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Revenge porn charges don't affect Cambridge mayor leading city — attorney

CAMBRIDGE —A statement from Cambridge Mayor Andrew Bradshaw’s attorney indicates the mayor doesn’t want to step down from his position following his arrest and allegations of distributing revenge porn.

Michael Belsky, an attorney for Bradshaw, said the allegations against his client involve “private matters that are unfortunately playing themselves out in a public forum.”

“Nothing about the allegations in any way affect Mayor Bradshaw’s desire and intent to continue to lead all the citizens of Cambridge,” Belsky said, the same statement he gave to The New York Times.

Bradshaw, 32, was arrested on Monday, Nov. 15, after a criminal information charging him with 50 counts of distribution of revenge porn was filed in the Dorchester County Circuit Court. He was released on his own recognizance just a few hours after his arrest.

The charges stem from a complaint made in May 2021 by a woman who was previously in a relationship with Bradshaw. The alleged victim told police that she discovered nude photos of herself posted on Reddit without her knowledge or consent.

The Reddit photos of the alleged victim contained racial slurs and sexually explicit language. The photos were posted by multiple accounts with various usernames hinting at the name and birthdate of the victim.

Photos were reposted to various subreddits named “HumiliatingComments,” “DegradeThisPig,” “DegradedCaptions,” “Slut” and “needysluts,” according to the charging document. Some post titles also referred to the victim’s weight.

Police were able to trace the Reddit account activity via IP address to Bradshaw’s address in Cambridge.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a $5,000 fine. If Bradshaw was found guilty of every count and ordered to serve consecutive sentences, he could be facing up to 100 years in jail and $250,000 in fines.

During his bail review Monday afternoon, Bradshaw was ordered to not use any form of social media after his release. However, he will have to allow state police and other designated individuals to have access to his devices and accounts as they continue their investigation.

Bradshaw is also required to check in with the county detention center at least once a week as part of his pretrial supervision.

A statement issued by Cambridge City Council President Lajan Cephas on Nov. 15 said the city is aware of the matter involving the mayor and will fully cooperate with officials investigating the case.

Cambridge has a council-manager form of municipal government — meaning the city manager serves as the chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch. The business of the city is unaffected by the matter.

The city council members had no additional comments following their statement due to the active legal situation unfolding.

Maryland laws on revenge porn prohibit the nonconsensual distribution of a private visual representation of another which exposes their intimate body parts or displays them engaged in sexual activity, with the intent to harm, harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce the person depicted, according to a release from the Office of the State Prosecutor.

A scheduling conference for future hearing and trial dates will be held Dec. 6 in Dorchester Circuit Court.

Bradshaw’s arrest and subsequent charges are new updates to a story that began three months ago when a search and seizure warrant was executed on the mayor’s home and offices in city hall on Aug. 4.

Bradshaw took office as the mayor of Cambridge in January 2021, making history as the city’s youngest mayor.

Natalie Jones is a reporter at The Star Democrat in Easton covering crime, health, education and Talbot County Council. You can reach her with questions, comments or tips at njones@chespub.com.

Locals oppose new discharge permit for Valley Proteins

LINKWOOD — A public hearing on re-issuing a permit to allow Valley Proteins to discharge wastewater into local waterways received strong opposition Tuesday night, with many local residents voicing concerns about water quality, strong odors, discharge volume and compliance with environmental standards.

Officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment hosted the hearing in Linkwood on Nov. 16 as a step of the state’s wastewater permitting process, allowing the public to comment prior to formal issuance of a permit.

Valley Proteins is an industrial poultry rendering facility on Linkwood Road, just off U.S. Route 50 in Dorchester County. The plant receives poultry processing waste and processes it again into various components such as pet food. According to MDE, the facility processes approximately 20 million pounds of raw material per week.

The company recently submitted an application to renew the permit to discharge an average of 150,000 gallons of process wastewater and stormwater daily into Higgins Millpond and the Transquaking River, according to a document from MDE. Valley Proteins also requested expansion of their process wastewater flow up to a potential average of 575,000 gallons daily — nearly four times the currently allowed discharge volume.

The existing permit for Valley Proteins was issued in 2001 and expired in 2006, according to Rob Pudmericky, an engineer and project manager with MDE’s wastewater permits program. The company submitted an additional application to renew its permit in 2014, but it has not been officially renewed.

