was at that point, Moyse said, that police and prosecutors determined Read crossed the line and violated the statute prohibiting sexual solicitation of a minor.

“To be very fair, they had prior conversations from Mr. Read with other people where he expressed interest in 15-year old boys and 14-year-old boys,” Moyse said. “These were all kind of internet talk. It wasn’t with actual 15-year-olds. But the judge found that he still had the desire, the predisposition to do this,” said Moyse.

“That’s why it’s not entrapment,” he said, as defined and interpreted under the law.

Moyse said he has made a request with the judge to have the sentencing postponed to allow Read to be further evaluated by a mental health professional who will prepare a pre-sentencing report for the judge.

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District of Columbia

Capital Stonewall Democrats backs Robert White over Bowser

LGBTQ group endorses Erin Palmer over incumbent Mendelson

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Council member Robert White won the backing of Capital Stonewall Democrats in his bid for mayor over incumbent Muriel Bowser. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, announced on May 17 that it has selected D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) over incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser and political newcomer Erin Palmer over D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson as its endorsed candidates in the city’s June 21 Democratic primary.

With Bowser and Mendelson as well as White having longstanding records of support for LGBTQ rights and Palmer expressing strong support for the LGBTQ community, local observers say the LGBTQ Democratic group’s 163 voting members appear to have based their endorsement decisions on other pressing issues facing the city rather than only LGBTQ specific issues.

In other races, Capital Stonewall Democrats, formerly known as the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which was founded in 1976, voted to endorse incumbent Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau over gay former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary and community activist Sabel Harris who are running against Nadeau.

In the Ward 5 Council race, the group has endorsed gay D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker in a five-candidate contest for the seat being vacated by incumbent Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who ran unsuccessfully for the office of D.C. Attorney General.

The group has also endorsed Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is running unopposed in the primary; D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who’s favored to win re-election against two lesser-known opponents; and D.C. shadow U.S. Rep. Oye Owolewa, who’s also favored over a lesser known opponent.

Capital Stonewall Democrats announced it did not make an endorsement in the Ward 3 and At-Large D.C. Council races and in the D.C. Attorney General race because no candidate received a required 60 percent of the vote under the group’s longstanding rules for endorsements.

By not endorsing in the At-Large race, the group passed over incumbent At-Large Council member Anita Bonds, a longtime supporter of LGBTQ issues. Bonds is being challenged by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Gore, former D.C. shadow House member Nate Fleming, and former D.C. Council staffer Dexter Williams.

In the hotly contested Ward 3 Council race, nine candidates are competing for the seat being vacated by incumbent Mary Cheh, another longtime LGBTQ rights supporter.

In the race for attorney general, three prominent local attorneys — Brian Schwalb, Ryan Jones, and Bruce Spiva — are competing for the AG position being vacated by incumbent Karl Racine, who chose not to run for re-election.

Capital Stonewall Democrats’ endorsements follow a series of five LGBTQ candidate forums the group held virtually in which most of the candidates running in the various races attended.
In the group’s mayoral form, Bowser was the only one of the four mayoral contenders that did not attend. Her supporters said she had a conflicting event organized by gay Democratic activist Kurt Vorndran that prevented her from attending the Stonewall event.

Those who attended the mayoral forum were Robert White, D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Trayon White (D-Ward 8), and former attorney and community activist James Butler.
A detailed vote tally released by Capital Stonewall Democrats shows the vote count for each of the endorsed candidates as well as candidates in the races for which the group did not make an endorsement.

In the mayoral race, Robert White received 120 votes, or 74.5 percent. Bowser came in second place with 37 votes or 23.0 percent; Trayon White received just two votes or 1.2 percent, with Butler receiving just 1 vote at 0.6 percent. One vote was cast for no endorsement.

In the D.C. Council Chair race, Palmer received 89 votes or 60.1 percent, just surpassing the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement. Mendelson received 48 votes or 32.4 percent. Eleven votes were cast for no endorsement.

In the Ward 1 Council race, Nadeau received 100 votes or 69.4 percent compared to gay candidate Czapary, who came in second place with 23 votes or 16.0 percent. Candidate Sabel Harris came in third place with 9 votes or 6.3 percent, with a no endorsement selection receiving 12 votes or 8.3 percent.

In the Ward 5 contest, gay school board member Parker received 91 votes or 64.5 percent. Candidate Faith Hubbard came in second with 31 votes or 22.0 percent. The remaining candidates received fewer than 10 votes each, including former At-Large and former Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange, who received 5 votes or 3.5 percent.

“Since Capital Stonewall Democrats has only 221 members, and only 163 bothered to vote, this is clearly not representative of the LGBTQ+ community in the District,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who is supporting Bowser for mayor.

But longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate A. Billy S. Jones-Hennin is among the local activists who view the Capital Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of lesser-known challengers – most of whom have progressive, left-leaning views – as a reflection of changes in the demographics of the LGBTQ community and the Stonewall group’s members.

