August 8, 2016 at 7:27 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Fairfax City mayor to resign over meth-for-sex arrest
R. Scott Silverthorne, gay news, Washington Blade

R. Scott Silverthorne (Photo courtesy of the Fairfax County Police Department)

Fairfax City Mayor R. Scott Silverthorne announced on Monday that he will resign from office on Thursday, Aug. 11, following his arrest last week for allegedly arranging to trade methamphetamine for group sex with other men.

Fairfax County police said they charged Silverthorne, 50, with a felony count of distribution of methamphetamine and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police said the arrest was part of a sting operation in which Silverthorne allegedly gave an undercover detective a supply of meth at a parking lot outside a Tysons Corner hotel in exchange for his participation in an orgy he thought would take place in a room at the hotel.

In a statement released on Aug. 4, Fairfax police said Silverthorne met the undercover detective posing as a willing sex partner through a website used by men to arrange for sex with other men. Police said they targeted Silverthorne for investigation after they received a tip from someone who told police the Fairfax City mayor was using the website to exchange meth for sexual encounters.

Police have not disclosed the name of the website.

Silverthorne’s arrest shocked members of the Fairfax City Council, other city officials and many of his constituents, who have praised him as a dedicated public official credited with bringing about positive change for the city.

He served nine terms on the Fairfax City Council, from 1990 to 2008, and had been elected to a third term as mayor in May of this year.

Gay activists, including a spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that helps to elect openly LGBT people to public office, said Silverthorne’s sexual orientation was not known to them and he never sought the endorsement of the LGBT rights group.

“Victory Fund has never worked with or had any contact with Silverthorne, so we are unaware of his sexual orientation,” said Elliot Imse, the group’s director of communications.

But his attorney, Brian Drummond, told the Washington Blade on Monday that nearly all of his colleagues on the Fairfax City Council and in Fairfax political circles knew he is gay.

“It was the worst kept secret in Fairfax,” Drummond said. “He had actually come out some years ago, but it didn’t really take. People kind of blew it off. And he didn’t make any kind of great announcement.”

Drummond declined to comment on the charges pending against Silverthorne other than to say his client has waived his right to be present at an arraignment scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10, in Fairfax General District Court.

Silverthorne, who was released on personal recognizance following his arrest, will next appear in court on Oct. 31 for a preliminary hearing. Prosecutors must establish at that hearing probable cause that he committed the offenses with which he is charged in order for the case to proceed to trial.

When asked if he knew the name of the website police used to ensnare Silverthorne, Drummond said, “I’m not at liberty to disclose it.”

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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