Without a formal renewal, MDE has exercised administrative control to continue to let the plant operate on the expired permit for 15 years. Documents from MDE presented at the hearing state that wastewater discharge permits are required to be renewed every five years.

More than 30 individuals testified at the hearing, sharing their concerns and complaints about the prospective permit. Some comments focused on personal issues, while others addressed the broader environmental impact.

Multiple individuals residing in close proximity to Valley Proteins testified about the odor emanating from the plant — a smell so strong that locals don’t want to open their windows in nicer weather and are unable to enjoy outdoor activities.

During a virtual hearing on the permit in October, the owner of the millpond near the plant reported two dogs belonging to his family died within 24 hours of swimming in and drinking water from the pond. Another resident with property bordering the pond reported seeing a large fish kill to MDE in July 2020, with no action reportedly taken by the agency, according to a statement on the Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth website.

While Alan Girard, Eastern Shore director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, testified at the virtual MDE hearing in October, he brought up additional concerns at the Nov. 16 hearing. Girard pointed to Valley Proteins’s chronic monitoring and reporting violations under the current permit. To make sure the facility is compliant, he suggested monitoring reports should be required to be submitted monthly rather than annually.

“We encourage MDE to issue a final permit with conditions that are protective of water quality, meet TMDL requirements and are fully enforced,” he added.

Paul Allen, a retired science teacher who taught for 17 years in Dorchester County, emphasized that diversity is the most important part of an ecosystem. He said the species diversity in the Transquaking River watershed was “formerly incredible,” but now the only things that thrive in the waters are invasive species. An increase in the amount of discharge from the plant won’t help either the water quality or aquatic life.

“If you increase the volume (of wastewater discharge) by four times, there’s going to be a lot more stuff in the water,” Allen said.

Dorchester County resident Susan Olsen, a board member of Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, said the MDE proposal omitted the “concept of fairness” by allowing Valley Proteins the opportunity to expand its current wastewater discharge.

“What is the rationale for letting them expand?” she asked, pointing out the plant’s history of exceeding limits for nitrogen, phosphorus, fecal coliform and ammonia. “Why should a regulatory government body like MDE allow a fourfold expansion to an industry that has undoubtedly contributed great harm in this watershed?”

Citizens looking to provide additional comments must submit them by Wednesday, Dec. 15. Written comments must be postmarked on that day and directed to the Maryland Department of the Environment. Emailed or faxed comments on the permit must be received by 5 p.m. on Dec. 15. Emailed comments can be sent to michael.richardson@maryland.gov.

Natalie Jones is a reporter at The Star Democrat in Easton covering crime, health, education and Talbot County Council. You can reach her with questions, comments or tips at njones@chespub.com.

Toddville woman finds homes for over 700 pit bulls

TODDVILLE — Tina Hughes has saved and found homes for over 700 pit bulls since 2008. She manages to take damaged dogs and make them whole. Almost without exception, the problem lies not with the dogs but with their owners. She calls her pit bulls her love bugs. After the dogs are rehabilitated, she is super selective about to whom she adopts. No renters need apply. Homeowners with stable lives are preferred.

“You have to pass a background check. You have to have a vet reference, and you have to have your own property. I don’t take apartment rentals, only houses. And I have to have a note from the landlord stating that it is OK. Basically I need to talk to that person face to face so I can see what kind of a person you are. If I don’t like you, you are not going to leave with a dog. Maybe I have been hard on people, but it works,” Hughes said.

“Toddville has been good for the dogs because we have almost eight acres of property. I could put their kennels up and then when they were ready to run, I could just let them out and not bother anybody,” she said.

“A lot of the dogs that have been sent to me have issues. Most of the issues are caused by people. You can get a bad dog that had a bad owner or was in a bad situation. I have had a couple down there that have been kind of fierce. But I keep them for about a year and I work with them and socialize them. I take them to get ice cream and cheeseburgers. Those two particular dogs were adopted. One went to a special needs child in Delaware. The other one went to family with four kids,” Hughes said.

“If you can’t love a dog like you love your family, then you don’t need one,” she added.

Hughes will take dogs of any age but prefers them younger. The training kicks in better with the younger dogs, she said. Even though there are very real costs to what she gives to these dogs, it is not a business. Hughes calls her drive to help these pups a calling. She is on partial disability for arthritis and muscle damage, which pays some of her bills.

