December 9, 2016 at 9:22 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT police liaison supervisor cited for misconduct
Jessica Hawkins, gay news, Washington Blade

Fox5 News reports that an internal police investigation “sustained” a complaint accusing Sgt. Jessica Hawkins of misconduct. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C.’s Fox5 News reported Thursday night that an internal D.C. police investigation “sustained” an allegation that Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, supervisor of the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, offered to show student interns working at the liaison unit “a homemade video of her having sex with four men while she was intoxicated.”

Fox5, which said it obtained a copy of an investigative report about Hawkins prepared by the department’s Internal Affairs Division, disclosed in its news broadcast that Hawkins also allegedly arranged for two of the interns who were under the age of 21 to join her in consuming alcohol at a gay bar.

“Two separate complainants wrote Sgt. Hawkins’ bad judgment allowed her to ‘take interns assigned to her unit out drinking with other MPD officers at Freddie’s, a well-known LGBT bar in Arlington,’” the Fox5 story quoted the investigative report as saying.

“The summer interns were both under the age of 21,” the story says. “One of them even admitted to having a fake ID and showing it to Sgt. Hawkins, who laughed at it,” says the Fox5 story, which was written and delivered on the air by correspondent Marina Marraco.

“We have no knowledge of the allegations and this is the first we have heard of them,” said Freddie’s general manager, Ross Colbourne, in an email to the Blade. “Freddie’s conducts a very strict ID check policy and does not serve alcohol to anyone under 21,” Colbourne said.

Concerning the allegation about the sex video, Fox5’s Marraco stated in her broadcast, “Hawkins told investigators she pulled out her cell phone and told her interns, ‘If you want to watch it it’s right here’ and admitted to showing others a picture of a ____,” which the broadcast suggested was a sexually explicit scene of someone’s body.

“Both allegations Hawkins admitted were true in an interview conducted with Internal Affairs,” the story says.

“Hawkins in that very interview also admitted to buying alcohol while on duty and drinking the store bought vodka inside an MPD facility amongst others while they were on duty,” the Fox5 story reports.

Hawkins, who’s transgender, made news in March 2015 when then D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier appointed her to head the LGBT Liaison Unit, making her the first transgender person to hold the position.

Transgender activists have praised her for helping to improve D.C. police relations with the trans community at a time when, despite recognized improvements under Lanier, reports of alleged police mistreatment of transgender people continued to surface.

Police spokesperson Dustin Steinbeck told the Washington Blade in a statement on Friday that the department would not be making Sgt. Hawkins available for comment and would not comment on the Fox5 revelations beyond what it released in a statement to the TV news program on Thursday.

“Following misconduct allegations, Sgt. Jessica Hawkins was the focus of a recent Internal Affairs investigation,” the statement says. “That investigation has concluded and the findings are currently with the MPD’s Disciplinary Review Division (DRD). The DRD will review and determine an appropriate penalty,” says the statement.

“Throughout the investigation, Sgt. Hawkins remained in her current assignment and is still widely considered a valuable MPD team member in our Special Liaison Division,” the statement concludes.

Fox5 News reported it learned from sources that the Internal Affairs Division recommended a penalty for Hawkins of a 25-day suspension without pay. Fox5 News correspondent Marraco speculated at the conclusion of her broadcast that the suspension has not taken effect yet because Hawkins may have filed an appeal.

But one source familiar with the MPD told the Blade Hawkins told people she knows she would not appeal the penalty recommended by Internal Affairs.

The Fox5 story on the reported findings of the Internal Affairs investigation into the allegations against Hawkins comes five weeks after Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham confirmed to the Blade that a complaint had been filed against Hawkins, which he said the department was investigating.

The Blade learned about the complaint through sources but could not confirm at the time what the complaint was about.

“It’s a personnel matter so we don’t discuss that publicly because there are rules regarding personnel,” Newsham said in an Oct. 31 interview. “We’re in the process of investigating the complaint and we’ll see what happens when we get to the bottom of it.”

The Fox5 News story also reports that unnamed sources claimed Hawkins’ reputation within the LGBT community came into question due to “allegations she gave preference to concerns from transgender citizens over others.”

According to the Fox5 News story, “Officers claimed her role was undermined amongst her peers after her predecessor and now chairman of the D.C. police [union], Sgt. Matthew Mahl, incited tensions between her and the gay community after Mahl left the unit on bad terms.”

When contacted by the Blade on Friday, Mahl disputed claims that he sought to stir up tension between Hawkins and the LGBT community.

“I’ve had a very positive relationship with Sgt. Hawkins and the members of the GLLU since my departure and have still upheld my role in the gay community even as head of the police union,” he said in an email. “This is the first time I’m hearing of that claim of me undermining her role as the supervisor,” he said, adding “It’s disturbing to me.”

Only two of a half dozen local LGBT activists respond as of late when contacted by the Blade for comment on the Fox5 News revelations about Hawkins.

David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, said the revelations “definitely raise some concerns.” He added, “It would make it difficult for her to continue in her job.”

Transgender activist Ruby Corado, who said she was speaking as an individual and not as head of the LGBT social services group she heads, Casa Ruby, disputed the accuracy of the Fox5 story.

“Everything about this story is so wrong – especially the language used and the one-sided angle,” Corado said. “Whoever is behind this clearly shows their dislike over this woman’s leadership within the department — shame, shame, shame.”

Corado didn’t say what it was about the story she believes was incorrect.

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

  • The last line of the article is telling: “Corado didn’t say what it was about the story she believes was incorrect.”

    Ruby’s refusal to give credit to one of the most supportive police departments in the country is beyond tiresome. Other local trans activists give due credit to MPD, along with criticism as appropriate. Chief Newsham, for example, has been accessible and responsive and honest with us–and trans activists have said so.

    A police sergeant has to show good judgment. The level of punishment for a lapse depends on many factors. But if charges have been sustained, we can hardly with any credibility simply cry “shame!” and demand that improper behavior be overlooked. Our community has long advocated equality as a standard. That means we do not just cherry pick benefits, but embrace the responsibility that goes along with our rights. This can and should be done with compassion. But Ruby’s haste in crying “shame” is unsustainable.

    Part of coming into our own is choosing not to be victims. That doesn’t mean acts of victimization all magically stop; it does mean that we respond to them with self-respect and resolve to be masters of our fates. And we organize, and we change public policies and follow up to ensure they are carried out. We have a long way to go, but we have made progress here in D.C. Refusing to acknowledge this, and refusing to trust allies–including public officials who have worked with us–makes one part of the problem.

  • When I said Shame Shame Shame, I was referring to Fox5 News, they manipulated and sensationalized a story with ONE angle and purpose only.
    (They never covered any positive LGBTQ Stories so this is the best they can do??) I also spoke to the Chief Of Police, Peter Newsham, and many others and I concluded that this story was the result of ill feelings towards a member of the LGBTQ community and that is shameful Yes.
    I NEVER SAID IT WAS INCORRECT. I do not do investigations, i fight injustice! (Did anybody think about this woman’s state of mind??) I did.

  • Isn’t Ruby Corrado in jail yet? Why not?

  • The officer said it was guilty of the charges. What more do the Police need? Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, should be fired. And charged with said crimes.

  • Serious alcohol problem…folks help each other when you see friends going too far.

  • This is an allegation , not a fact. First I believe nothing Fix reports. They are chronic liars as are all republicans/ISIS . How odd we can only hear about a transgender woman’s ALLEGED infractions when things this are going on.

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