WASHINGTON – Friendship Heights Mayor Alfred Muller pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he sexually abused a 14-year-old boy in the basement of the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.
The mayor, who may be best known around the country for pushing a recent ban on smoking on all public property in the Montgomery County village, was released on personal recognizance after an arraignment in D.C. Superior Court.
He was released on the condition that he not have contact with anyone under 16 years of age without another adult being present, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. District Attorney in Washington.
Muller denies all the allegations, said his attorney, who promised to pursue a “vigorous defense” of his client.
“This is a very serious allegation. . .(Muller) takes this matter very seriously,” said Preston Burton, the attorney.
Muller, 58, admits to being in the bathroom in the basement of the cathedral Sunday around 3 p.m., but told police that the circumstances were different from what the boy reported.
Police reports said the boy was visiting the cathedral on a school trip and was in the bathroom checking his contact lenses when Muller walked in and smiled at him in the mirror.
The boy then walked up to the urinal next to Muller. When the boy unzipped his pants to urinate, Muller reached over with his right hand and grabbed the boy’s penis, according to police records.
The boy ran out of the bathroom and reported the incident to his friends and chaperone, who reported it to cathedral staff.
Moments later, one of the boy’s friends spotted Muller leaving the building. A security officer asked Muller to stop, but he got into his car and drove away, according to police records.
Metropolitan Police later interviewed Muller who, accompanied by his lawyer, turned himself in to police around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Burton said Muller, who has been mayor for 25 years, has no prior arrest history. He is scheduled to be back in D.C. Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 21.
Friendship Heights Village Council Chairman Frank Valeo, who has worked with Muller for more than 10 years, said he gives the mayor the benefit of the doubt.
“The man I know is not capable of this,” said Valeo, who has lived in the village for 25 years. “I have very high regard for him.”
The tobacco ban in the 5,000-person village that hugs the Montgomery County-D.C. border was temporarily blocked last week by a county judge. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15 to see if that injunction will be made permanent, according to published reports.