COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The mayor of College Park, Maryland, was arrested Thursday on child pornography charges, a day after he resigned from his post, city officials said.
Patrick Wojahn, 47, of College Park, who has been mayor since 2015 and served on the city council since 2007, submitted a letter of resignation effective immediately on Wednesday, College Park officials said in a news release.
He was arrested and charged with 56 counts of possession and distribution of child pornography, according to The Washington Post.
Detectives arrested and charged 47-year-old Patrick Wojahn with 56 counts of possession & distribution of child pornography. https://t.co/Dn9H1kzkh9 pic.twitter.com/TlspmoUmyl— PGPDNEWS (@PGPDNews) March 2, 2023
Forty of the counts were for possession of child exploitative material and 16 counts were for the distribution of child exploitative material, WTTG-TV reported.
If convicted, Wojahn faces up to 360 years in prison.
Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell will serve the city as mayor until a special election is held, the news release stated.
An attorney for Wojahn told CNN in an email that he is “cooperating fully with law enforcement.”
“While too early to comment on the allegations, we will continue to cooperate as the process unfolds,” the email stated.
In his resignation letter, Wojahn said he stepped down as mayor “to deal with my own mental health.”
“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,” Wojahn wrote. “I have great trust in the ability of Mayor Pro Tem Mitchell, the City Council, and our staff to carry forward what we have accomplished.”
According to the Prince George’s County Police Department, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified authorities of a “suspicious social media account” operating in the county on Feb. 17, WRC-TV reported.
Investigators believed that Wojahn was using a virtual private network (VPN) to hide his location when accessing Kik, a social media app, WTTG reported.
Authorities said that Wojahn allegedly uploaded and shared dozens of videos on Kik in early January that depicted explicit sexual acts involving young boys and adult men, the Post reported.
Police obtained a search warrant to search Wojahn’s home on Tuesday, according to the newspaper.
According to court documents, Wojahn waived his Miranda rights and told detectives that he owned the Kik account. He added that “he has viewed and possessed files depicting child pornography.”
Andy Fellows, who preceded Wojahn as mayor, said he was shocked by the arrest and charges.
“I don’t really know what to make of it,” Fellows told the Post.
In a statement, Mitchell said Thursday was “a difficult day” for the residents of College Park.
“Like our community, we are shocked and disturbed by the arrest and charges filed against the former mayor,” Mitchell said. “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 that city services will continue to operate, uninterrupted.”
Wojahn is being held at the county jail, according to police. It was unclear whether he had retained an attorney, the Post reported.