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Judge denies bail for gay former College Park mayor

Court documents include graphic description of images in child porn allegations

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Patrick Wojahn will remain in jail on child porn charges after a judge declined bail. (Photo courtesy of the Prince George's County Police Department)

A Prince George’s County District Court Judge on Monday, March 6, ordered gay former College Park, Md., Mayor Patrick Wojahn held in jail without bond following his arrest last week on 56 counts of possession and distribution of child pornography.

“His husband and mother were both in the courtroom and were crying and hugging after the decision was made,” Channel 9 reporter Evan Koslof reported in an online post.

The denial of bond means Wojahn, 47, must remain in custody until at least March 31, when he is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing related to the charges against him, a clerk of the court told the Washington Blade.

In a development that shocked College Park officials and LGBTQ activists who knew and worked with Wojahn on LGBTQ rights issues for many years, Wojahn resigned as mayor on March 2, hours before his arrest and two days after Prince George’s County Police Department investigators executed a search warrant at his College Park house.

In a statement released on the day of his arrest, police said they confiscated during the search multiple cell phones, a storage device, a tablet and a computer, which contained evidence that Wojahn allegedly had downloaded at least 56 videos or still images of child pornography. The statement said police charged him with 40 counts of possession of “child exploitative material” and 16 counts of distribution of “child exploitative material.”

The statement said the investigation into the allegations remains open and active. Later on the day of his March 2 arrest, Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz said at a press conference that authorities anticipate filing additional charges, but he declined to say what those charges might be.

In his letter of resignation, which College Park officials publicly released, Wojahn said he fully cooperated with police at the time they searched his home and he planned to cooperate further.

“While this investigation does not involve any official city business of any kind, it is in the best interests of our community that I step aside and not serve as a distraction,” he stated in his resignation letter. “I am stepping away to deal with my own mental health,” he wrote. “I ask that you continue to keep me and my family in your prayers.” 

In one of two detailed charging documents filed in court, Prince George’s County Police Det. J. Spicer, the lead investigator in the case, states that at the time police executed their search of the Wojahn residence police read to him his Miranda Rights to remain silent, which Wojahn waived and provided police with a statement.

In his statement, according to Spicer, he confirmed what investigators found in their earlier search of online records that Wojahn allegedly downloaded files containing child porn videos and child porn mages on the app known as KiK under the disguised username of “skippy_md.”

“He also indicated that when viewing these files, he ‘may have passed it on,’ indicating he has distributed files depicting child pornography to other persons,” Det. Spicer states in the charging document.

In the same charging document, Spicer provides a one or two sentence description of what each of the 56 video or still image files that Wojahn allegedly downloaded, possessed, or distributed. Most of the detective’s descriptions say the video or image show a “prepubescent male” engaging in sex with another “prepubescent male” or with an adult male. Other descriptions say the prepubescent male was engaging in masturbation.

In a separate statement of charges prepared by Spicer filed in the District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County, which is in Upper Marlboro, Wojahn is charged with 16 individual felony counts of knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute an image or a video that “depicts a minor engaged as a subject of sexual conduct.”

Written next to each of the 16 charges, which bear a coded number for the specific video or image Wojahn allegedly distributed, is the potential penalty of 10 years in jail and/or a $25,000 fine.

The same document charges him with 40 individual misdemeanor counts of possession of videos or images “showing an individual under 16 years of age engaged in sexual conduct.” The document shows that each of those charges carries a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

If convicted on all 16 counts of possession with intent to distribute, Wojahn could theoretically be sentenced to 160 years in jail and/or a fine of $400,000. However, legal observers have said prosecutors in cases like this often extend a plea bargain offer with a reduced number of charges in exchange for a guilty plea.

Wojahn’s attorney, David H. Moyse, has said it was too soon for him to comment on the case other than to reiterate that Wojahn “has been cooperating fully with law enforcement throughout this process and will continue to do so.”

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Maryland

Silver Spring Pride sign rebuilt in memory of beloved neighbor

GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $4,000

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Tony Brown's neighbors help repaint the Pride sign his late partner created in their Silver Spring, Md., neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Molly Chehak)

Residents of Silver Spring’s Rosemary Hills neighborhood have come together to rebuild a Pride sign. 

