Mayor Patrick Wojahn of College Park, Maryland, resigned on Wednesday, a day before he was arrested and charged with 56 counts of child pornography.
His charges included 40 counts of possession of child exploitative material and 16 counts of distribution of child exploitative material, according to police.
During a press conference on Thursday, Prince George’s County Police Chief Aziz Malik described the case as “disturbing.”
“It is troubling in so many ways that people rely on public officials, people who are supposed to be honest and trustworthy and have a high degree of integrity,” Malik said.
Wojahn had been mayor since 2015 and was previously a city council member.
Wojahn stated in his letter of resignation to the city that “As part of an ongoing police investigation, a search warrant was executed on my home on February 28, 2023. I have fully cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to do so.”
“While this investigation is not related to any official city business, it is in the best interests of our community that I step aside and do not serve as a distraction,” Wojahn wrote. “I’m taking a break to address my own mental health.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified Prince George’s County Police that suspected child pornography had been uploaded to the messaging app KiK as early as January 10. According to police, KiK removed the videos and then notified the NCMEC, who notified the police on February 17.
According to the Maryland State’s Attorney’s statement of charges, a subpoena was later issued to Yahoo! for information about the email account associated with the KiK account. According to authorities, the recovery email for that Yahoo! account was Wojahn’s official government email.
A search warrant was later served at the former mayor’s College Park residence. According to police, investigators recovered multiple cell phones, a storage device, a tablet, and a computer.
Police said they don’t yet know who the victims are, but they had no indication that Wojahn knew the victims.
According to the statement of charges, police said Wojahn told them during a search on Feb. 28 that he “has viewed and possessed files depicting child pornography.”
According to police, he also indicated that “when viewing these files, he ‘may have passed it on,’ indicating he has distributed files depicting child pornography to other persons.”
Police believe Wojahn did not create the pornography found. They also believe there is no evidence that he used his position as mayor in the case.
Police expect more charges to be filed in the case, which is still active and ongoing. Wojahn faces up to 360 years in prison if found guilty.