Democrat mayor arrested for child pornography
In a disturbing story out of Maryland, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn (D) was arrested Thursday and is now facing charges on numerous counts of possession and distribution of child pornography, as NBC4 in Washington reports.
Wojahn, 47, served as mayor of College Park since 2015, but abruptly tendered his resignation shortly before he was taken into custody on the aforementioned charges, according to the New York Post.
Wojahn's conduct probed
As NBC4 explained, a news release issued by the Prince George's County Police Department revealed that the probe began when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified authorities in mid-February about a suspicious social media account being operated in the local area.
The agency stated, “The image and videos had been uploaded to the social media account in January of 2023” and were believed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to be materials depicting child sex abuse.
“Through various investigative techniques, PGPD investigators discovered the social media account belonged to Wojahn,” the release added.
Officers subsequently served a search warrant on the mayor's home on Tuesday, finding a number of cell phones, a data storage device, a tablet, as well as a computer.
Mayor arrested, charged
Based on what was discovered in the course of the aforementioned investigation, Wojahn was arrested and charged with 40 counts of what was described as “child exploitative material” and another 16 counts of distribution of the same.
After business hours on Wednesday and prior to his arrest, Wojahn submitted a letter of resignation to College Park city officials, as NBC4 further noted.
“On February 28, 2023, a search warrant was executed on my residence as part of an ongoing police investigation,” Wojahn said in the letter. “I have cooperated fully, and will continue to cooperate, with law enforcement. While this investigation does not involve any official city business of any kind, it is in the bests interests of our community that I step aside and not serve as a distraction.”
The City of College Park, for its part, initially issued a statement in which officials thanked Wojahn for his “dedicated service” over a period of years, but later announced that they were “shocked and disturbed” by the accusations against the now-former mayor, according to the Post.
Biden administration ally
The Post further noted that Wojahn maintained strong ties to the Biden administration, recently traveling to the White House for a bill signing ceremony.
Just a few months ago, Wojahn and husband, Dave Kolesar, watched the president affix his signature to the Respect for Marriage Act and to celebrate those in attendance heralded as a milestone achievement in the gay rights movement, as WTOP noted.
“It certainly is a momentous occasion,” Wojahn said at the time, with Kolesar adding, “I think there's a little bit of a 'pinch me, I'm dreaming' aspect to it.”
Back in 2004, Wojahn and Kolesar were plaintiffs in a lawsuit that sought to reverse a Maryland ban on gay marriage, and they ultimately wed in 2011, when the state announced that such unions would be recognized, with full legalization following just months later.
What comes next
WTOP noted that Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz indicated that additional charges against Wojahn could be filed and cautioned that the investigation remains in its early stages.
According to the Washington Blade, Wojahn was slated to appear in court on Friday afternoon for hearing on whether he would be released as his case progresses.
As for his recently vacated mayoral post, a special election will be held within 65 days, with a regular election set to follow in November.
Until the special election results are known, Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell will fulfill the duties of presiding officer in College Park.