Despite escalating pressure to resign from office—including from all five of his fellow Albemarle County supervisors—embattled Scottsville representative Chris Dumler released a statement today apologizing for his actions and saying he does not intend to step down following his guilty plea on a sexual battery charge stemming from an arrest for forcible sodomy late last year.
“I have learned the hard way that I must be more considerate of the feelings of people who I have close interpersonal relationships with, and I am upset with myself, and very sorry to those whom I have been discourteous towards,” Dumler said in the statement.
He said the accusation of anal rape came from a woman he was sexually involved with in Scottsville. “The legality or illegality of any of this notwithstanding, I acted inappropriately and I would like to make a formal apology to her,” he said.
Dumler, 27, gave press interviews about his decision to stay in office Wednesday, two days after a raucous outburst over his continued presence on the board resulted in one person being removed from a budget hearing. Yesterday, two former allies—supervisors Ann Mallek, a Democrat, and Dennis Rooker, an independent—both said they thought Dumler should leave the Board.
But Dumler said that while he understands his colleagues’ concerns about vocal opposition to his serving becoming a distraction, he’s staying the course, because he owes it to those who elected him in Scottsville.
“Some of those speaking out are understandably confused, disappointed, and hurt that they supported me, trusted me, and voted for me because of the positions and ideals I said I would represent on the Board me in light of my lapse of judgment, and to you, I apologize,” he said.
“On the other hand, many of the contacts that my Board and I have received are affiliated with interests that are ideologically opposed to the side of the current 3-3 split that I am on the [Board of Supervisors]. Currently, the Board is in the middle of important budget negotiations, a comprehensive plan update that happens once every five years, and other critical issues, such as the creation of our stormwater management program to comply with federal mandates. I have been a moderate and an important voice on behalf of the residents of Southern Albemarle when it comes to these issues, and a change in the composition of the Board resulting from an unelected interim Supervisor replacing me would likely be the difference on a number of votes and issues affecting growth area expansion, rural area preservation, investment in education, and the funding of important capital improvement projects that help us maintain our quality of life here in Albemarle County.
“I feel that it is my responsibility—my obligation—to honor the commitment that the majority of voters in my district asked of me and represent them on issues like holding the line on growth area expansions and maintaining our commitment and loyalty to our small public schools. The people of the Scottsville District should not be punished for my lapse in judgment. Therefore, I have no intention to resign my position. To the many, many constituents who have sent me e-mails of support, encouragement, and well-wishes in this difficult time, I thank you for having the faith in me to continue serving you. I know I have many fences to mend, and [much] trust to regain. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to my colleagues on the board. They have been tossed into the middle of an unfortunate and emotionally charged scene, and that is something I never wanted and I deeply regret that they were forced to get involved.”
Dumler indicated in his first public appearance less than a week after taking the plea deal that he could not afford to fight the felony charge, despite wanting to clear his name of a crime he claimed to be innocent of. He alluded to financial barriers to going to trial in a brief interview following the release of the statement.
“While I can’t comment on why prosecution offered the plea deal or go into too many details of the evidence or facts that might impact my decision, I will note that the criminal justice process can be fairly onerous, and at the end of the day, I was not prepared to suffer some of those consequences to follow this through to trial,” he said.
Rooker said that while the Board of Supervisors doesn’t have the power to push Dumler out—only a felony charge would force a resignation—he felt his colleague should reconsider his intentions to stay on the board. He said he’s received more e-mails calling for Dumler’s departure than supporting him.
“I think it would be in Chris’ best interest and in the county’s best interest for him to resign,” Rooker said. “I do think this will make it very hard for him to perform his job, and I also think the impact on his life is greater the longer he stays in office.”