Albemarle County Supervisor Christopher J. Dumler walked out of jail Friday, his $50,000 bond secured by a Democratic Party ally who used her home as collateral.
The shock and mystery endured following Dumler’s Thursday morning arrest on a forcible sodomy charge. Dumler, 27, appeared via video Friday in his bond hearing, looking calm in his jail uniform. Cynthia Neff secured the bond against her home in the 3700 block of Pritchett Lane. The property is valued at $561,100.
“$50,000 is a significant amount of money and under the circumstances, I think that is appropriate. You have to be realistic in these circumstances, and we think this is an appropriate bond,” said special prosecutor Jeffery W. Haislip, who regularly serves as the Fluvanna County commonwealth’s attorney.
Several hours after the hearing, authorities released Dumler — the youngest supervisor in county history — from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
Dumler, who serves as the supervisors’ representative on the jail board, exited through the jail’s main entrance. Other inmates leaving the jail must exit through a door next to the magistrate’s office, which is not visible from the main entrance. A crowd of local media awaited him at that exit, but missed him.
“There was a request for him to come out another door, so we let him come out another door,” said jail Superintendent Col. Ronald Matthews. This was the first time an inmate asked him to leave through a different door, Matthews said.
Dumler was arrested shortly after midnight Thursday at Albemarle police headquarters. The alleged victim reported the Oct. 4 incident to authorities Tuesday, police said. Authorities have declined to provide details, such as the accuser’s gender or where the alleged incident took place.
Dumler could not be reached for comment.
Albemarle General District Judge William G. Barkley named Haislip as special prosecutor Thursday, then postponed the bond hearing until Friday morning to give attorneys more time to review the case.
Haislip said it is “pretty standard” to appoint a special prosecutor in cases involving an elected official.
If convicted, Dumler faces five years to life in prison. A felony conviction also would result in Dumler’s removal from office.
Legal experts said Virginia laws require an elected or appointed official convicted of a felony to forfeit the office once the appeal process is completed. Even if later pardoned, the official cannot return to his position.
State law also allows removal of elected officials by petition for a variety offenses, including “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties” that have “a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.”
Dumler, who operates a solo law practice in Scottsville, also would face disbarment if convicted, said J. Lloyd Snook, president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association.
Local defense attorney Scott Goodman explained that the Virginia State Bar acts independently of the court system, meaning Dumler can be disbarred at any point in the proceedings. Moreover, the bar does not have to wait for Dumler to exhaust his appeals before banning him from practicing law.
Dumler likely will be allowed to continue practicing in the meantime, Snook said. If a complaint is brought against Dumler, bar authorities will investigate, Snook said. Complaints to the bar are rare in cases where the action is not related to the practice of law, he said.
Dumler is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Dec. 13.
Daily Progress staff writers Bryan McKenzie and Aaron Richardson contributed to this story.