Arlington, VA

Update on 6/24/20 — Schaeffer just announced his retirement.

Earlier: Shirlington-based Signature Theatre says newly-revealed sexual assault allegations against its leader “are false, misleading and without merit.”

Actor Thomas Keegan made the allegations public via social media on Sunday, after challenging Signature on a statement expressing a commitment to social justice. He says Signature co-founder and artistic director Eric Schaeffer repeatedly grabbed his genitals during a local theater awards show in 2018.

Yesterday, the theater — which in 2014 received a $5 million loan and rent abatement on its Shirlington location from Arlington County — responded with a statement (below) saying the allegations were investigated and found to be “not credible.”

Signature Theatre strives to play a positive role in our society and part of doing this is listening to our community in an open and fair manner. Living up to these values means taking all allegations of inappropriate or illegal actions seriously and then acting on those complaints according to robust and fair policies.

In May of 2018, Signature Theatre received a complaint concerning Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. The Signature Board took the complaint seriously and immediately hired outside counsel to conduct a third-party inquiry and Mr. Schaeffer was put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the inquiry.

The third-party investigation was independent and involved numerous interviews with the complainant, Eric Schaeffer, current and former Signature staff along with attendees at the event where the incident allegedly took place. The investigator also did a comprehensive review of pertinent records including extensive email records and text messages.

The investigation concluded that the allegations were not credible. Signature’s Board of Directors unanimously accepted the investigation’s conclusions and Mr. Schaeffer was returned to his duties. The matter was then closed and no charges or actions against Signature or Mr. Schaeffer were ever filed. Recent allegations about this incident asserted on social media are false, misleading and without merit as evidenced by the independent investigation.

Keegan asserted that “at least one other actor I know was assaulted by Eric.” He also said that he told the Washington Post about what happened the day after the alleged assault; a search today found no articles on the topic.

Keegan’s full Twitter thread, with his account of what happened, is below.

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Morning Notes

Coronavirus Cases at Arlington Nursing Home — “Rossie Bratten, a 21-year-old Virginia resident, is calling on nursing homes to be more transparent about COVID-19, claiming an Arlington facility caring for his mother never informed the family of positive cases at the site. Bratten claims they only called to be told their mother had tested positive.” [Fox 5, YouTube]

Construction Continuing at DCA — “The coronavirus pandemic has slowed air travel to a trickle, but it has not hindered Project Journey at Reagan National Airport. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports that the new 14-gate north concourse at Reagan Airport remains on schedule to open in July 2021.” [Washington Business Journal]

Bullet Hole Found in Roof of Douglas Park Home — “At approximately 2:31 p.m. on April 13, police were dispatched to the report of a missile into occupied dwelling. Upon arrival, it was determined that contractors performing maintenance on the victim’s house located a hole in her roof and recovered a bullet in the crawl space. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [Arlington County]

Sen. Ebbin Lauds Signing of Marijuana Bill — “The prohibition on cannabis has for too long had life long impacts on Virginians and disproportionately affected communities of color. Thank you @GovernorVA for signing my and @C_Herring’s bills to decriminalize marijuana.” [Twitter]

County Observes Sexual Assault Awareness Month — “Arlington County’s Project PEACE is recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) with virtual observances and daily online opportunities. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, survivors of sexual assault need support, champions and affirmation of their stories and voices.” [Arlington County]

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Arlington County Police are asking for the public’s help in a sexual assault case.

Police say a woman was grabbed from behind, pushed to the ground and sexually assaulted while walking up to her apartment around 11:30 p.m. last Wednesday. The incident happened on the 200 block of N. Piedmont Street, in the Buckingham neighborhood near Ballston.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect involved in the sexual assault of a female victim in the Buckingham neighborhood.

At approximately 11:35 p.m. on November 27, police were dispatched to the report of a woman screaming and subsequently the report of a possible rape in the 200 block of North Piedmont Street. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim exited a vehicle and was returning to her residence when the unknown male suspect approached her from behind, grabbed her and pushed her against another vehicle. The suspect told the victim not to yell, then pushed her to the ground and sexually assaulted her. The victim began screaming, prompting the suspect to flee in a vehicle prior to police arrival. Responding officers established a perimeter and canvased the area with negative results.

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned Hispanic male, approximately 5’3″, with short, cropped dark hair, wearing dark pants. The vehicle, described as a white van, last seen heading South on North Piedmont Street.

