MARYLAND

John Leopold's trial begins

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The jury selection and trial for Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold is underway.

Leopold's troubles began in Jan. 2009. A man spotted the executive's black Impala in the Annapolis Mall parking lot and called police.

"I see activity...doesn't seem proper...looks like sexual activity to me. I'm not positive, but it looks like naked people in the car," the caller told the 911 dispatcher.

A responding officer found a clothed Leopold alone in the back seat of the car. The call was deemed unfounded, but in the eyes of many voters, the damage was done.

Denine Cole of Annapolis said, "For him to be in the position he's in, I had more respect for him. I thought he'd use better judgement."

After a two year investigation by the state prosecutor, Leopold was indicted last spring. He stands accused of improperly using his police security detail to take him to sexual encounters in the mall parking lot. It's also alleged that he used his officers to help him steal opponent's campaign signs and illegally used law enforcement data bases to create mud files on political enemies.

Attorney John Singleton is watching the trial closely. He represents several women suing Leopold for sexual harassment. 

"This is the tip of the iceberg with regard to many of the allegations...," Singleton said.

Leopold has denied any wrongdoing and is fighting the charges.

He and his lawyers declined to comment now that the trial is underway.

If convicted on all counts, the 69-year-old could face five years behind bars.

Annapolis resident Jay Graham said, "I'm disappointed. When he ran for election, it was as a reformer. I think that was the basis under which he was elected, so it's very disappointing."

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