“At the forefront for voters is who they feel can address core problems like crime, open drug transactions, and increased homeless populations,” Jones-Hennin told the Blade. “Just asking voters for support based on their support of the LGBTQ+ community in the past does not cut it,” he said. “We are multi-faceted voters looking for new, more progressive and aggressive leadership.”

The Capital Stonewall Democrats list of endorsements as well as races with no endorsement can be viewed below:

• Mayor: Robert White, with 74.5% of the round one vote
• DC Attorney General: No Endorsement
• DC Council Chair: Erin Palmer, with 60.1% of the round one vote
• Ward 1 Council: Brianne K. Nadeau, with 69.4% of the round one vote
• Ward 3 Council: No Endorsement
• Ward 5 Council: Zachary Parker, with 64.5% of the round one vote
• Ward 6 Council: Charles Allen, with 83.2% of the round one vote
• At-Large Council: No Endorsement
• Delegate to U.S. House of Representatives: Eleanor Holmes Norton, with 69.7% of the round one vote
• U.S. Representative: Oye Owolewa, with 66.1% of the round one vote

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District of Columbia

Pannell resigns in protest from Ward 8 Council member’s LGBT Commission

Says Trayon White has no out member of his staff

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Phil Pannell resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights activist Phil Pannell announced on May 6 that he has resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on grounds that White does not have an LGBTQ person on his Council staff.

White’s office has said the Council member created the commission to “focus on the specific needs of this community” in his role as a supporter of LGBTQ equality.

“For me, this is a major issue of inclusion, affirmative action and diversity,” Pannell said in an email message announcing his resignation. “I as a Black Gay man cannot in good conscience continue to be a member of my Councilmember’s LGBT Commission when he has no one from my community on his staff,” Pannell’s announcement message continues.

“This is hypocritical at best and structurally homophobic at worst,” he said. “I deeply resent and refuse to be used as anyone’s homosexual prop for any purposes. Therefore, I resign from the commission effective immediately.”

In response to a request by the Washington Blade for comment on Pannell’s resignation, Julia Jessie, White’s director of communications, said White’s Council office “follows all legal HR procedures and hires based on experience and skillset.” Jessie added, “As an employer, we do not discriminate or consider a person’s race, color, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity, when making decisions about employment qualifications.”

According to Jessie, “We do, however, harvest a safe and inclusionary work environment where employees who wish to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation of gender identity feel comfortable doing so.”

White’s office released a statement from the Ward 8 LGBT Commission’s chair, Marvin ‘Rahim’ Briggs, saying the commission “regretfully accepts” Pannell’s resignation.

“The Commission will continue to focus on and address issues affecting Ward 8 LGBTQ,” Briggs says in the statement. “We’ll continue to organize to promote acceptance of LGBTQ community diversity and to foster respect and appreciation for each member of the community residing in Ward 8.”

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District of Columbia

Two gay candidates disqualified from D.C. primary ballot

Republican, Libertarian activists withdraw from races

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(Blade archive photo by Aram Vartian)

A member of the Capital Stonewall Democrats, D.C.’s largest LGBTQ local political group, mounted a successful challenge before the D.C. Board of Elections earlier this month that resulted in a gay Republican and a gay Libertarian Party activist withdrawing as candidates for public office in the city’s June 21 primary.

James Harnett, 24, a member of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee and a member of the staff of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), filed challenges to the candidacy of gay Libertarian Party activist Bruce Majors, who was running unopposed in the June 21 primary for the office of both D.C. Delegate to the U.S. House and chair of the Libertarian Party of D.C.

The Board of Elections upheld Harnett’s challenge claiming that Majors failed to obtain a sufficient number of valid petition signatures needed to be placed on the ballot for both offices, according to elections board spokesperson Nicholas Jacobs. Majors withdrew his candidacy for both offices rather than contest the challenge.

The Board of Elections also upheld a challenge filed by Harnett against the candidacy of gay Republican and D.C. Log Cabin Republicans organization member Andrew Desser, who was running unopposed in the primary for the position of Ward 1 Chairperson of the D.C. Republican Committee.

Desser told the Blade he acknowledged that he fell short in obtaining the needed number of valid petition signatures and would not contest the challenge.

Harnett, who appeared to be acting on his own behalf and not representing the Capital Stonewall Democrats in his challenges to Majors and Desser before the election board, did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Board of Elections records showed that he also successfully challenged six other candidates seeking ballot placement in the June 21 primary, one of whom, Lori Furstenberg, was running for mayor as a Republican and another, Corren Brown, was running for mayor as a Statehood-Green Party member.

The others Harnett mounted a successful challenge against were GOP candidates running for the Ward 2, Ward 4, and Ward 7 GOP Chairperson positions; and Leniqua ‘Dominique’ Jenkins, a Democrat running for the at-large D.C. Council seat, who was the only Democrat challenged by Harnett.

Harnett, a former ANC commissioner in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, ran unsuccessfully in 2020 for the nonpartisan office of D.C. Board of Education for Ward 2. Among the candidates he ran against was gay education advocate Allister Chang, who won that race.

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