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Wednesday, March 08, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Ministry Leader Accused of Raping Woman

Fort Washington Church Suspends Member Over Charges in Fairfax City

A ministry leader at one of Prince George's County's largest churches has been charged in Fairfax City with raping and beating a woman in a hotel parking lot in January, and this week he was suspended from his church duties.

The Rev. Eugene A. Marriott Jr., 41, of Clinton was the "minister of men" at the 10,000-member Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, one of the largest AME churches in the country. Marriott was arrested Jan. 14 and spent four days in the Fairfax County jail before a $20,000 bond was set. The church placed him on administrative leave with pay.

But after learning details of the attack on the woman from a reporter, the church on Monday suspended all of Marriott's rights and privileges within the church. It would not discuss whether he was still being paid.

Marriott said he could not comment, on the advice of his attorney, Bobby Stafford of Alexandria. Stafford said, "I never discuss a pending legal case."

According to Fairfax County court records, Marriott and the woman, 34, left the Taj Bar and Grill at the Best Western Hotel on Chain Bridge Road shortly before midnight Jan. 14 and walked to Marriott's Saab sedan. The woman told police that once inside the car, Marriott became angry, began to hit her, forced her to perform oral sex, dragged her out of the car and raped her on the car.

Marriott then threw the woman to the ground, beat her and raped her again, according to search warrant affidavits by Fairfax City Detective Edward Vaughn.

The woman said Marriott then tried to force oral sex again when police officers arrived and arrested Marriott, about 12:20 a.m. The woman suffered numerous cuts, scrapes, bruises and "marks that appear to have been caused by a belt," Vaughn observed, and "was stunned by the attack and emotionally distraught."

Vaughn wrote that he interviewed Marriott, who told him that the assault was "a form of role-playing" and that, as part of his alternative lifestyle, he had posted photos of himself and others engaged in various sex acts on the Internet. Police then seized Marriott's laptop computer.

Marriott has a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Fairfax General District Court on charges of rape, forcible sodomy, malicious wounding and abduction with intent to defile.

In 2002, Marriott was charged in Prince George's District Court with second-degree assault on his wife, Chandra D. Marriott, also a minister at Ebenezer. Court records indicate that Marriott threw his wife on a couch and hit her on the hand and leg with a belt.

The charge was dismissed after Marriott completed counseling and refrained from violent contact with his wife, court records show.

On Sunday, the Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of Ebenezer, asked people attending the 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. services to pray for a member of the ministerial staff. Although he did not mention Marriott by name, most of the church's staff and many members had heard about the allegations.

"This is a time of prayer for our congregation," Browning said Monday.

Marriott balanced duties as a lay church leader while running a computer firm that specialized in educating and training people for careers in computer science. Court records indicate that he also works as a loan officer in McLean.

He also was the leader of a group in which men openly shed tears to God, embrace each other and shed all pretense as they practice a faith that is raw and interpersonal. Ebenezer attracts men from all walks of life, ranging from elected officials and business executives to football coaches and bus drivers.

"You can't have power until you receive Holy Ghost power," Marriott once said in an interview.

One of Marriott's specialties was hosting "for men only" events, either at a conference center in Leesburg or at out-of-town venues. These gatherings were seen as a time of fellowship in which men could talk and improve their marriage and family life.

After he was released on bond Jan. 18, one of his conditions was that he stay out of Virginia. But last month, he persuaded a Fairfax judge to allow him to enter the state for his job as a loan officer and "for scheduled speaking engagements."

Marriott said in a 2000 interview that he joined Ebenezer in 1993. He said at the time that Browning and other church leaders encouraged him to launch a private computer school, the Computer Trainer, which he said then had projected revenues of $2.5 million annually.

At the time, Marriott was also a seminarian. He said he was attracted to Ebenezer because the men were different than the type one finds in church.

"The men were not like the stereotype I had of a Christian man," Marriott said. "Instead, I could identify with them. They were strong men who had goals and desires. They were police officers, in the military, business owners. . . . Instead of going to the bars and complaining, I could talk to the brothers, and we could work it out."