Local digest: D.C. Council aide fired

May 31, 2013
THE DISTRICT
Council aide fired over use of funds

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie said Friday that he had dismissed an aide who spent $225 from a constituent service fund on personal expenses.

McDuffie (D-Ward 5) said in a news release that the problem was discovered during a routine review of the account, which is funded by private donations and is intended to pay for various citizen needs.

McDuffie did not identify the employee. But Tim Clark, who had served as a community affairs coordinator in McDuffie’s office, acknowledged that he had been fired, and he took responsibility for misusing a debit card linked to the constituent service account.

“It was stupid. It was a mistake,” said Clark, who was dismissed Thursday. “If I was a council member, I wouldn’t tolerate it either. It looks bad.”

Clark said he used the debit card on two occasions to pay bar tabs. The first time was inadvertent; the second time, he said, “was a bad decision for me to have made.”

Clark said he also planned to resign from his Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat, which he has held since 2010.

— Mike DeBonis

Woman abducted, sexually assaulted

A woman walking along a street near Congress Heights on Wednesday afternoon was abducted, forced into a sport-utility vehicle and sexually assaulted in Southeast Washington, D.C. police said.

Authorities said that three men were in the SUV and that the attack occurred about 3:30 p.m. in the 3700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. Police said the woman was taken to a location she did not recognize, sexually assaulted and let go.

Police classified the crime as a first-degree sexual assault and a kidnapping. There was no description of the attackers, and the vehicle was described only as dark in color.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call D.C. police at 202-727-9099 or send a text message to the department’s tip line at 50411.

— Peter Hermann

MARYLAND
Officer charged with taking illegal photos

An off-duty Prince George’s County police officer was charged Wednesday with taking sexually explicit photographs of a woman without her consent, a sex crime under Maryland law.

If convicted, Cpl. Christopher Adams, a seven-year veteran of the county force, could face jail time and be listed on the state’s sex-offender registry.

County police released few details of the incident, saying that the woman contacted police and that the department launched an immediate investigation. Police said that the incident occurred March 17 at a hotel and that the victim was an acquaintance of Adams’s. He has been suspended with pay, police said.

Adams has been charged with three counts of visual surveillance with prurient intent, each of which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, authorities said.

According to the Maryland criminal code, the charge typically involves taking pictures of “the private area of an individual by use of a camera without the consent of the individual under circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that the private area of the individual would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether the individual is in a public or private place.”

Adams also faces a second-degree assault charge in connection with the picture taking.

— Aaron C. Davis

Death-penalty-repeal attempt falls short

The law repealing Maryland’s death penalty will take effect as scheduled Oct. 1 after opponents failed to collect enough signatures to put the issue to a statewide vote.

MDPetitions.com, the group that helped put same-sex marriage and two other issues on last year’s ballot, confirmed at a Friday afternoon news conference that it was unable to replicate its success. Facing a midnight deadline to submit an initial batch of signatures, the group instead ended its effort.

“There’s just not a natural constituency to go to,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger (D), a supporter of the death penalty who worked with the group.

Meanwhile, Free State Petitions, a separate group trying to halt Maryland’s new gun-control law, remained mum about its progress as the deadline approached.

Both groups were trying to put new laws championed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on hold pending a November 2014 vote. To comply with a constitutional requirement, petition-gatherers were scrambling to present the first third of a required 55,736 signatures to the state Friday. If that threshold was crossed, the remainder would be due a month later.

Maryland becomes the sixth state in as many years to abolish capital punishment. The legislation was a priority this year for the NAACP and the Catholic Church.

Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, said she was not surprised that the petition drive fell short. “My gut had told me it was going to be a real challenge,” Henderson said. “People are comfortable with this.”

— John Wagner

Annual housing fair set for Landover

Prince George’s County is holding its annual housing fair Saturday, featuring a housing lottery, information for prospective buyers and more than 60 exhibitors. There also will be classes for teens on how to manage money.

The fair will offer a foreclosure-prevention workshop, where residents can meet with bankers and housing counselors and have a free consultation with a lawyer. For information on what documentation to bring, visit mdhope.org. Prince George’s leads the state in foreclosures, though recently there have been signs of an uptick in the county housing market.

The free event is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.at the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex, 8001 Sheriff Rd., Landover, near FedEx Field.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) is scheduled to announce at noon the random selection of two pre-qualified purchasers who have taken part in a lottery to buy homes in Suitland at reduced prices.

— Miranda S. Spivack

Pr. George’s police close dance studio

Authorities in Prince George’s County have padlocked a popular Capitol Heights dance studio for allegedly hosting a Memorial Day weekend event that led to a nonfatal, triple shooting a quarter-mile away.

Seize the Dance hosts lessons in youth ballet, jazz, hip-hop and zumba at its industrial studio at 9251 Hampton Overlook. But at night, police say, owners rent out the facility for parties and did not have the required county permits for one on May 25 that preceded a nearby shooting.

A phone call and e-mail to the studio were not immediately returned Friday.

Police say three male victims of a shooting near Hampton Park Boulevard and Hampton Overlook had just left a gathering of high-school-age students at Seize the Dance. The shooting occurred just after midnight Sunday.

County police said that two adults and a juvenile were wounded and that all have been released from the hospital. Seize the Dance will remain closed pending the outcome of an appeals hearing, police said.

— Aaron C. Davis

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