Albemarle County Grand Jury Indicts Jason Kessler on Perjury Charge
Jason Kessler, the man behind an attempt to have Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy removed from office, is now facing a felony perjury charge.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The man behind an attempt to have Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy removed from office is now facing a felony perjury charge.
An Albemarle County grand jury has indicted white activist Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally, for allegedly lying on a criminal complaint back in January. The charge was filed in Albemarle County because Kessler filed the complaint with the magistrate at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, which is located in the county.
A capias was issued for Kessler Tuesday, October 3, which means he is to be arrested. He is considered a fugitive at this time.
The perjury charge stems from a January 22 report. Kessler gave a sworn statement to authorities in Albemarle County, claiming James Justin Taylor assaulted him on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.
In a related criminal complaint, Taylor said he approached Kessler who was gathering petition signatures, saw it was about Bellamy, and called Kessler an [expletive].
According to Kessler, Taylor screamed in his face and violently grabbed a petition from him. Kessler filed an assault charge against Taylor, claiming he had punched the man in self defense.
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 goes on to say, "the events described by the complaining witness [Kessler] in his criminal complaint did not happen."
"This is an unusual case where you had a fairly clear statement that seems to be fairly clearly refuted by video evidence that seems kind of hard to argue with. So it's rare that you get a case that's so directly contradicted by that kind of clear evidence," explained legal analyst Lloyd Snook.
A judge later granted the prosecution's motion to dismiss the assault case against Taylor.
Kessler appeared in Charlottesville General District Court on April 6 to enter a guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge of assault. Later. a judge sentenced Kessler to 30 days in jail, which was suspended. He also ordered Kessler to complete 50 hours of community service within six months.
The perjury charge comes from a direct indictment, which means it did not go through the routine process of heading to a general district court judge first.
Kessler has not commented on the indictment.
Kessler's criminal complaint, with expletive language blocked out: