Six days after pleading guilty to a sex charge, the youngest supervisor in Albemarle County history faced a censure from his colleagues Wednesday and a petition drive to remove him on a website called Chris Dumler Must Go.
"Mr. Dumler’s presence on this BOS will be a constant reminder to our wives, mothers, daughters and ourselves of the sexual abuse on these women," said Supervisor Duane E. Snow, choking up as he read a statement. "I would ask that the board set aside politics and support a resolution asking Mr. Dumler to resign."
Supervisors voted unanimously to censure Dumler and 3-2 in support of the petition to remove him. Supervisors Dennis S. Rooker and Ann H. Mallek dissented on the petition vote. Dumler, 27, abstained from both votes.
A judge sentenced the Scottsville District supervisor to 30 days in jail after he pleaded guilty Jan. 31 to misdemeanor sexual battery. Police arrested Dumler last fall on a charge of forcible sodomy, a felony, after a woman told investigators he'd assaulted her.
Two more women came forward before Dumler opted to plead to the lesser charge.
"As far as I know, I am the only one up on this dais who was actually in the room on [that] night," Dumler said Wednesday, referring to the Oct. 4 incident that led to his arrest. "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."
Earl Smith, who lives in Dumler's district, told the board his petition to remove the embattled supervisor had garnered nearly enough signatures to call for a circuit court to remove him. A website, chrisdumlermustgo.com, touted the petition Wednesday.
Section 24.2-233 of the state code says that a court may remove an elected official under a petition signed by a number of registered voters equal to 10 percent of the votes cast in the officeholder's district in the last general election for the seat.
In 2011, the year Dumler was elected, 3,719 people voted in Scottsville. Ten percent of that figure calculates to 372 votes.
"I have been asked by a tremendous number of my friends to have a petition, and I went to the state Board of Elections and they helped me," Smith said. "I almost have the 372 signatures. ... I am not going to ask Mr. Dumler to step down. I am going to prove to you that we can make it happen."
State law permits courts to remove officials for neglect, misuse of office or incompetence in the performance of their duties or drug or hate crimes resulting in a "material adverse effect on the conduct of the office." Sex crimes are not cited in Section 24.2-233 .
"I think those that are circulating the petition will have a very long row to hoe to convice a court to remove Mr. Dumler," said Scott Goodman, a Charlottesville attorney. "I think that any judge would leave it to the political process and to the voters.
Had Dumler been convicted of a felony, supervisors could have removed him, pending appeals in his criminal case, under state law.
Former Republican supervisors Forrest R. Marshall and Peter T. Way, who both represented Scottsville, demanded that Dumler resign. Marshall said he had the blessing of Lindsay Dorrier, a Democrat and longtime supervisor whom Dumler succeeded. Dorrier, who could not be reached for comment, endorsed Dumler in 2011.
"I don’t even think you own property in this county, and if you do, I’d like to know where it is, and I’d like to know your purpose for wanting to be on this board," Marshall said. "I think this county is at the lowest point of political morality that I have ever seen, and I think the smart thing for you to do is get off [the board] right now."
Not everyone stood against Dumler.
Delores Rogers, who lives in Dumler's district, said he was not unique among politicians, and should not be unfairly admonished.
"We as a nation have a long history of flawed politicians, of flawed leaders and if we were to have removed all of them, we would not have a Declaration of Independence," she said. "If you do not live in the Scottsville District, you should not take your time telling us who should represent us."
Fellow Democrat and former supervisors candidate Cynthia Neff also spoke in Dumler's defense. She used her home to secure Dumler's $50,000 bond in October.
"[Dumler] had to accept that plea deal because he couldn’t afford to continue to fight," Neff said. "The fact that almost everyone speaking against Mr. Dumler is a Republican makes me suspicious that there is just a little bit of political opportunism going on here."
In addition to serving jail time, Dumler was ordered to make a public apology to his victim, undergo a psychosexual evaluation and receive counseling, therapy and drugs as ordered by Dr. Jeffrey Fracher, a local clinical psychologist and certified sex offender treatment provider.
Embattled Albemarle County Supervisor Christopher J. Dumler was censured and urged to resign this morning by his peers on the board.
The vote on censure was unanimous, while the vote on resignation was 3-2 with Dennis S. Rooker and Ann H. Mallek dissenting. Dumler abstained from both votes.
The youngest supervisor in county history, Dumler, 27, pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor sexual battery and was ordered by a judge to spend 30 days in jail. He was arrested last fall on a forcible sodomy charge after a woman told police he'd assaulted her. Two more women came forward with claims before Dumler opted to plead to a reduced charge.
In addition to the jail time, a judge ordered Dumler to make a public apology to his victim, undergo a psychosexual evaluation and receive follow-up counseling, therapy and drugs as ordered by Dr. Jeffrey Fracher, a local clinical psychologist and certified sex offender treatment provider.Dumler was elected in fall 2011 to represent the county's Scottsville District.