REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — LGBT students from Delaware’s Cape Henlopen High School told a community meeting in Rehoboth Beach on Monday night that many of the school’s teachers and the school district’s administrators continue to ignore their calls for help to stop anti-LGBT bullying at the school.
Cape Henlopen High, which is located in the city of Lewes next to Rehoboth Beach, has emerged as a subject of concern among students and parents in recent years over LGBT-related issues.
As they have since 2014, students and parents reached out to the Washington Blade in April and May of this year to express strong concern over the school district’s handling of an LGBT-related matter, this time over what they believed was the forced resignation of popular theater teacher Martha Pfeiffer at Cape Henlopen High allegedly because of her outspoken support for LGBT students.
Officials from the Delaware groups CAMP Rehoboth, Equality Delaware, and the ACLU of Delaware – who initiated Monday night’s meeting – said they were responding to reports about LGBT-related concerns at the school by the Blade and other news media outlets.
Among the recent developments of concern, they said, was the news that a lesbian student at Cape Henlopen High was suspended for wearing a T-shirt she made bearing the words, “Cape condones racism, homophobia, sexism, and bullying.”
An ACLU attorney speaking at Monday’s meeting said the ACLU would look into whether the school’s action over the T-shirt violated the student’s First Amendment right of free speech if the student or other students encountering similar restrictions approach the ACLU for legal assistance.
“As leaders in LGBTQ advocacy, education and community development in Rehoboth Beach and across the State of Delaware, it concerns us to hear of situations in which LGBTQ students may feel unsafe, unwelcome or unsupported at school,” a joint statement by the three groups announcing the meeting states.
“We are inviting students, parents and concerned community members to join us for a community discussion on Monday, June 19…to discuss the culture toward LGBTQ students in Cape Henlopen schools,” the advance announcement said.
About 75 people turned out for the meeting, which was held in a meeting hall at CAMP Rehoboth’s community center building in Rehoboth Beach. Among those who spoke were five LGBT Cape Henlopen High students, several parents, at least four clergy members from Rehoboth-area churches and synagogues, and two attorneys affiliated with the ACLU.
Also speaking were two volunteer mentors who said they counseled members of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club.
Gay student Adrian D’Antoni, who graduated from Cape Henlopen High this month, transgender student Madison Couture, who completed her freshman year at the school this month, and senior Sarah Ross told the meeting they and their fellow LGBT students’ pleas for help about persistent episodes of anti-LGBT bullying have been ignored by most teachers and administrators.
“We have to fend for ourselves,” D’Antoni told the meeting. “It’s the worst feeling on the face of the planet.”
Ross said one of her lesbian friends at the school filed a bullying report with the school administration as part of a procedure set up by school officials to address bullying incidents.
“Nothing happened,” Ross told the meeting. “Boys on sports teams were doing the bullying. She was so upset she stopped going to class.”
Couture, who is openly transgender at school, told the meeting she is frustrated and outraged that despite repeated calls for help by LGBT students, nothing seems to change. She said she was skeptical that anything useful would emerge from Monday’s meeting.
Gay attorney Mark Purpura, who is a member of the board of all three organizations sponsoring the meeting, was among the meeting attendees who expressed a commitment to take action to address the concerns of LGBT students at Cape Henlopen High and other local schools.
“The input from the students who were at the meeting is vitally important,” he said. “It’s very disheartening to hear stories where they feel like they’re helpless and not being supported in the schools. And as an advocate, that’s something that I certainly can’t ignore and I won’t ignore.”
He added, “Obviously we strive to create environments where every child feels safe and supported at school and that’s obviously not happening right now.”
Steve Elkins, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, who served as moderator of the meeting, noted that officials with the meeting’s three sponsoring organizations and representatives of several other LGBT supportive groups attending the meeting have committed to “take action to help improve the culture for LGBTQ students” at Cape Henlopen schools.
He said representatives of the groups plan to coordinate a plan to carry out that action. He was asked after the meeting if the meeting’s outcome fulfilled his expectations.
“It did and actually from that standpoint we got around to saying let’s put our words into action,” he told the Blade. “So if we can take a little bit of action – we’re not going to accomplish everything we want to off of tonight’s meeting. But we certainly can’t get anywhere unless we take that first step forward. And that’s what we hope to do.”
He said about 25 people attending the meeting who are calling themselves “The Council of Elders” signed a list to be part of an action plan.
“Each of those persons will be invited to a not yet scheduled meeting to outline the next steps,” Elkins said. “It will be interesting to see if we can capture the ‘let’s get to work’ excitement that we felt at the end of the [meeting].”
At the start of the meeting, Elkins said the meeting’s organizers decided it would not be appropriate to discuss “personnel issues” related to Cape Henlopen High and the school district. He was referring to news first reported by the Blade that the Cape Henlopen Board of Education voted in January to fire Pfeiffer on grounds of negligence and other allegations at the recommendation of the school’s superintendent, Robert Fulton.