This remains an active investigation. Anyone with information regarding the identity of this individual, details surrounding the incident, and/or home surveillance that may assist the investigation is asked to contact Detective J. McGrath of the Special Victim’s Unit at 703-228-4244 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Sietsema’s Dining Guide Includes Arlington Spots — Out of 77 restaurants on Washington Post food critic’s prestigious  annual Fall Dining Guide, four are Arlington-based or have Arlington outposts: Thai Square on Columbia Pike, Sfoglina in Rosslyn, Jaleo in Crystal City, and Buena Vida in Clarendon. [Washington Post]

Dance Flash Mob in Ballston — “Flash Mob in #Ballston! Volunteers and @BMDCdance treated @marymountu’s Ballston Center students to an impromptu performance at the Fall Wellness Fair! #LifeisFull” [Twitter]

Man Arrested for Sexual Abuse of Child on Metro — “Patel was stopped by MTPD officers shortly before 6 p.m. after a juvenile male victim reported that the suspect sat next to him and then groped him aboard a Yellow Line train traveling between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations. The train was in the District of Columbia at the time of the offense.” [WMATA]

ACPD Encouraging ‘See Something, Say Something’ — “While the overall crime rate is down regionwide, in 2019 there’s an increase in the number of people calling police in Arlington, Virginia; and the police chief thinks it is because people are becoming engaged with law enforcement. And that’s a good thing.” [WTOP]

‘Trail Rage’ Incident in Arlington — “At approximately 4:50 p.m., the victim and a friend were riding their bikes along the Custis Trail when they had a brief exchange with the suspect who was traveling by bicycle in the opposite direction. The suspect later caught up to the victim on the trail, became aggressive and struck the victim’s bike with his tire, before the victim was able to ride away. The suspect again caught up to the victim, attempted to grab his personal belongings, before the victim kicked the suspects’ bicycle and rode away.” [Arlington County]

Lee Highway Planning Meeting Today — “From 12-3:30pm: Lee Highway-area residents, business owners, community members and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend the Plan Lee Highway: Open Design Studio.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Nearby: Rabid Raccoon in Falls Church — “On October 4, a sick raccoon was euthanized by City of Falls Church Police in the area of Lea Court and S. Spring Street. On October 9, the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed that the raccoon was suffering from rabies. In this case, there was no human exposure to the animal, however, the community should be cognizant of the rabies threat at all times.” [City of Falls Church]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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The Arlington County Police Department has arrested a man on charges of sexual assault and fraud after police say he cornered a woman and stole her credit cards.

Officers were dispatched to a reported assault at 7:42 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 on the 1700 block of Crystal Drive  — an area near the Crystal City Metro station — per an ACPD press release.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was inside a business when an unknown male suspect entered, cornered her and made inappropriate sexual comments,” the press release noted. “The victim yelled at the suspect and forcefully pushed him away, prompting him to flee the scene on foot prior to police arrival.”

Arlington resident Yohannes Gebreyesus, 36, was apprehended by officers nearby a day later.

A patrolling officer arrested Gebreyesus near the Crystal City Metro on Sunday, July 14, after Gebreyesus had made several purchases with the stolen credit cards, police said.

Gebreyesus was charged with one count of Attempted Rape, two counts of Credit Card Theft, one count of Credit Card Fraud, and a warrant for a previous felony violation of his probation.

A man matching Gebreyesus’ name previously pleaded guilty to three charges of grand larceny for stealing vehicles between 2012 and 2018, according to county court records. Arlington County Circuit Court records note that the Yohannes Gebreyesus charged with the 2018 grand larceny violated his parole in April.

The full press release from police is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Police Nab Sex Assault Suspect — “Following a tip from a member of the public, the suspect has been identified as Wondimagegn Azemach, 19, of Riverdale, Maryland. He has been charged with Abduction with Intent to Defile and Sexual Battery.” [Arlington County]

Fire at Ambar in Clarendon — A small fire temporarily closed Ambar restaurant in Clarendon during prime brunching time on Saturday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Board Approves Va. Square Development — “The Arlington County Board today approved a plan to replace aging commercial buildings on the northwest corner of Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road, in the Ballston-Virginia Square neighborhood, with a seven-story apartment building that will include 16 affordable units and achieve LEED Silver energy efficiency.” [Arlington County]

GW Parkway Sinkhole Work Continues — “The repairs to a crumbling section of the George Washington Parkway between Turkey Run Park and the Capital Beltway are now expected to continue through most of the summer. The long-term repairs to a failed drainage inlet will keep at least one right lane on the parkway closed for 10 weeks once the contractor is ready for work, the National Park Service said Friday. Engineers have determined that a 60 year old brick drainage structure buried deep under the parkway needs to be replaced.” [WTOP, Press Release]

Fire Victim Identified — The person killed in an apartment fire in the Ashton Heights neighborhood last week “has been identified as Brian Green, 50, of Arlington. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.” [Arlington County]

Football Team Joins Arlington Chamber — “Welcome new member @Redskins! We are thrilled to have you as part of our membership at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.” [Twitter]

County Kicks Off Census Effort — Arlington County and its Complete Count Committee (CCC) are gearing up for the 2020 Census – working toward the goal of counting every Arlingtonian… It’s not too early to get acquainted with the Census and what to expect next year.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington County Police are looking for a man they say sexually assaulted a woman in Crystal City this morning.

The incident happened around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, in a commercial building on the 1500 block of Jefferson Davis Highway, police said. A man followed a woman inside and elevator and “then inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted the victim before witnesses entered the area, causing the suspect to flee the scene on foot,” per a police press release.

Police are now looking for the suspect and asking for the public’s help in locating him. They released surveillance video of him in a nearby underground walkway (below).

The full ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking the public’s assistance identifying and locating a suspect involved in the sexual assault of a female victim in the Crystal City neighborhood.

