Loudoun Co. prosecutor recuses himself in Rose McGowan drug case

WASHINGTON — Citing a conflict of interest, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman has recused himself in actress-activist Rose McGowan’s upcoming cocaine-possession trial.

Paul Ebert, prosecutor of neighboring Prince William County, told WTOP that Plowman asked Ebert to take over the case, because McGowan’s attorney, James Hundley, represents Plowman in a federal civil rights case.

“Jim reached out and asked if I could help him under the circumstances,” Ebert said.

Ebert said McGowan, who is charged with felony drug possession, will be tried in Loudoun County. A preliminary hearing scheduled for next week will likely be rescheduled, Ebert said, as McGowan has added two additional attorneys to her team.

McGowan, a leading Hollywood voice against sexual harassment, accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of raping her.

According to an arrest warrant filed by Detective J.C. Hughes of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, a plane-cleaning crew found McGowan’s wallet next to her seat after she got off a flight at Dulles International Airport on Jan. 20, 2017.

The wallet contained two small bags of white powder. According to police, the powder tested positive for cocaine.

On Nov. 14, McGowan turned herself in at the Loudoun County Magistrate’s office. She was released on $5,000 unsecured bond.

The next day, McGowan waived her appearance and was arraigned in Loudoun County District Court.

Ebert said a Loudoun County judge approved the special prosecutor arrangement on Nov. 21.

McGowan has said she intends to plead not guilty. She and Hundley have argued drugs could have been planted.

In a New Yorker interview, McGowan said she believed she was being followed by a detective hired by Weinstein.

Hundley has successfully represented Plowman in a civil suit filed by a Loudoun County resident, who claimed Plowman was unconstitutionally restricting his free speech on the county’s Facebook page.

U.S. District Court Judge James Cacheris, of the Eastern District of Virginia, ruled that Plowman’s office was allowed to remove Brian Davison’s comments, because a Facebook page is a limited public forum under the First amendment.

Davison has appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond.

A spokesperson for Plowman referred all questions to Prince William County prosecutors. McGowan’s attorney, Hundley, acknowledged Ebert will be prosecuting his client.

McGowan faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if she is convicted, Hundley has said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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