Parents who know and support Pfeiffer said Fulton and the board later agreed to allow Pfeiffer to resign effective at the end of the school year this month in exchange for not being fired.
Students and parents who support Pfeiffer have told the Blade the negligence charge was “trumped up” and they believe the real reason for Pfeiffer’s forced resignation was the administration’s objections to her outspoken support for LGBT students and LGBT rights cases in her role as a straight ally.
When asked to comment on concerns raised by students at Monday’s meeting pertaining to the school’s response to bullying, Fulton said the district has a diverse student population that he considers to be the strength of the district and the community.
“We support all students through various clubs, activities and programs, and we are proud of the inclusive culture found in each of our schools,” he said.
All allegations made by students, including concerns related to bullying, “are treated seriously and thoroughly investigated, Fulton said. “Consequences related to bullying follow our student code of conduct and Board policy.”
Since the time the Blade’s story on Pfeiffer and other LGBT-related issues at the school was published earlier this month, at least one gay teacher and two lesbian students at Cape Henlopen have contacted the Blade to say the allegations by students and parents quoted in the Blade story were either untrue or exaggerated.
They said they believe LGBT students are being treated with respect at the school.
Another teacher at the school, Alayna Aiken, who the LGBT students speaking to the Blade earlier this year said has a reputation for making disparaging remarks to LGBT students, submitted a comment on the Blade’s website version of the story calling those allegations false. The Blade was unable to reach Aiken for comment for its most recent story on Cape Henlopen High, but the Blade included in the story her strong assertions reported in a 2014 Blade story that all allegations against her were false and she has positive relations with her students.
Elkins said he and the others organizing Monday’s meeting decided all matters specifically relating to Pfeiffer, Aiken, or other teachers would be off limits at the meeting.
“The reason is we’re not a personnel committee,” he said. “We don’t have access to any of the information. It would not be fair to her [Pfeiffer] or it would not be fair to the administrators. That’s not what we hoped to do with this meeting. That’s not going to solve any problem,” he said.
“They were alluded to but the purpose of the meeting was to talk about the culture for the LGBT students,” Elkins said.
None of the students or a teacher, Greg Berman, who have disputed assertions by the students who told the meeting that anti-LGBT sentiment and bias is widespread at Cape Henlopen High, spoke at the meeting. Berman, who spoke to the Blade about his views, said he was out of town for the summer and was unable to attend the meeting.
It could not be determined whether students with differing views attended the meeting and chose not to speak.
Chyenne Cole, who identified herself in a June 8 email to the Blade as a gay student, said complaints by several LGBT students against Aiken, who teaches a human development class, were unfounded.
“As an openly gay student who is very liberal and expressive in her opinions, Aiken is fully accepting what I have to say,” Cole said in the email. “In fact, she encourages discussions with many different students about certain issues in an attempt to understand all perceptions,” she said.
Others who attended and spoke included Nancy Maihof, a member of the Delaware State Human Relations Commission. Maihof noted that the commission looked into possible anti-LGBT bias at Cape Henlopen High in 2014 following a Washington Blade story reporting on students’ and parents’ concerns about anti-LGBT bias at that time. The commission has authority to initiate its own investigations into violations of Delaware’s human rights law, which, among other things, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
As part of its findings in its 2014 investigation into Cape Henlopen High, the Human Relations Commission issued recommendations for the school to address and curtail possible anti-LGBT bias.
Karla Fleshman, the LGBT Youth Case Manager for Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Delaware, who was one of the speakers at Monday’s meeting, called on those who will work on the proposed action plan to carefully study the commission’s recommendations and push to make sure the school is adopting them.
D’Antoni, the Cape Henlopen High School student who graduated this year, told the Blade after the meeting that he has “seen firsthand the damage some of these teachers have done to their students, including myself.”
He said the treatment received by some of the LGBT students by teachers is often subtle but has a profound impact on the students.
“Being part of the theater and being part of the GSA and being a part of those weird kids there’s a lot of retaliation from the normal kids,” he said. “Because we’re the weird ones. We’re the ones that like things that are out of the ordinary. And with that comes bullying. With that comes being treated differently by teachers because we’re not an athlete or you’re not a genius mathlete.”
Added D’Antoni, “It’s all about being aware that you’re part of something that is hated. And because we know and we acknowledge that we are different and that we are not treated correctly by anybody, that makes us want the administration to realize it even more and help us because we’re out on a string now. There’s nothing that we can do without help.”
Linda Gregory, president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, was among the panelists who spoke at the meeting. She told the Blade she was hopeful that those participating in the meeting would take steps to bring about a change in the school culture toward LGBT kids.
But she said she and others familiar with Cape Henlopen schools to some degree have failed the LGBT students encountering bullying and other forms of bias.
“They don’t want to hear about meetings or action plans,” Gregory said. “They want to see something real happen.”
Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead
No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise
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.
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
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.
D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested
Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011
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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