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Local
Theaters allowed again in state, but not in Prince George's County

It’s been nearly half a year since movie fans have had an actual theater experience, but that hiatus came to end last Friday.

The Maryland governor’s announcement last week paved the road for the reopening of movie theaters, but Prince George’s County is holding off for now. That decision was not met well by Mid-Atlantic National Association of Theater Owners, Inc.

“We regret that Prince George’s County has made the decision not to open movie theaters,” Mid-Atlantic NATO Executive Director Doug Murdoch said in a statement on behalf of local theater owners.

“This is a tremendous disappointment to our employees, managers, and all moviegoers. The stated rationale for keeping local theater’s shuttered certainly does not align with decisions to open casinos, restaurants, and other like venues. We have reached out to the county to set the record straight on wrongly stated data and commentary around our local theaters. Our hope is for a reevaluation and reconsideration at the earliest possible time,” said Murdoch.

While some theaters in the region have yet to announce whether they will reopen, RC Lexington Exchange Movies 12 in California posted on its website that it is set to light up its screens beginning Friday, Sept. 4.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Chris Kaselemis, St. Mary’s economic development director, said of the reopenings. “There are obviously quality-of-life aspects for St. Mary’s County. It’s important they open.”

Kaselemis said there is likely “pent-up demand” for people to return to social activities like going to the movies or seeing concerts. And while many of the large fall events in the region have already been canceled, he said, “There could be new things pop up.”

Charles County government announced through a press release last Wednesday that it would follow the state’s phased guidelines of Stage Three, including allowing theaters to reopen.

Similarly, “St. Mary’s County is going to mirror what the governor has done,” a spokesperson for that county’s government said Wednesday.

And while entertainment venues in Calvert will likely have the go ahead to open, that county’s health officer advised restraint among residents.

“I’m not going to independently override the governor’s decision,” Dr. Laurence Polsky, Calvert’s health officer, said.

“I do disagree with that decision,” to open theaters, even at 50% capacity, he said, adding that it comes not long before the start of flu season, and just as counties struggle with finding safe ways to bring students back into school buildings.

“I am going to encourage people to use good judgement and avoid crowded places like movie theaters,” the health officer said.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Tuesday afternoon that beginning this Friday, Sept. 4, at 5 p.m. the state would move into its third recovery stage. That includes allowing movie theaters to open at 50% capacity (or 100 people per auditorium, whichever is less), and increasing allowed capacity from 50% to 75% at retail establishments and religious buildings. In addition, outdoor venues where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown outdoors may open to the public at 50% capacity or 250 people, whichever is less, with appropriate health and safety protocols in place.

Stage Three will be implemented in multiple phases based on how virus data trends, and will allow for “a flexible, community-based approach that empowers individual jurisdictions to make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings,” according to a release from the governor’s office.

Jeff Murray, Calvert Marine Museum director, said Wednesday that the new guidance probably won’t have any immediate impact on the museum in Solomons, which is known in part for its large outdoor concerts and intimate indoor shows. The summer and fall concert seasons had already been canceled, Murray said, and the museum’s indoor concert space does not lend itself to social distancing.

“We’re going to bring those concerts back as soon as we can,” he said, adding that he hopes to be able to offer the large outdoor concerts again starting next May.

The museum itself is open, although visitors are asked to get tickets online for a specific two-hour period on a given day. Murray said museum staff sanitize the museum between the two-hour shifts, which currently allow for up to 75 people at a time indoors.

The governor also announced a collaboration with Apple and Google in which Maryland would become one of the first states to deploy a new exposure notification tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Exposure Notifications Express is designed to help public health officials more quickly and easily provide notifications for their residents about potential COVID-19 exposure and guide them on recommended actions, according to the governor’s release, which also said the technology will be optional for users.

“As we move into this third and final stage of our recovery, I want to sincerely thank our doctors, nurses, and public health officials, our small business community, and, most importantly, the people of Maryland who have pulled together over the last five months to respond to this unprecedented challenge with incredible courage and perseverance,” Hogan said.

The governor announced that the State Board of Elections has mailed ballot applications to all Maryland voters and encouraged voters to take advantage of using the absentee ballots or early voting.

Visit governor.maryland.gov/recovery for more information about the state’s Roadmap to Recovery plans.

Twitter: @JesseSoMdNews Twitter: @eliwohlenhaus


Local
Capital Heights woman charged with assault in Calvert

An evening of fishing on the Patuxent River allegedly turned into a night of fighting in Calvert County, leading to a Prince George’s County woman being charged with assaulting a male during a domestic argument in Solomons, police reported.

According to court documents filed by Dfc. William Freeland of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, the incident occurred during the evening hours of Aug. 28 near the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge. Freeland stated he was dispatched to the area of the bridge and saw a man and woman standing next to each other.