“I love these dogs, always have. And for some reason they relate to me. I have gone to places where people say, ‘Oh, be careful. We can’t even get him out of the kennel.’ Really? I spend a few minutes with the dog and bring him out put him in the car and take him home. I think dogs know when they are with someone safe,” she said.

According to Hughes, pit bulls are extremely intelligent. She relies on the dogs themselves when it comes to placement. She puts ads in the paper and gets word or mouth. She has had adopters come back to adopt again.

“I have had a few that knew bad people when they showed up. It didn’t matter if they passed the background check or if they had a pet reference. If my dogs didn’t like them, they weren’t getting one. I want to know about you. Your lifestyle. What you do. How you react to things, and then I will fit you with the dog that is best for you. That has worked for the last 15 years,” she said.

Nearly 100 percent of her dogs have been pit bulls. She has had a couple of Labs and basset hounds. She insists that all of her dogs have had their shots and been spayed. It is sort of a trade. If you have the dog fixed, wormed and vaccinated, she will take on the effort of training your dog. When she first started, she had 10 dogs — 357 people applied and only 10 got a dog.

“I kept one too. He was the real deal. No dirt in him, but you had to know what you were doing with him. I just felt like they were the greatest dogs and were getting a bad rap. If I can just change one person’s mind, that is like a domino effect,” she said.

Pit bulls do have a reputation as aggressive, but she thinks there is a reason for that.

“The stigma surrounds the media, because they feed off of a story thinking ‘Oh this dog killed somebody.’ A lot of people don’t understand there are almost 15 breeds that fall under the pit bull name. Pit bull is not a breed; it is a name. Like is it a Dogo Argentino?” she said. They look like pit bulls but are even bigger. She thinks if you want to change your mind about how safe pit bulls are, you should get one.

“These dogs need to be socialized just like a child. If you don’t teach your child nothing, they will know nothing. If you want a good dog, then you work with that dog and you teach that dog. They are not bred to fight. They are taught to fight,” Hughes said.

Some people do abuse these animals.

“People mistreat these animals and it makes me mad. A guy just got 10 years in Florida for killing a Pitt bull puppy. He should have gotten 20. Because if you don’t hold these people accountable, nothing is going to change,” she said.

They were bred to lead bulls to slaughter in England. A 35-pound pit bull can tow 1,500 pounds. She has a 98-pound dog named Zeus that she is looking to give away for free. If someone was trying to buy a pit bull like Zeus, that would cost about $800, Hughes noted.

“Zeus is just a love bug,” she said.

She has been at this for awhile and is ready to retire. In the beginning, Hughes said she adopted out 127 dogs in a year, which was two or three a week. So she is down to four kennels and only has a few more adults to place. Because of the work involved with the kennel, Hughes said she has not had a vacation in years. She wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.

“I am tired. I don’t regret anything I have done these last 15 years or for these dogs and I do feel like the stigma surrounding these dogs is changing. Almost of my dogs have gone to families with kids on farms. I have had one come back. She bit the man because he was beating his wife. And I told the woman, ‘You got rid of the wrong dog,’” Hughes said.

Condon runs to state title

Cambridge — Three years ago, Cambridge-South Dorchester High’s Sarah Condon made school history when she became the first female runner from a Bayside Conference school to win a state cross country championship on the hills of Hereford High.

Saturday Condon’s younger brother John made a little history of his own, when the Cambridge-South Dorchester High senior won the Class 1A boys’ state title on those same torturous hills in Parkton.

Nine days after finishing second to Bohemia Manor’s Day Leone at the 1A East Region championships at Fair Hill in Elkton, Condon defeated his rival, covering the 3-mile course with a first-place time of 16 minutes, 55.2 seconds. Leone was second, clocking a 17:14.2

John Condon becomes the first runner from a Bayside school to win a boys’ state championship at Hereford since 1985, when Wicomico’s Richard Williams won the boys’ Class B title. Condon also becomes the first Cambridge-SD boys’ state champion since John Wheeler won the Class B (now 2A) title in 1979.

Kent Island junior Sarah Van Ornum, this year’s Bayside Conference and 2A East Region girls’ champion, finished 10th in the 2A race with a time of 20:42.6. Poolesville’s Daisy Dastrup won the girls’ 2A title with a 19:40. Easton’s Sophie Leight was 21st in 22.15.5.

James M. Bennett’s Timmy Synowiec, the boys’ Bayside Conference champion, finished second in the Class 3A competition with a 16:05.9, placing second to Centennial’s Antonio Camacho-Bucks 15:51.4.