Dumler faces censure, calls for resignation

Chris Dumler. Photo: John Robinson Chris Dumler. Photo: John Robinson

Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler faced official censure and angry calls for his resignation at his first Board of Supervisors meeting after pleading guilty to sexual battery last week, and may also have to beat back a challenge to his continued presence on the Board.

An overflow audience—some holding signs calling for the Scottsville representative to step down—listened as Duane Snow read a statement ahead of the censure vote. “Mr. Dumler’s presence on this Board will be a constant reminder to our wives, mothers, daughters and ourselves of the sexual abuse on these women,” Snow read, his voice shaking with emotion.

The Supervisors voted unanimously to censure Dumler, then passed a resolution on party lines to call for his resignation. Dumler abstained from both votes. The Scottsville representative was arrested last November for forcible sodomy after a woman accused him of subjecting her to unwanted anal intercourse the month before. Two other women came forward with accusations of abuse just before Dumler pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery last week. He’ll serve 30 days in jail, but plans to do his time on the weekends so he can continue to serve.

Many residents who took the mic during public session expressed outrage over Dumler’s continued presence on the Board, including some who had held his seat themselves.

“Albemarle County is at the lowest point in its morality right now,” said former Scottsville representative Forrest Marshall. He said Dumler had left himself vulnerable to blackmail, and needed to step down. “The more you stay in the limelight, the more you’re going to get (women) coming out and saying, ‘It’s not that bad for me to go and testify,’ and you’re going to wind up serving some serious jail time. The smart thing for you to do is get off right now.”

About a dozen more residents added their voice to the chorus calling for Dumler’s resignation, but a few spoke up supporting him, including local Democratic Party leader Cynthia Neff, who posted his bail following his arrest last November, and Scottsville resident Dolores Rogers.

“We as a nation have a long history of flawed leaders,” Rogers said, all the way back to the founding fathers. “If you want a lapdog, you need to buy one. If you’re not in Scottsville, you need not bother teling us who should represent us.”

The backlash likely isn’t over yet. Another resident, Earl Smith, said he’s gathering names for a petition to recall Dumler. He’ll need 372 Scottsville signatures to get a judge to consider the request—10 percent of those who voted in the 2011 election that put Dumler on the board—and said he’s already close to that number.

But Dumler said he planned to keep his seat. The Daily Progress reported that after public session, he spoke up in his own defense.

“As far as I know, I am the only one up on this dais who was actually in the room on [that] night,” the Progress story quotes him as saying of the night police say he assaulted a woman. “And so I can say to you conclusively, that with that knowledge, as one of two people who possesses a set of full facts and information about this, I have no moral compunction between me, myself and the Lord about continuing to serve.

“The second thing I would say, and this is very important, that I hope and I pray that none of the individuals who spoke today, or anyone else, ever, for that matter, is ever in a position where he has to put a value on clearing his name, and realizes that he cannot afford to do that.”