- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2001

Elections in the village of Friendship Heights, Md., this spring have taken an edge never before seen in the quiet community. Several residents have organized to unseat a mayor because he's a convicted sex criminal.
Citizens for Change in Friendship Heights expects to announce soon a slate to challenge the seven-member Village Council, which includes 25-year Mayor Alfred Muller.
Dr. Muller last week pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual abuse stemming from an incident in a Washington National Cathedral restroom. A 14-year-old boy accused the mayor of touching him inappropriately at the urinals.
"He is a physician who has admitted to abusing a child," said Cleonice Tavani, head of the 230-member Friendship Heights Village Civic Association and a declared candidate in the May 14 elections.
"He should be focused on getting his life in order, not holding on to this title."
Mel Krupin, once a maitre d' at the popular political hangout Duke Ziebert's on Connecticut Avenue NW, is likely to run as well.
"I probably will," said Mr. Krupin, who last year showed off the world's largest-ever matzo ball at D.C. Central Kitchen. "I'm testing the waters."
Mr. Krupin says he once told congressmen dining at his restaurant that he wants to be a politician in his next life.
Interested candidates have until April 6 to submit a nomination petition signed by 10 village residents.
The sitting council in recent years has selected a mayor from one of the council members. Ms. Tavani said her slate, if elected, would return the council to a governing body in which each member has equal say.
Dr. Muller, 58, has not publicly said whether he will seek re-election, but he remains mayor despite his conviction. Two members of the council can request his removal, but that is not likely.
The mayor faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine when he appears in D.C. Superior Court on May 11 for sentencing on his plea of guilty. The prosecutors, as part of a plea deal that reduces the original felony charge, say they won't oppose probation.
Dr. Muller did not return a call yesterday. Asked whether the mayor will run again, Village Manager Julian Mansfield said, "I can't answer that. I can tell you he is mayor. I support him."
Montgomery County police said Dr. Muller, a retired physician, must register as a sex offender.
Fliers, signed by the "Friendship Heights Mainstream Committee," appeared around the 32-acre village this week demanding, "Muller Must Resign."
The Washington National Cathedral, where Dr. Muller served as usher to presidents and vice presidents, has dismissed him.
According to legal charging papers, the boy told police he first noticed Dr. Muller in a cathedral restroom about 3 p.m. Jan. 28 looking at him through the mirror, smiling. As both stood at adjoining urinals, the boy said, the mayor reached out and touched him "inappropriately.".
Told of the incident, a cathedral aide recognized Dr. Muller as an usher and recalled a a photograph of him in a recent issue of People magazine. He showed the magazine photograph to the boy, who made a positive identification. Police called the mayor, who said he was at the scene "but," the charging papers say, "he states that the circumstances were different."
Dr. Muller, a veteran of the Vietnam War, will be relieved from his duties as Army Reserve internist, a military spokesman said. According to federal law, pleading guilty to such a crime means "you can't be in the military," said Jim Coles, a spokesman for Army Reserve Command.
Dr. Muller campaigned last year for a village ordinance prohibiting smoking on the sidewalks of the village, located on the Maryland-D.C. line. When a court ruled that the village did not have the authority to enforce such a law the council repealed the ordinance.


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