Earlier this week the mayor of Cambridge was arrested and charged with 50 misdemeanor counts for violating a Maryland statute commonly known as the revenge porn law. The 32-year-old defendant is a graduate of Penn State University and a lifelong resident of Dorchester County. When elected in January he became the youngest mayor in the history of Cambridge, and now it appears his time in office will end just shy of one year. The charges were filed in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County via criminal information on November 15, which is the same day the arrest warrant was served. This means the mayor likely knew about the pending charges in advance, and had time to hire counsel and plan a date to surrender to law enforcement. The mayor was released on his own recognizance the same day he surrendered, likely as a result of his lack of prior record, strong ties to the community and voluntary surrender with counsel. A scheduling conference is set for the first week in December, and from there status, motions and trial dates will be set. Trial will likely be set sometime around April or May, but there is a good chance the case may be resolved before then.
According to the 27-page charging document the mayor’s ex-girlfriend contacted law enforcement back in May when she discovered nude photographs of herself on a social media platform. The victim apparently told law enforcement she only sent the pictures to one person, the mayor, and never gave him permission to distribute or post them. Law enforcement then traced the origin of the posts back to an IP address tied to the mayor’s home in Cambridge. In total the defendant was charged with 50 counts in violation of Maryland law section 3-809, which is part of the stalking and harassment section of the criminal code. This offense was created back in 2014, and is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count. In order to establish a violation of this offense the state must prove the defendant knowingly and without consent distributed a visual representation of another engaged in sexual activity or with intimate parts exposed with the intent to harm, harass or intimidate the person depicted. It seems clear from the charging document that the images meet the criteria, and the victim did not consent. Therefore, all that is left to prove is that the defendant himself knowingly posted the pictures.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor, which is an independent office that was established in 1976 in order to combat public corruption. The creation of this office may have stemmed directly from the outrage over the Watergate scandal during Nixon’s presidency. Functions of the office include investigating, and if warranted, prosecuting government officials, employees or institutions that are alleged to have engaged in offenses such as bribery, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, voting law violations, misconduct in office and any other criminal offense. The State Prosecutor’s Office is located in Towson, and is a separate entity from the Attorney General’s Office. Located in Baltimore City, the AG prosecutes public corruption as well as complex multi-jurisdictional criminal schemes such as gang activity and drug distribution rings.
The Blog will continue to file this high-profile case, and may post a follow-up article when the case is resolved. The story has already appeared in national news outlets such as CNN and the New York Times, and will likely continue to appear in headlines across the country. If you have been charged with a crime anywhere in Maryland including Dorchester County and the entire Eastern Shore, contact criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation. Benjamin specializes in public corruption cases such as misconduct in office, bribery and extortion. He is experienced at defending all types of domestic violence and harassment and stalking charges such as telephone misuse and revenge porn. Benjamin also defends clients charged with all types of sexual offenses in state and federal court. Contact Benjamin at 410-207-2598 to discuss your case today.