The sign was constructed in June 2020, and was meant to stay in place throughout Pride Month. Neighborhood residents, however, requested it stay up past its intended month-long display, and has remained in place for more than four years. 

The sign spelling LOVE is at the neighborhood’s entrance between Sundale and Richmond Streets. It was made from plywood and the O was painted in the colors of the Pride flag.

“We wanted to take it down, but we just felt it was not ours anymore and belonged to the neighborhood.” Tony Brown told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview. “It was a positive thing for the neighborhood and began to take on a life of its own.” 

Brown and his partner, Mike Heffner, designed the sign and said the Black Lives Matter movement inspired them to create it as a strong symbol of an accepting community.

The sign was vandalized numerous times last fall, resulting in neighborhood residents taking turns repairing it. Brown and his partner could not do the repairs themselves because Heffner was fighting Stage 4 lung cancer.

Heffner passed away on Oct. 6, 2023.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help raise funds for the replacement Pride sign, and it has raised more than $4,000. The replacement sign is more permanent and made of metal.

“I can’t speak for the neighborhood overall, but people who knew Mike I think are happy that we were able to honor his memory with this sign because this sign is so him,” Molly Chehak, a friend who lives next door to Brown, told the Blade. “He (Heffner) was an outgoing super social (person) who just made you feel good the way this sign does. It’s a perfect tribute to him.” 

Chehak and other neighbors created the GoFundMe account.

Heffner’s family and his neighbors are still working to rebuild the Pride sign. It has become a memorial to Heffner.

“We wanted to do one that was clearly a Pride reference,” said Brown, noting the L is a fully painted Pride flag that spirals across the entire letter. 

“For the O we wanted to do something reminiscent of times in the past, a throwback to the 60’s and 70’s so it’s a hippie montage of flowers and butterflies,” he said. 

Brown described the V as being colorful, nonbinary people hugging each other with the idea that love is more than what one may see. 

“During COVID, he had started painting rocks and putting kind and fun messages on them leaving them around places as sort of a pay it forward Karma and so the E is basically that stylized writing and to embrace a bunch of ways we embrace love,” he said. 

The final letter had the phrase “love is love” written repeatedly in various handwritings to pay homage to Heffner and what he did for his neighborhood during the pandemic. Brown’s four daughters — one of whom is a professional artist — and their friends designed it.

The landscape around the sign has also been transformed with rocks that honors Heffner’s love for Rosemary Hills and his passion for rocks.

Chehak also said Heffner always wanted a bench, and neighbors are looking to install one soon next to the Pride sign.

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Maryland

Trans woman wins Miss Maryland USA, making history with a list of pageant firsts

Bailey Anne Kennedy won crown on June 1

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Bailey Anne Kennedy smiles with tears in her eyes as she holds a bouquet and wears a tiara and Miss Maryland 2024 sash. The previous year's winner adjusts her sash and other beauty pageant contestants smile and applaud behind her. (Photo by Anthony M. Gomes/Miss Maryland USA)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | She’s 31. She’s married to a military officer. She’s Asian American. And she’s a trans woman.

When Bailey Anne Kennedy was crowned on Saturday as Miss Maryland USA, she broke almost every barrier that existed in the state’s pageant history. And she did it with her first pageant.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Maryland

How Hogan, Alsobrooks are courting LGBTQ support in Md. US Senate race

Republican former governor marched in Annapolis Pride Parade

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Larry Hogan, middle, U.S. Senate candidate and former governor of Maryland, hugs supporters as he marches in the Annapolis Pride Parade and Festival on June 1, 2024. (Photo by Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

BY PAMELA WOOD | With a rainbow sticker affixed to his campaign ballcap and another on his black polo shirt, Larry Hogan zig-zagged from one side of the street to the other, shaking hands and posing for selfies at the Annapolis Pride Parade on Saturday afternoon.

The former governor, now a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, was marching in his first-ever Pride Month event. “How you doing? Happy Pride!” he said to obliging parade-watchers. Others quietly dodged Hogan and a few openly booed him.

“Get Republicans out of Pride!” one person shouted.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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