The controversy surrounding former Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler is now making waves in the state legislature. Albemarle Republican Delegate Rob Bell has introduced new legislation allowing circuit courts - upon petition - to remove local office holders for various misdemeanor sex crimes.
“Under what circumstances will someone have done something so awful, so heinous, that we think they should not be an elected official?” said Bell.
The bill is a direct result of the saga that unfolded in public view last year, after Dumler, then supervisor for Scottsville, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sexual battery charge. The plea sparked outrage among his constituents and distracted supervisor meetings.
"We had a number of speakers who only came to speak not about issues before the board but about the fact that they wanted Mr. Dumler to resign. It was a disruptive time," said Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd.
Dumler went on to serve 30 days behind bars, and faced widespread criticism - and even a death threat - for refusing to resign his position. Dumler ultimately stepped down in June, after a judge threw out a petition to remove him from office. Albemarle Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins said she had no grounds to remove Dumler under current law.
Delegate Bell says his bill fixes that, giving circuit court judges upon petition the ability to remove elected and appointed leaders from office if convicted of certain misdemeanor sex crimes - including sexual battery.
"It is true that he ultimately resigned, but his legal defense was based on the fact that this was not in the code, so it was purely a technical defense,” Bell said. “He can make his technical defense, but we can then change the code to address it and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Boyd, Dumler's former colleague, hopes Bell's bill passes.
"I'm glad to hear that he's put in something like that," Boyd said. "I think it's probably some needed legislation. I think it was pointed out during that length of time that it is something that's needed and I think it will be good for us."
The bill would also allow judges to remove office holders convicted of misdemeanor peeping, indecent exposure, or having a sexual relationship with a minor, even if the minor is over the age of 15. The bill is currently before the House Privileges and Elections Committee.
Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.Full Story
Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story
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