The woman, identified as Kathleen Camille Mosley, 37, of Capital Heights, smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech, Freeland stated in court documents.

“Mosley stated that her and [the male] were under the bridge because they were fishing at the pier,” Freeland stated. She confirmed that the two had gotten into a domestic altercation. Mosley did not appear to be injured.

“She then stated that she ‘pushed back’ and then stated that she ‘was a Mosley’ and demonstrated her boxing by punching the air,” Freeland stated in charging papers.

Other deputies spoke with the man who was with Mosley. The officers discovered the male “had injuries to his face, neck and chest. The injuries consisted of scratch marks produced from Mosley’s fingernails,” Freeland stated.

The man, 50, refused medical treatment but agreed to lethality screening. Freeland said the man was deemed as a “high-danger assessment” as a result of the screening. However, the man refused to speak with the local crisis intervention center.

Mosley was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. According to court records, she posted $10,000 bond the following day and was released.

Court records show Mosley is facing a similar charge in Prince George’s County stemming from an incident that occurred Feb. 6.

The court has ordered Mosley not to have any contact with the victim.

Twitter: @MartySoMdNews


Local
Two men arrested for separate child pornography charges

A Fort Washington man was arrested and charged on Sept. 2 by Maryland State Police troopers after a Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation developed evidence supporting charges of distribution and possession of child pornography.

The suspect is identified as Rafael E. Mancia-Hernandez, 26. Mancia-Hernandez is charged with three counts of distribution of child pornography and six counts of possession of child pornography. He was transported to the Maryland State Police College Park barrack for processing.

In March 2020, the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit received a CyberTip report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involving the distribution of child pornography online. The investigation led to the identification of the suspect and his residence in Prince George’s County.

At approximately 6 a.m., Maryland State Police, assisted by the Prince George’s County Police Department and Homeland Security and Investigations, served a search warrant at the identified residence. A preliminary forensic review of the suspects’ electronic devices revealed multiple child pornography files.

Lanham man charged for distribution of child pornography

Troopers arrested and charged a Prince George’s County man early Friday morning after a Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation developed evidence supporting charges of distribution and possession of child pornography.

The suspect is identified as Neri Celio Fernandez, 30, of Lanham. Fernandez is charged with three counts of distribution of child pornography and six counts of possession of child pornography. He was transported to the Maryland State Police College Park Barrack for processing.

Over the course of several months, the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit conducted an investigation into the distribution and possession of child pornography online. The investigation led to the identification of the suspect and his residence in Prince George’s County.

At approximately 4:30 a.m., Maryland State Police, assisted by the Prince George’s County Police Department and Homeland Security and Investigations, served a search warrant at the identified residence. A preliminary forensic review of the suspect’s electronic devices revealed multiple child pornography files.

The Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit coordinates the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. This is a combined law enforcement effort involving police departments across Maryland that is made possible in part due to grant funds provided by the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services and by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Task force investigators focus on identifying those involved in child pornography via the Internet and other related crimes that victimize children.

Twitter: @RyanSoMdNews


Features
Cheer ye! Cheer ye!

There may be a lot of unknowns when the NFL’s Washington Football Team takes to the field on Sunday but one thing is for sure: plenty of fans will be cheering on the team, including two local members of the First Ladies of Football cheerleading team, Jordyn Cristaudo and Alyssa Gaines.

“It makes me really happy and I just love performing and love being part of a team and being surrounded by awesome women,” said Cristaudo, who has been with the team since 2014, the last three as a captain.

“I just love to perform, there’s just something about whenever I’m on stage,” said Gaines, who is entering her first season with the team. “You’d think I’d be anxious or nervous or whatever, but I’m just calm when I’m performing and dancing.”

The two are part of the 36-member unit which has been practicing twice a week since tryouts began in early May. Because of COVID-19, the cheerleaders practice at home.

“It has been difficult,” said First Ladies of Football director Jamilla Keene of the process, which has included video submissions and tryouts via Zoom. “We’ve tried to keep things as normal as possible.”

Cheerleaders must know up to 15 sideline routines, including various genres as hip-hop, jazz and funk. They will start games with pregame promos and performances, including one on the 20-yard line, and also perform fight song and end zone routines.

Four units, each comprised of a captain and up to 10 cheerleaders, will form lines and perform in the four corners of the stadium and rotate each quarter.

“I’m looking for well-rounded individual and some one who speaks well, someone who can represent the team and all of our core values,” said Keene, who was a cheerleader for 10 years and an assistant director for seven more. “And someone who’s looking to learn and grow and be a good teammate.”

