They say politics is a dirty game, and that’s certainly the case in Baltimore right now.
38-year-old Kelly Cross is an openly gay legal technical consultant and volunteer civic activist. He’s also one of seven candidates currently running in the Democratic primary for the Baltimore City Council. And he has a sex scandal on his hands.
A little backstory: In 2009, Cross pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of voyeurism as part of a plea bargain. The plea came after he confessed to secretly recording a half naked man, who happened to be a former Boston police officer and former prosecutor with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, as he undressed inside a gym locker room. Police later uncovered video on Cross’s camera that showed several seconds of the man in the locker room. A Superior Court judge sentenced Cross to 180 days in jail, three years of supervised probation and a $50 fine.
Cut to seven years later. Cross is in the home stretch of a hotly contested primary race for Baltimore City Council against six other Democratic candidates. He thought that whole locker room voyeurism thing was behind him. Turns out, it wasn’t.
In the past couple of weeks, at least two different anti-Cross fliers have begun circulating around town. One of them wrongly accuses him of being a “convicted sex offender.” The other exposes his 2009 arrest and includes web addresses to articles about his case, including a 47-page report released by a Hearing Committee of the D.C. Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility last year recommending he have his license to practice law suspended after pleading guilty to “criminal acts reflecting adversely on honesty, fitness, or trustworthiness.”
Cross tells the Washington Blade that the fliers are “homophobic and aimed at discrediting his campaign to become Baltimore’s first out gay member of the City Council.”
He also says he regrets accepting the plea bargain back in 2009, claiming he was intimidated into doing so after police raided his and his husband’s apartment and confiscated their laptops and cell phones. Nothing improper or illegal was ever uncovered on their equipment, and it was later returned to them “wiped clean.”
“In retrospect I should have done that probably–fought harder,” Cross says. “But it seemed like it was going to be too much money and too little upside, especially when all they’re saying to you is pay this fine and take probation and we’ll leave you alone.”
“It was just like OK, fine, leave me alone. This whole thing is going to go away,” he continues. “But it hasn’t.”
Cross believes he knows who might be responsible for the fliers, but he doesn’t want to publicly identify them at this time, though he has begun the process of filing a formal complaint against them.
The Democratic primary election for the Baltimore City Council will be held on April 26.