College Park, Maryland, Mayor Patrick Wojahn resigned 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.
Prince George's County Police Chief Aziz Malik described the case during a press conference on Thursday as "disturbing."
"In so many ways that people count on public officials, people who are supposed to be honest and trustworthy and have a high degree of integrity, it is troublesome," Malik said.
Wojahn had been mayor since 2015 and was previously a city council member.
Wojahn wrote in his resignation letter to the city that "on February 28, 2023, a search warrant was executed on my residence as part of an ongoing police investigation. I have cooperated fully, and will continue to cooperate, with law enforcement."
"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 am stepping away to deal with my own mental health."
Prince George's County Police said it was tipped off by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that suspected child pornography had been uploaded to the messaging site KiK as early as Jan. 10. KiK removed the videos and then informed the NCMEC, which alerted the police on Feb. 17, according to police.
A subpoena was later issued to Yahoo! for information about the email account associated with the KiK account, according to the statement of charges from the Maryland State's Attorney. That Yahoo! account's recovery email was Wojahn's official government email, authorities said.
Police later served a search warrant at the former mayor's College Park home. Investigators recovered multiple cell phones, a storage device, a tablet and a computer, according to police.
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 said they do not believe Wojahn produced the pornography they found. They also said they don't think there is any indication that he used his position as mayor in the case.
Police said they expect additional charges in the case, which is still active and ongoing. If convicted, Wojahn faces up to 360 years in prison.