Haymarket's Troubles Get More Public

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 23, 2006

There's a new wrinkle in the Haymarket police/mayor/Town Council/pending election saga.

Haymarket Mayor Pam E. Stutz, who is running for reelection, publicly distributed a letter last week criticizing the posting of the town prosecutor's letter of resignation on a Web site.

Under the heading "Caught in a Lie," an anonymous posting on Under the heading "Caught in a Lie," an anonymous posting onhttp://Townofhaymarket.info -- which dubs itself "The Haymarket Smoking Gun" -- displays former prosecutor Cynthia A. Dupray's March 29 resignation letter. Dupray writes in the letter that she is leaving her post because she believes she cannot rely on the accuracy of information provided by Police Chief James E. Roop when prosecuting cases.

Stutz said in her letter that "the unauthorized release of the document" violated confidentiality laws and exposed the town to possible lawsuits.

But Stutz's critics say she is attempting to divert attention from the main issue: that she did not give the letter to other Town Council members when they discussed Dupray's departure at a meeting April 3.

Stutz was asked at that meeting why Dupray decided to leave. "Her reply was that she [Dupray] wanted to leave because of the bad press that the town's been getting," said Timothy M. Benjamin Jr., a former town auxiliary police officer and Stutz's opponent in the May 2 election. "I call for her resignation for misleading the public."

The two letters are the latest addition to an ongoing controversy in Haymarket, a small town of about 1,000 residents that was rocked last year by a probe into accusations of sexual harassment by Roop and Sgt. Gregory Breeden. The Town Council suspended Roop and Breeden for 15 days without pay after a lawyer hired by the council found that the men created a "hostile work environment" through sexually offensive comments.

Stutz has been a supporter of Roop, who recently distributed a letter door-to-door saying he wanted back pay for the 15 days and his name cleared.

At the beginning of the year, the council voted to suspend the town's auxiliary police program because it was overlapping with the full-time officers. The town now has three officers, instead of nine.

The controversy is occurring amid the run-up to the May 2 election, which pits Stutz against Benjamin and includes 10 candidates for the six-seat council.

In her resignation letter, Dupray expresses concerns about Roop giving inaccurate information to the Manassas Journal Messenger newspaper about whether the town had to dismiss cases because a police officer left court early to attend college classes. Without the officer in attendance, the town could not prove the infractions, she said.

"Because I was in Court on the date in question, I know it did" occur, Dupray wrote.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company