A longtime Anne Arundel County employee described in vivid detail Friday how, after County Executive John R. Leopold returned to work following surgery, she emptied his catheter bag “two to three times a day” for 10 months at his insistence.
Patricia Medlin, a 16-year county employee who worked in the county executive’s office in human relations, communications and lobbying and became the scheduler for Leopold, was the first witness presented by State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt in the county executive’s trial in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in Annapolis.
Leopold is facing charges of misconduct in office, including requiring his county-paid security detail to drive him to parking lots for sex with a county employee, help cover up his affair from his live-in girlfriend and run his personal and political errands.
Choking up during her testimony, Medlin said Leopold told her that he could not bend over after back surgery to empty a catheter bag that he had to use and that he would “require” her assistance. Medlin said she had to get on her hands and knees to empty the urine from the bag, which was strapped to Leopold’s leg.
“It was my experience, you don’t tell him ‘no.’ People lost their jobs, I’ve seen it,” Medlin said.
Among the accusations against Leopold was that he required his security officers to work 170 hours of overtime at the hospital where he was a patient, at a cost of about $10,000, to keep his live-in girlfriend from encountering a woman that he was dating who worked for the county parks and recreation department.
Defense lawyer Bruce Marcus told Judge Dennis M. Sweeney that Leopold was an “enigmatic, idiosyncratic” man, who soldiered on despite debilitating back pain with assistance from officers assigned to attend to the executive’s needs.
Sweeney will decide the case, after Leopold waived his right to a jury trial Thursday, a day after questioning of prospective jurors had begun.
Marcus said that prosecutors’ allegations of misconduct incorporate “highly subjective views of conduct” and that no rules or ordinances apply to the case.
“If it was a crime, it was the worst-kept secret in the history of the world,” Marcus said. And it was “committed not only with the knowledge, but absolute complicity, of law enforcement,” he added.
Executive security officers are typically around during some of the most personal moments in the lives of those they are protecting, Marcus said.
The allegations in the case are designed to cause an “emotional” and “visceral response,” but yield at most a “conclusion of injudicious and unseemly behavior ... poor judgment and a lack of social grace” –– not corruption, Marcus said.
His attorney said Leopold developed spinal stenosis, which caused him to undergo two surgeries in 2010, the year he ran for re-election. Due to nerve damage from the first surgery, Leopold was unable to empty his bladder normally, so he had to wear the catheter to collect urine, Marcus said.
Leopold, who will turn 70 next month, tried to keep his health problem quiet because his political opponents were claiming he was old and infirm, Marcus told the court.
The only people Leopold trusted to see him in the hospital were his live-in girlfriend, Jane Miller, and his two regular security officers, Marcus said.
Medlin testified that Leopold called her into his office soon after he was sworn-in in December 2006, told her he appreciated her work and that he wanted her “on his team.”
She took on scheduling his events and meetings and informing his security detail of his schedule, when they needed to transport or accompany him, and how many officers were required.
During his 2010 re-election bid, Medlin said, Leopold gave her 10 campaign signs to place and maintain and that she was afraid to say no, “because he wouldn’t think I was loyal and I’d lose my job.”
Medlin also said Leopold told her to call Connie Casalena, the county employee whom he was dating, and tell her not to come to the hospital. Leopold also said to make sure both protection officers were on duty to keep Casalena from visiting him and encountering Miller, Medlin said.
Testimony in the trial was continuing Friday afternoon and is likely to go into next week.