Everhart speaks out on eight-year-old charges
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherdstown Town Councilman Mark Everhart, who is also a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates, issued a public statement this week acknowledging that he did plead guilty to two counts of violating a protective order in 2012 in Baltimore County, Md.
Susan Pipes, a board member of Women’s March WV, called for Everhart’s resignation from the Town Council when she sent a letter to Mayor Jim Auxer earlier this week.
“Mark Everhart, who is currently serving as a member-at-large on the Shepherdstown Town Council and running for WV Delegate, District 67, has had some dozen court documents appear from his past apparently having been convicted of domestic violence,” Pipes wrote.
Pipes could not be reached for further comment.
According to a statement and subsequent interview with Everhart, the incident in question came at the end of a previous relationship and charges stemmed from alleged emails Everhart sent the accuser. Everhart said that at no time had he had physical contact with the accuser before or after a protective order was issued.
“I had no idea how I had violated an order when I had no personal contact,” Everhart said as he explained his arrest in 2012. Initially, one charge was filed, after which he was released on personal recognizance. When he appeared in court, additional charges were filed, all from alleged email contact Everhart contends did not occur.
“Bail was initially set at $250,000, late in the evening,” Everhart said.
When Everhart appeared before the judge the next day, the judge denied bail altogether. After further appeal, the bail was set higher still, and Everhart’s hope was simply to be released. He was later offered a plea deal, wherein he would plead not guilty on all counts, be found guilty of two minor counts and be given a short term of unsupervised probation.
“It would have taken months to go through the process of the court. The only way to get out of Baltimore County Jail was to take the deal,” Everhart said, mentioning no evidence was produced to find him at fault. “I could have had all of this expunged from my record, but I have never tried to hide it.
“It is alarming, but not unsurprising, that supporters of my opponent would spread inaccurate information in an attempt to derail the momentum and support my campaign has built over the past several months. Five minutes of simple research should be enough to see that their claims are false,” Everhart said, mentioning if he had ever been convicted of a domestic violence related crime, he would have had to forfeit his 2nd Amendment rights.
“I am a proud and legal gun owner,” Everhart said, “and have a West Virginia Concealed Carry License issued by Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty. If I had been convicted of this crime, I would not have received my permit.
“All of these events occurred in 2012,” Everhart said. “They are well in my past and are certainly not indicative of my character as evidenced by the good work I’ve done during my two terms as councilman in Shepherdstown and the good work I continue to do as a candidate for the House of Delegates.”
In fact, Everhart says the entire incident made it clear to him of the need for reform in the criminal justice system.
“This is something I am passionate about, and I hope to advance related legislation on the issue during the 2021 legislative session,” Everhart said. “These events have no bearing on my life today-I have a stellar record as a councilman. I am moving forward with my campaign and I am not resigning.”
Everhart shared Tuesday that he has filed an Elections Complaint Form with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office citing Pipes, his opponent, Del. John Doyle who currently holds the seat in the 67th District, David Levine and Progressive Jefferson, a Facebook group.
The complaint alleges the named individuals violated W.Va. C.S.R. 146-3-12, a segment of the West Virginia Code stating “No person may publish, issue or circulate, or cause to be published, issued or circulated, any anonymous letter, circular, placard, radio or television advertisement or other publication supporting or aiding the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.”
“Elections should be about policy, which is what I have focused on from the beginning,” Everhart said. “I feel confident that the voters will elect the best candidate in November.”