Jordyn was a 3-year cheerleader at North Point High School when she was suddenly cut from the squad her senior year.

“I was devastated,” she said. “I’d grown up dancing and cheering my whole life in order to be on a team, so it was a really hard year not being able to cheer with all my friends. In a way, looking back, I am thankful because it led me to audition for Washington football. Everything happens for a reason.”

She took the field for the first time Sept. 7, 2014 in front of 71,770 fans as Washington fell 17-6 to the Houston Texans.

“I’ll never forget my first game because I didn’t know what I was doing but I had a really great captain my rookie year and some strong veterans on my line which helped guide me,” she said. “I just remember being so worried about where to stand, and it felt like I really needed a second to take it all in because I was really worried about doing everything right, but it was a lot of fun.”

“We always knew Jordyn had those special qualities [from her time as a junior cheerleader] and when she grew up and decided to be a First Lady we were super excited,” Keene said. “She’s super sweet, she’s genuine, and she’s always consistently giving back to the team and working really hard.”

Cristaudo also works full-time as a special education instructional assistant in a Southern Maryland high school, takes online classes at Liberty University and coaches a Special Olympics Maryland unified cheer and dance team. She recently wrote a book called “So She Did.”

“I just wanted something with which to focus all of my creative energy into and I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, though I never thought I’d actually do it,” said Cristaudo, who added that illustrator Myketa Harets “helped me make everything come to life. It’s just directed to young girls to show they can do whatever they want in life as long as they believe in themselves.”

Gaines, who spent two years each on the cheer team and dance teams at Huntingtown High School before she graduated in 2017, said it’s been in her blood.

“I have three older brothers so my parents put me in [dance] as a change of scenery,” Gaines said. “I pretty much grew up on stage and start competing at the age of five. I never knew it would stick with me and become part of my entire life.”

She decided to pursue a dance career but said moving to California was not ideal for her.

“[Cheerleading] was a great way for me to stay with my family and still do what I love and still be able to teach,” said Gaines, who teaches dance at two studios, is earning her certification in personal fitness and is going to cosmetology school. “But I had no idea what to expect whatsoever so yes [I was terrified]. It was all on Zoom so it was even more intimidating for me almost.”

Gaines reached out to Cristaudo and said the senior cheerleader helped reassure her.

“She let me know what it was going to be like and encouraged me the whole way,” Gaines said. “But there were pages and pages of girls so every time I would make it to the next round I was just shocked. [The final cuts were] live-streamed on Facebook and I was standing in the dance room of my house and the first thing I did was cry. I could not stop crying for days.”

“This year we saw a lot of new faces and seeing Alyssa I was, ‘Oh OK, I think she would be a good fit for the team’ and during the audition process we take the time to do interviews with all of the candidates and she just has this sweet bubbly personality,” Keene said. “Just the other day I caught her running down the street going to our photo shoot and I was like, ‘Who’s that lady? Isn’t she beautiful? Oh wait, she’s on the team,’ because I hadn’t seen everybody in person yet. It’s just so nice to see how excited she is about the upcoming season.”

The Washington Football Team will open its season this Sunday against NFC East conference rival Philadelphia. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at FedEx Field, although there will be no fans present.

“I want the world to see how hard we’ve been working even with these challenges thrown at us so I’m really proud to be a part of the team,” Cristaudo said. “We’re ready for anything and ready to adapt and adjust and no matter what the season looks like I’m sure it’s going to be great.”

“I just like to perform and the feeling you get is just kind of unexplainable to me,” Gaines said. “I’m just super thankful to be a part of the team and I just hope I get to have an amazing rookie year.”

Twitter: @MichaelSoMdNews


Local
Officer indicted on rape and assault charges

A Prince George’s County Police Department corporal who was arrested in August on charges of attempted rape and assault has been indicted by a grand jury. The seven-count indictment filed against defendant Brian Charles Newcomer, 36, of Huntingtown, charges him with attempted second-degree rape, fourth-degree sex offense, false imprisonment and three counts of second-degree assault. Court records also reveal the grand jury has indicted Newcomer on one count of cruelty to animals.

According to a report from the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division, the incident happened July 31 at the female victim’s residence in Prince George’s County. She reported the incident to police the following day.

Newcomer, a seven-year veteran of the PGPD, was suspended without pay. In a press release, interim police chief Hector Valez called the allegations “deeply disturbing.”

According to a court docket summary, the initial arraignment in Prince George’s Circuit Court is set for Oct. 16.

After his arrest, Newcomer was ordered to be held without bond.

Twitter: @MartySoMdNews


316th Security Forces Group Airmen pose for a photo before a 1.3-mile unity walk at Joint Base Andrews, Sept. 3. Airmen held up their Unity Festival towels to show their support of the event.