At approximately 8:39 a.m. on June 13, police were dispatched to the report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown male suspect followed the female victim into a commercial building in the 1500 block of Jefferson Davis Highway. The suspect cornered the victim inside an open elevator, preventing her from leaving. The suspect then inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted the victim before witnesses entered the area, causing the suspect to flee the scene on foot.

The suspect, who was captured on surveillance video, is described as a black male, approximately 6’0″ tall with an athletic build. He was wearing a black shirt, dark pants, and sneakers at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident is asked to contact Detective S. Gomez of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit at 703.228.4173 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) County officials are hosting an event this week about the #MeToo movement and how men and boys can stop sexual harassment.

The event is called “#MeToo: Being Men-Raising Men” and aims to create a “community discussion about masculinity and the role of men in addressing sexual assault and harassment in our community,” per a county press release. It comes at a time when officials say they’ve seen increases in requests for “sexual assault services across Arlington County… from police to advocacy and hotline to medical services.”

The event is the latest response from officials following a 2017 survey indicating as many as half the APS female students in grades 8, 10, and 12 have been sexually harassed at school.

The discussion will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Arlington Central Library Auditorium.

Officials from APS, ACPD and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office will speak at the event.

Also attending are representatives from groups dedicated to combatting sexual violence based in the county’s Department of Human Services, INOVA Loudon Hospital, and abuse hotline Doorways for Women and Families.

The event is a sequel to last year’s discussion, which was entitled #MeToo: What Men, Boys, and Everyone Need to Know.

Arlington County is planning several other events this month in honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Upcoming events include a poetry night at Metro Stage on Tuesday, April 16, and a rally at Gateway Park, near Rosslyn Metro, on Thursday, April 25.

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Update 10/30/18: Timothy Day has been arrested, according to Metro Transit Police. Officers are now trying to determine if there are additional victims in the case.

Earlier: Police are looking for a registered sex offender from Maryland who’s accused of touching a woman inappropriately on a crowded Orange Line train.

The alleged incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 21. Metro Transit Police say a 24-year-old woman at the Court House station reported that she was on the train when “a male subject who was not known to her placed his hand on her buttocks.”

“She also observed him standing ‘abnormally’ behind another female patron and put his hands down his shorts and ‘adjust his crotch area,’ said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. “The victim stated that the suspect followed behind another female patron as he got off the train at Foggy Bottom.”

After a review of video footage and other evidence, Transit Police identified the suspect as Timothy L. Day, 58, of Rockville, and charged wim with assault. As of Friday evening a warrant was issued for his arrest but he was not yet in police custody.

Day is a registered sex offender, according to MTPD. He was previously accused of other sexual crimes on a Boston MBTA subway train in 2004 and a Metro train in Arlington in 2002, according to news reports.

“Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call MTPD,” said Stessel.

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Arlington County Police have arrested a suspect in the attempted rape of a woman near Columbia Pike on Friday.

Police say Jermaine Johnson, a 30-year-old Arlington resident, broke into an apartment on the 800 block of S. Frederick Street, brandished a knife and tried to sexually assault the victim. She suffered minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital.

The perpetrator fled the scene of the crime, evading a police K-9 track and helicopter search, according to a police press release.

On Saturday police announced that Johnson was the suspect, “based on crime scene evidence collected and witness interviews.” Later that day, officers conducting surveillance in the Courthouse area saw him and gave chase. From ACPD:

While conducting surveillance in the 1700 block of N. Troy Street, officers observed the suspect flee from a residence. Following a foot pursuit, Jermaine Johnson was apprehended and taken into police custody. He has been charged with attempted rape and burglary and will be held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.

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Update at 1:40 p.m. — The Arlington County Police Department has released a description of the man that police say attempted to sexually assault a woman in the Arlington Mill neighborhood this morning.

Police were unable to find the suspect despite an extensive search. More from an ACPD press release:

At approximately 9:05 a.m. on April 20, Arlington County Police were dispatched to the report of a late assault in the 800 block of S. Frederick Street. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m., an unknown male suspect forced entry into a residence, brandished a knife and attempted to sexually assault the female victim. The victim suffered minor physical injuries and was transported to a local hospital. The suspect fled the area prior to police arrival.

The suspect is described as a black male, 20-30 years old, approximately 5’7″ tall with short cropped hair. He was wearing a black shirt and black jeans at the time of the incident.

Detectives from the Special Victim’s Unit are actively investigating this incident. Responding officers established a perimeter, canvassed the area and spoke with possible witnesses. Arlington County canine units attempted a track of the suspect and the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Unit provided an aerial search with negative results. Officers will continue conducting extra patrols in the area.

If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective J. Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4241 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Earlier: Police are actively searching for a suspect following an attempted sexual assault this morning.

A man armed with a knife strangled and tried to sexually assault a woman in the Arlington Mill neighborhood, according to scanner traffic. A responding officer reportedly spotted a man matching the description of the suspect, but he was able to flee on foot.

Police officers, a K-9 unit and the Fairfax County Police Department helicopter are now searching the wooded area around Glencarlyn Park for the suspect.

Campbell Elementary School has been secured while the search is in progress.

Photo via Google Maps

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