Claims of a cover-up on Leopold are a lie, the police chief says

The Baltimore Sun

A police officer who responded to an anonymous 911 call about apparent sexual activity in what turned out to be Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold's car last month at a mall parking lot did "absolutely nothing wrong," and rumors of "some type of cover-up" are an "out-and-out-lie," the county police chief said yesterday.

"Nobody asked anybody to cover anything up," Col. James Teare Sr. said. "From pauper to politician, from immigrant to industrialist, we are going to treat all people equally. There is no double standard."

Teare also said that he had been contacted by the state prosecutor's office within the past two weeks, but he believed the office, which looks into allegations of government corruption, had closed its investigation.

In accordance with standard protocol, State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh would not confirm or deny that an investigation had been opened.

About 5:40 p.m. Jan. 30, a 911 caller told dispatchers that he had seen "naked people" in a black Chevrolet parked near Nordstromin the Westfield Annapolis mall lot and he believed they were engaged in a sexual act.

Officer Melvin R. Foster III pulled into the lot within two minutes. He initially drove past Leopold's car, then stopped behind the Chevrolet Impala, which bears the plates "County Executive 1."

"It's the county executive himself in the back seat," Foster told the dispatcher in a recording released to the media. Foster did not see another person leaving Leopold's car and looked through the windshield to determine no one else was inside, Teare said.

"Mr. Leopold was fully dressed and wearing his notable red sweater vest," Teare said. "The officer did not detect anything to lead him to believe that there was a crime afoot." Foster determined that the call was unfounded, and no report was written. Three back-up officers were dismissed and did not arrive at the mall lot, Teare said.

The chief said he heard about the event but did not discuss it with Leopold until he began receiving questions from the media Feb. 9. "There have been some allegations ... that after this stop by the officers that there was some communication between Mr. Leopold and myself, some type of cover-up," Teare said. "That is an out-and-out lie."

At a County Council meeting last week, Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks, who, like Leopold, is a Republican, asked the chief to come to Monday's council meeting to address questions regarding whether police respond differently to calls involving elected officials than other citizens. The chief said he planned to attend.

An article in yesterday's editions incorrectly described how an Anne Arundel County police officer drove up to the car of County Executive John R. Leopold in a mall parking lot after an anonymous 911 call. The police officer stopped in front of Leopold's vehicle.THE BALTIMORE SUN REGRETS THE ERROR
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