Patrick Wojahn, the ex-College Park mayor who resigned last week amid dozens of counts of child pornography charges, will be held without bond after a judge ruled Monday he was a danger to the community.
Wojahn was arrested on 56 counts of child pornography charges last week. He faces up to 360 years in prison, though a plea deal would likely lower the sentence. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 31.
Judge Patrice Lewis presided over the hearing at the Prince George’s County District Court in Upper Marlboro. Wojahn wore a bright orange jumpsuit with “inmate” written on the back.
Lewis said Wojahn, who graduated from Georgetown Law School, knows the law and his actions implied that he knew possessing and distributing child pornography was illegal. Wojahn used a Virtual Private Network while using a Kik account to view and distribute child pornography, according to court documents.
“It’s heartbreaking for the city of College Park and for all of our young people to know that people in a position of public trust would alleged to have accessed such images,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said Monday. “Our job now is to hold him accountable.”
A crowd of community members including Wojahn’s husband and mother filled nearly half of the courtroom audience. Wojahn’s attorney, David Moyse, said the crowd was there to argue that while Wojahn’s accused crimes were unjustifiable, he did not pose a danger to the community.
Moyse also argued Wojahn’s actions were prompted by a mental health issue and said Wojahn started mental health counseling the day before he was arrested. He also described Wojahn’s community involvement.
But Lewis said there are no conditions in which releasing Wojahn with bond would not interfere with public safety. The judge refused to let Wojahn’s supporters speak.
“The issue isn’t his community ties, the issue is the danger to the community,” Lewis said.
Jessica Garth, the chief of the special victims and family violence unit at the State’s Attorney’s office, argued “the defendant’s weapon of choice is the internet,” and that there is no way of preventing Wojahn from gaining access to the internet.
Garth argued viewing and distributing child sex abuse material creates a market and demand for the material, which encourages further sexual abuse. She emphasized the long-term negative impacts the distribution of child sex abuse materials has on children.
Wojahn’s arrest came after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alerted police to a Kik account possessing and distributing suspected child sex abuse materials, according to police.
The content was uploaded to the account — which investigators discovered belonged to Wojahn — in January, Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz said at a news conference Thursday.
While searching Wojahn’s residence during a search warrant on Tuesday, the department recovered multiple cell phones, a storage device, a tablet and a computer, Aziz said.
The police chief said he believes there will be additional charges in the case.
College Park city council member Denise Mitchell will serve as the presiding officer until a new mayor is elected. A special election to appoint a new mayor will be held within 65 days of Wojahn’s resignation, per the city charter.
The city and community members were shocked by the charges. The council voted at an emergency meeting Thursday night to remove the former mayor from all boards, committees and positions.