Credit: Courtesy of John Fanning

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A few weeks before Logan Circle advisory neighborhood commissioner John Fanning announced his candidacy for the Ward 2 Council seat, he asked a judge to seal his criminal arrest record.

In a motion filed in D.C. Superior Court May 11, Fanning argues that his “privacy interests of having a successful career along with the benefit to the public it will bring outweigh the interest of having these records publicly available.”

The motion also says Fanning “is in a situation where his arrest record is holding him back in supporting his family and pursuing a professional career.” 

Fanning tells LL that he hasn’t been passed over for a job because of his record, and that clause was meant more generally.

“I didn’t want it to remain on my record,” he says. “I thought it was something I should have an opportunity to expunge.”

A judge has not ruled on the motion.

Fanning says his 2016 arrest stems from a domestic dispute between him and another man, Robert O’Boyle, who he was friendly with for many years until they had a falling out. When O’Boyle wanted more out of the relationship and Fanning didn’t return those feelings, he says, O’Boyle began harassing and stalking him.

“It was an unfortunate situation,” Fanning says. “He kept harassing me, spitting on me, and slapped all my food off the table in front of the Whole Foods. I was actually scared. I wasn’t sure what he was capable of doing.”

Fanning says he finally pushed O’Boyle and the man fell off of a curb and injured his hand. Court records indicate that O’Boyle was treated at the emergency room.

Two of Fanning’s friends who also know O’Boyle say they’ve also been on the receiving end of the man’s aggressive behavior.

“He doesn’t get along with anybody,” says Leonard Carpenter. “I was friends with him for years, and all of a sudden he went off on me, started screamin’ at me for nothin’.”

“He’s had difficulties with everybody at Dupont Circle,” the other friend, who asked not to be identified by name, tells LL. “Knowing Robert, if you mention him in the newspaper, he’ll sue you. He’ll come after your ass. He’s nuts. That’s just the type of person he is.”

Fanning is one of three people challenging Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who is caught in an ethics scandal and is the target of a federal investigation. He is a longtime neighborhood commissioner and has worked in every mayoral administration since Marion Barry

He resigned from his job in the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development to run for office.

Court records show that Fanning pleaded guilty to the minor assault charge, paid a small fine, and completed community service.

For what it’s worth, it appears as if the community service was a positive experience. In a letter in Fanning’s court file, an office manager at Central Union Mission, Sylvia Johnson, writes that he “demonstrated an excellent attitude, worked hard and has been very pleasant to have among our staff.”

Fanning also has a DUI from 1994, which he is not trying to seal. Back then, he says, he had an issue with alcohol, but he has not had a drink in over 20 years.

“These experiences make you understand how others have challenges as well, whether with substance abuse or mental health,” Fanning says. “So they’re real life experiences, and I hope that people would not hold that against me.”