Dumler's fingerprints and mugshot.
Scottsville race: Christopher Dumler and Jim Norwood.
file photos by Jen Fariello
Self-employed lawyer and Albemarle County supervisor Christopher J. Dumler has been jailed and charged with sexual assault and felony forcible sodomy over an allegation that he performed anal intercourse "against the victim's will by force, threat, or intimidation," according to his October 18 arrest warrant.
The incident occurred October 4, according to the warrant, and courtroom testimony indicates that the victim is female.
At a bail hearing in Albemarle General District Court Thursday morning, the 27-year-old Dumler was seen on live-video. Sitting in a chair dressed in the gray-and-white prison uniform of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail where he was incarcerated shortly after midnight, Dumler appeared calm and respectful to Judge William G. Barkley.
Because he is an elected official in Albemarle, Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman has been tapped to prosecute, and Chapman seemed caught off guard.
"I have not yet even read the arrest report," said Chapman. "I have received an oral report from the officer."
Judge Barkley responded that the felony allegation carries a presumption against bail and directed Dumler– who didn't point out that he's a member in good standing of the Virginia bar– to hire a lawyer and seek another hearing as early as Thursday afternoon.
"Yes, your honor," Dumler replied.
Chapman passed a phalanx of media outside the courthouse downtown without responding to questions.
A Democrat, Dumler won the Scottsville-area seat long held by fellow Democrat Lindsay Dorrier by defeating Republican Jim Norwood in 2011. According to a source familiar with County government, Dumler cannot be removed from his position on the six-person governing body without his own resignation or without a criminal conviction.
Dumler appears to be a stranger to a life of crime. A volunteer firefighter and an Eagle Scout, he serves as a captain in the reserve division of the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General Corps. Shortly before his election last November, he hiked the path of the proposed Western Bypass in an effort to highlight his opposition to the controversial road.
Hook legal analyst David Heilberg says that while the burden of securing bail in such a serious case as Dumler's falls on the defendant, it may not be impossible for Dumler to secure it.
"A pure he said/she said with someone who had otherwise led a clean life up until that point should be able to overcome the presumption," said Heilberg, though he cautioned that he and most others remain completely unaware of the state's evidence. "Because there's a presumption, they don't have to tell you much about the underlying facts."
Heilberg also asserts that Chapman will probably step aside.
"The local prosecutors will have conflicts of interest," says Heilberg. "They'll probably want to bring in a prosecutor from outside the area."
According to his blog, Dumler participated in a charity event last month at a new brewery in Scottsville in which he directed that the proceeds from his pours go to the charity of his choice. He chose SARA, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency.
–developing story: updated at 9:50am, Thursday, October 18 and again at 4:36pm after adding Heilberg's comments and changing mentions of "bond" to "bail"