Charlottesville Blogger Kessler Enters Guilty Plea on Assault Charge
Jason Kessler outside Charlottesville General District Court
James Justin Taylor outside Charlottesville General District Court
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -
A Charlottesville-based blogger is pleading guilty to an assault charge.
Jason Kessler appeared in Charlottesville General District Court Thursday, April 6, to enter a guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge of assault.
The blogger had been facing a charge of misdemeanor assault and battery, stemming from an incident that occurred Sunday, January 22, on the Downtown Mall.
At the time of the incident, Kessler was collecting signatures for a petition to have Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy removed from office.
James Justin Taylor says he approached Kessler to read the petition, saw it was about Bellamy, and called the blogger an [expletive].
"I really took issue with not so much the substance of it, but the way he was going about it, and the sort of aggressive fear, hate, manner that it was being conducted in," Taylor said.
Taylor claims Kessler responded by punching him in the face.
Kessler had filed an assault charge against Taylor, arguing that he acted in self-defense. In his criminal complaint, Kessler says Taylor, “grabbed the petition and my arm violently” and screamed curse words right into his face.
"It might not be legal, but man to man, you can expect to get punched if you yell in another man's face," said Kessler.
A court document filed by the prosecution stated, "The events of this alleged assault are entirely captured on a camera system mounted on a business adjacent to the event." The document went on to say, "the events described by the complaining witness [Kessler] in his criminal complaint did not happen."
The judge granted the prosecution's motion to dismiss the case against Taylor.
The blogger called Taylor a coward as he left court, saying the man went to the police instead of accepting his apology.
Kessler is due back in Charlottesville General District Court later this month. He is expected to learn his sentence on April 27.
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