Caravati charged: Former mayor arrested for spouse assault
Details of the incident that resulted in a domestic violence charge against former Charlottesville Mayor J. Blake Caravati did not emerge Friday, September 16 when he appeared in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. His arrest, however, has already sent shockwaves through the community.
"It's a sad situation," says current Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, who though never serving in office alongside Caravati, knows him through Democratic political circles.
First elected to City Council in 1998 after launching his campaign from the grounds of the railroad station on West Main Street, Caravati told prospective voters he hoped to locate a transit center on the site. Two years later, he assumed the mantle of mayor.
During his mayorship, Caravati took an active role in infrastructure issues. Although he admited surprise when, during his term at the helm, Martha Jefferson Hospital suddenly announced that it was leaving downtown, Caravati was mayor when Council launched the redesign of the Downtown Mall with a $369,000 contract to a Philadelphia design firm. He would win acclaim from some citizens for eventually reversing his earlier stance in opposition to the controversial road that would link downtown and U.S. 29, the Meadowcreek Parkway.
Caravati won reelection to a second four-year Council term in 2002 even as his ticket-mate made history for becoming the first Democrat in a generation to suffer defeat to a Republican. Yet Caravati's fortunes soured at 8:04pm on Friday, September 9. That's when the 60-year-old contractor and Democratic party insider was arrested, photographed, and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery of a family member.
According to the warrant, Charlottesville Police Officer S. Douglass performed the arrest at the magistrate's office after Caravati allegedly battered his wife, Paula. Caravati resides in the 1100 block of Little High Street in a home that the couple purchased in 1990, according to city records. City Police spokesperson Ronnie Roberts says he's not aware of anyone getting transported for medical treatment.
Reached by email, the former mayor declined comment, and attorney Sheila Haughey did not immediately return the Hook's call.
Caravati is not the first former mayor to face assault charges this year. Frank Buck, who held the City's top elected seat from 1980-1988, admitted that he throttled a client in late 2010 while the two argued in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. After his arrest, Buck pressed charges of abusive language against the client, and in early March the two reached a civil settlement as charges against both men were dropped.
The owner of Charlottesville-based Vector Construction, Caravati serves on the boards of several nonprofits including the Piedmont Council for the Arts and Offender Aid and Restoration, the latter which, according to its website, "works to break the cycle of crime by helping defendants/offenders to be more accountable, lead more productive lives and develop more constructive lifestyles through low-cost alternatives to incarceration."
If convicted of the Class One misdemeanor, Caravati could face up to a year behind bars and a $2,500 fine.Read more on: Blake Caravati