Police in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have arrested and charged Patrick Wojahn, the mayor of College Park, with possession and distribution of child pornography. The mayor has since resigned.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted Prince George’s County police on Feb. 17 about a social media account operating in the county that possessed and distributed suspected child pornography, according to a news release.
“Through various investigative techniques, PGPD investigators discovered the social media account belonged to Wojahn,” the news release said.
According to charging documents, police allege Wojahn used an anonymous account to upload a variety of illegal content to Kik, a mobile messaging app, in early to mid January. Kik then notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Using records subpoenaed from internet service providers, police said investigators traced the account to Wojahn. Police carried out a search warrant at his home on Feb. 28, seizing multiple cellphones, a storage device, a tablet and a computer.
Wojahn was arrested Thursday morning and charged with 40 counts of possession of child exploitative material and 16 counts of distribution of child exploitative material. He is being held at a county correctional facility.
In a statement, the City of College Park said Wojahn submitted a letter of resignation late Wednesday night effective immediately. He had served as the city’s mayor since 2015 and was previously on the council since 2007.
“I have cooperated fully, and will continue to cooperate, with law enforcement,” Wojahn wrote in the letter. “While this investigation does not involve any official city business of any kind, it is in the best interests of our community that I step aside and not serve as a distraction.”
The City of College Park said it was “shocked and disturbed” by allegations against the now-former mayor.
“The city knows that this news is distressing and difficult for our community, and we encourage our residents to seek any help they feel necessary to work through this trying time,” it added.
Area residents reacted to the news with surprise and embarrassment. Speaking to WTOP’s Scott Gelman outside City Hall, College Park resident Drake Allen said he was shocked by the allegations, adding that it is a sign the city was headed in the wrong direction.
“I don’t know if this is going to wake anybody up. It should, but it probably won’t,” Allen said, adding that he wishes the city’s next leader be “just a regular mayor who does his job.”
Resident Michael Weaver, who’s lived in College Park for 20 years, said a friend texted him about the news and couldn’t believe it.
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Weaver said. “It’s terrible.”
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Chief of Police Malik Aziz said the investigation into Wojahn was still in its early stages, and further charges were possible.
Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell will serve as the presiding officer until a special election is held and the city’s new mayor is sworn in. The election must be held within 65 days.
“Today has been a very difficult day for the residents, staff and elected officials of College Park. Like the rest of the community, we are shocked and disturbed by the arrest and charges filed against the former mayor,” Mayor Pro Tem Mitchell said at an emergency community meeting held Thursday night.
“As this is an ongoing and active investigation, the city will respect the judicial process and cooperate fully with the investigation. While we continue to process everything that has happened today, city services and work cannot and will not stop. It is vital for our community and our residents to know the city services will continue to operate uninterrupted.”
During that meeting, members of the council voted to remove Wojahn from all boards and committees of which he was appointed to.
Wojahn is married to an employee of Hubbard Radio Washington D.C., which owns WTOP.
WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez, Scott Gelman and Ciara Wells contributed to this report.