Barry gets year probation in bathroom assault case

Community service ordered

exposure charge is dropped

April 18, 2001|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Former Washington Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. was sentenced yesterday to a year's probation and community service in a dispute with a female janitor who accused him of shoving her in a Baltimore-Washington International Airport bathroom and then exposing himself.

The four-term mayor vehemently denied the allegations. He said he entered the temporarily closed bathroom because - since his 1995 prostate cancer surgery - he needs to urinate more frequently and with greater urgency.

Barry, 65, maintained his innocence yesterday in agreeing to a form of plea before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck. He conceded that prosecutors probably could win a conviction for misdemeanor assault, but he did not admit guilt in the July 2000 incident.

In the deal, the charge of indecent exposure was dropped. If he completes probation successfully, he will have no record.

"Let me just say that none of this happened. If anything, she pushed me," Barry said to a swarm of reporters and onlookers outside the county courthouse in Annapolis.

But he said he went for the plea bargain because "I didn't feel that comfortable with a jury in Anne Arundel County." Barry said he feared suburban jurors might be influenced more by what they heard about him elsewhere than by what they heard in a courtroom. His lawyer also said the plea spared Barry embarrassing testimony about his health.

Barry was videotaped a decade ago smoking crack cocaine in a Washington hotel and left his third term in office in disgrace.

Although Barry considered the plea bargain to be a "victory for justice," he had harsh words for Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee and for Terry Jenkins, 30, the airport janitor.

"Mr. Weathersbee pursued this with a vengeance - tenacious," Barry said. "Mr. Weathersbee ought to be ashamed of himself."

He claimed Jenkins filed charges and a civil lawsuit because she knew who he was and wants money. Her civil suit seeks $300,000 for assault, battery and emotional distress. Barry said, "She is not going to get a penny." Jenkins has maintained her silence.

Barry said, "I didn't do anything to hurt Ms. Jenkins."

But Assistant State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said Barry ignored signs not to enter and pushed the mother of five while she was cleaning a men's room when he could have used a restroom about 10 feet away.

"He pushed her aside just like he pushed the trash can aside," she said.

Leitess said Jenkins, alone in a nearly deserted area of the airport just past midnight July 6, was scared and did not know who the stranger was. She filed charges.

Then, 137 days after the incident, he filed countercharges, which Leitess characterized as an effort to get leverage over Jenkins. Leitess caused the charges to be dismissed, because Barry had maintained that nothing happened in the incident.

Barry sought a jury trial instead of a trial by a judge in a lower court. A half-hour of frenzied negotiations yesterday resulted in the plea bargain.

The deal gave Barry one year of unsupervised probation and 20 hours of community service, and he was ordered to pay $145 in court costs. He also was ordered to stay away from Jenkins, who quit her custodial job in the fall.

Defense lawyer Frederick D. Cooke Jr. successfully opposed Leitess' request for a fine.

On April 2, the Anne Arundel County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked Weathersbee not to prosecute Barry, arguing that he was subjected to a trial only because he was well-known.

Weathersbee's office disputed that, saying the case was being handled like any other misdemeanor case.

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