Beach Trip With Ex-Girlfriend Canceled Before D.C. Council Member Marion Barry's Arrest

By Tim Craig and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

They didn't even make it to the Bay Bridge before the argument started.

D.C. Council member Marion Barry and his ex-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt were on their way Saturday afternoon to Rehoboth Beach, Del., a favored destination for the recently split-up couple.

They had a spat over lunch in Annapolis, called off the weekend and headed home.

Within hours, Barry (D-Ward 8) was in jail, arrested once again by the U.S. Park Police, this time on a misdemeanor stalking charge. There are three accounts of the events that led to Barry's latest run-in with police.

There is no disagreement that the couple returned to Watts-Brighthaupt's home in Southeast Washington, where her ex-husband, Delonta Brighthaupt, was staying to watch her West Highland terrier. After some time, Barry left in one car, and Watts-Brighthaupt and Brighthaupt left in another. Both cars ended up in Anacostia Park.

It remained unclear yesterday why Barry's behavior might have warranted his arrest. Barry's attorney said the charge was "baseless."

Park Police said a woman -- presumed to be Watts-Brighthaupt -- flagged down an officer to report that a man in a vehicle was "bothering her." Watts-Brighthaupt said that she didn't flag down an officer but spoke to police immediately after Barry was pulled over and that she has agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Sgt. David Schlosser, a Park Police spokesman, said he would not comment on why Barry was arrested, other than to say he gave police "probable cause."

Barry has had two previous run-ins with Park Police. In 2002, Park Police said they found traces of marijuana and crack cocaine in his car. Barry said the drugs were planted. No charges were filed. In 2006, Park Police pulled Barry over for driving too slowly and cited him for driving on a suspended license; he accused the agency of unfairly targeting him.

Details about the latest incident emerged yesterday as Barry and his attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., held a news conference on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building to tell Barry's side of the story. Cooke, who would not let Barry speak, accused Watts-Brighthaupt of "instability." Cooke said Barry will not resign his council seat because he thinks the charge is "baseless" and will be dropped.

"We believe the charge stems from a personal relationship that has gone horribly wrong," Cooke said.

In an interview yesterday, Watts-Brighthaupt, 40, reiterated that she did not want Barry to be arrested. But now, she said, she plans to cooperate with prosecutors deciding whether to move forward with the charge.

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