Former DC Mayor Charged with Stalking Girlfriend
July 6, 2009 - 1:13 PMAn attorney for former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry said Monday he's confident that a stalking charge filed against the veteran politician by a former girlfriend will be dropped.
At a news conference Monday, attorney Frederick Cooke said Barry vehemently denies the allegation by Donna Watts-Brighthaupt. Barry, a current D.C. Council member, stood behind Cooke outside city hall but said nothing.
"We believe that the charge stems from a personal relationship that has gone horribly wrong in a lot of ways," Cooke said.
He added that Barry will remain on the council, despite this latest round of legal troubles.
"This is unfortunate, but it's not a distraction of such a proportion that it would keep Mr. Barry from attending to the business of the council and the citizens of the District of Columbia," Cooke said.
Barry, 73, and Watts-Brighthaupt, 40, were on their way to Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Saturday for an Independence Day party when they stopped for a meal in Annapolis, Md. That's when Watts-Brighthaupt changed her mind about the trip, Cooke said. The two returned to Washington, and a U.S. Park Police officer arrested Barry on his way home from her house, Cooke said.
In a rambling statement released Monday, Watts-Brighthaupt appeared to deny that she accused Barry of stalking her.
"It is senseless to publicly and 'officially' accuse Marion of stalking after having a meal with him an hour earlier," she said, going on to cite Barry's previous trouble with the U.S. Park Police. In 2002, Park Police said they found traces of drugs in Barry's car.
"Once prosecutors conclude their findings and substantiate their charge, I could only hope that the consequences are just," Watts-Brighthaupt said. She did not immediately return telephone calls seeking clarification.
The conflict between the two apparently started last Tuesday when Barry felt threatened by Watts-Brighthaupt's ex-husband and asked that he be barred from city hall, Cooke said.
He questioned Watts-Brighthaupt's credibility, saying she changed her story from the time when police said she accused Barry of chasing her.
Barry is still married to Cora Masters Barry but the two have been separated for years.
The former mayor will appear in court Thursday to learn whether the U.S. attorney will file formal charges.
Barry is currently on probation in a federal tax evasion case. The arrest was not likely to affect Barry's probation, unless he is convicted of the charge, Cooke said.
Barry served four terms as Washington's mayor. In his third, he was videotaped in 1990 in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting. He served six months in prison and in 1994 regained the mayor's office.
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