In October, Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler was arrested and charged with sexual assault and forcible sodomy. (He was accused of performing anal intercourse with a partner who was non-consensual to the act.) The above linked article describes Dumler as a “stranger to a life of crime,” noting that he’s a lawyer, an Eagle Scout and a volunteer firefighter. Another article adds Army Reservist to his list of credentials as a “good guy.” As if to suggest lawyers, Boy Scouts, firefighters, and Army Reservists – defacto members of the “good guys team” – aren’t capable of committing crimes, or particularly rapey, sexual assualt crimes.
Shortly after his release from jail on bail Dumler issued a statement saying that he intended to fight the charges and mount a vigorous defense, and that he would not resign from his position as county supervisor. Virginia code stipulates that a felony conviction would force him out of his position. He can also be removed if voters in his district petition the court.
Since his arrest in October two other complainants have come forward, accusing Dumler of similar acts of non-consensual anal sex.
Yesterday (January 31, 2013), instead of mounting the vigorous defense he promised in October, he pled guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery, and was sentenced to one year in jail, with all but 60 days suspended, and because the crime is a misdemeanor he only actually needs to serve half of those 60 days. He has requested that he be allowed to serve the 30 days in jail on the weekends. The county has agreed to not pursue charges in the other two complaints.
It seems to me that he accepted this plea, and he says basically the same thing, so that he might continue in his position as county supervisor. And I get kind of angry about the way “justice” works.
Three people have come forward to suggest that an elected official in the county, who seems to be a rising star in the local Democratic Party, has a problem understanding “No.” And I have a pile of problems with this.
1.) Dumler pled so that he wouldn’t risk losing his position on the Board of Supervisors – I think that’s shady. It forces me to imagine that there was probably enough evidence to convict him of felony sodomy charges, but someone sat down with him and said, “Hey, we all want you to be able to go back to your job, so if you plead, we can make that happen.”
2.) He’s an elected official in the Democratic Party – a party that wants me to think they have the interests of survivors of sexual assault, and violence in the forefront of the party. They are the proponents of VAWA which would offer services to more survivors of violence, and of health care reform that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to survivors of domestic violence.
3.) It’s more of the same bullshit we see all the time. People in positions of privilege getting away with sexual assault. How am I supposed to teach my kid that it is NOT OKAY EVER to push someone into a sexual act, or to force someone into a sexual act, when the whole damn world is willing to look the other way so damn often? How can I feel like my safety is anyone’s priority?
4.) Sexual assault is a crime of dominance. It’s a crime of punishment. It’s a crime of arrogance. It is the assumption that whomever you are hurting exists for the fulfillment of your need. That their body is yours to do with as you please.
I don’t want people like that in positions of power.