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‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ disturber now facing jail time

Lexington Park, Md. —  A Leonardtown man will be spending time behind bars following an outburst at the Lexington Park Library during “Drag Queen Story Hour” which the library hosted back on June 23.

Ashley Morgan, 42 of Leonardtown, faced a variety of misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident.  On Aug. 8, Morgan pleaded guilty to the charge of “refusal or failure to leave public building or grounds.” Morgan could have been fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.

Judge Robyn Riddle accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Morgan to the full 180 days, but suspended 170 of those days. Morgan was given the option to serve his sentence on weekends, but he elected to begin his 10 days as soon as possible.

After his time has been served, he will also be facing three years of supervised probation, with the possibility of shifting to unsupervised probation after the first year.

The State called several witnesses to give victim impact statements, including mothers of children inside the library and representatives of Southern Maryland Area of Secular Humanists (SMASH), and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Leonardtown Chapter.

The mothers told the court that they feared Morgan was an active shooter, while a representative from PFLAG Leonardtown asked Judge Riddle to set an example that such behavior would not be tolerated.

Morgan apologized repeatedly to the mothers, saying “It was not [his] intent to frighten the children.” He additionally made note of his past military experience and the contributions he has made in the community throughout his life.

The Drag Queen Story Hour, which organizers said "Captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models" has been a heavily-debated topic since it was first announced. 

The St. Mary's County Commissioners faced legal action from a SMASH affiliate after $2500 was removed from the library's budget and transferred it to the Sheriff's Office to cover security costs from the event. 

In a letter sent by the American Atheists’ Legal Center, the organization claims, “The decision to defund the Library violated Maryland law and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.” 

St. Mary’s County Library Director Michael Blackwell was  present at the hearings, but did not make any statements. Following the trial, Blackwell made it clear he did not want to comment regarding the outcome of the case.

“The library was not involved with that suit in any [way]… I can’t really comment [on] a legal matter,” Blackwell told theBaynet.com. “ I don’t think it’s right to discuss the matters of what a judge decided about what happened in our private meeting rooms.”

Contact Zach at zach.hill@thebaynet.com.

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