Shortly after a mass of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, Patrick Stedman, a self-acclaimed dating expert, livestreamed a video out to his more than 25,000 followers, authorities said.
“I was pretty much in the first wave, and we broke down the doors and climbed up the back part of the Capitol building and got all the way into the chambers,” the 32-year-old Haddonfield resident said, according to an FBI affidavit.
Authorities said they used the video and tips from witnesses, including a high school and college classmate of Stedman’s, to arrest Stedman on Thursday and charge him with unlawful entry of a restricted building and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Both charges are misdemeanors.
According to the affidavit, Stedman, who describes himself as a dating and relationship strategist and has more than 25,000 followers on Twitter, encouraged his followers to join him in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, the day Congress was set to certify the election results.
“Highly recommend all patriots come to DC on the 6th,” he wrote. “This will be a turning point in our nation. Will eventually be a nation holiday akin to the 4th of July. You will want to tell your grandchildren you were there.”
“If you are coming (direct message) me,” Stedman said in a follow-up message. “Assembling a TEAM.”
Stedman then proceeded to document his trip down to the nation’s capital on social media the day before the riots, authorities said.
After rioters breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Stedman also documented the scene inside the government building on his Twitter account, according to the affidavit.
“Stedman appeared on video and discussed the details of his presence inside the U.S. Capitol, including sitting in Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s office,” authorities said.
In the video, Stedman admitted to entering the building, authorities said.
“We wanted to go in,” he said on the video. “I’m not going to deny that.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams released Stedman on a $50,000 unsecured appearance bond during his first appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender sought to have the defendant detained pending the outcome of the case, saying Stedman was a flight risk due to his stated desire to move to Poland with his wife. Bender also said Stedman was a danger to the community because of his alleged social media posts encouraging people to join him at the Capitol and his documentation of the attempted insurrection.
Ultimately, Williams granted Stedman, who has no prior criminal record, bail under certain conditions. She revoked his passport and restricted his travel to New York and New Jersey. The judge said she has never detained a defendant on misdemeanor charges in her 11 years on the federal bench.
Stedman’s case will now be transferred to U.S. Attorney’s Office of District of Columbia. His next court appearance is Jan. 27.
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