Marion Barry


What was the accusation?

On January 18, 1990, Washington D.C. Mayor Barry was arrested with a former girlfriend in an FBI sting operation at the Vista Hotel for use and possession of crack cocaine.  The girlfriend was an FBI informant when she invited Barry to the hotel room and insisted that he smoke freebase cocaine before they had sex, while agents in another room watched on camera, waiting for Barry to accept her offer.

Barry was arrested and charged with three felony counts of perjury, 10 counts of drug possession, and one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to possess cocaine.  He was convicted on one charge of possession, but when the jury came back deadlocked on the remaining charges, the judge declared a mistrial.  Barry served a 6 month prison sentence, after which he resurrected his political career by winning a D.C. city council seat and then emerging victorious in the 1994 D.C. mayoral race.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Corrective Action

Excerpts from Interview with WRC News in Washington D.C.
(March 15, 1990)

”My lawyer has said to me that I have to refrain from talking about anything involving cocaine; that’s going to come out at the trial. I’ve turned over my legal affairs to God, to my lawyer and to the prospective jurors.”

”What I’ve learned is that I have hurt some people. The first person I hurt the most is my wife and my son, and those are the ones who had to see me and deny that this was a problem.”

‘I’ve Made Amends’ Effi had to put up the congenial front and the feeling of support, but it was really painful. I’ve made amends with her; I’ve asked her forgiveness.”

”I’m sure I’ve embarrassed some people and I’ve caused some pain among people in this city. To those people I offer my deepest and sincere apologies, my sincere regrets and my feeling of remorse about it. I’m going to continue to do all I can to continue to earn the public’s trust.”

”I’ve demonstrated that it’s all right to hurt, to pain and to say, ‘I hurt,’ and to go seek some relief from that pain.”


Drew, C., & Daley, S. (1990, January 19). D.C. mayor arrested in drug bust. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from:

LaFraniere, S. (1990, January 19). Barry arrested on cocaine charges in undercover FBI, police operation. Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Melton. R. H. (1990, March 15). Barry makes ‘deepest and sincere’ apology. Washington Post. Retrieved from: