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Dumler bill moves passes House unanimously

Bell seeks to fill legal gap for officials convicted of sex crimes

A bill allowing public officials to be removed from office after being convicted of a sex crime passed unanimously in the Virginia House of Delegates earlier this week. Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, introduced the bill in response to the Christopher Dumler case last year.

Dumler, an Albemarle County supervisor who graduated from the Law School in 2009, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of forcible sodomy in January 2013, but did not resign from the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors until June of that year.

“‪Under current law, an elected official can be removed by the judge upon commission of a felony and certain misdemeanors,” Bell said in an email. This law, however, does not include misdemeanor charges of sexual crimes like the one in Dumler’s case.

“‪I added sex crimes misdemeanors to the list that can warrant removal … prompted by the decision by Mr. Dumler not to resign after he pled guilty to sexual battery and was given a 30-day sentence,” Bell said.

Bell’s bill allows a circuit court judge upon petition to remove a local elected or appointed leader from office for a variety of sexual offenses such as flashing, sexual battery, indecent exposure and peeping, as well as having sexual intercourse with a minor.

The bill also incorporates other charges on which an elected official may be removed by a circuit court judge including neglect of duty, misuse of office, manufacturing or selling marijuana or being charged with a misdemeanor “hate crime.”

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said he did not oppose the bill because it was specific to a particular set of circumstances and allowed due process rights.

“A person still has his or her day in court, because petitioners seeking to remove the elected official will still have to prove that the offense affected the official’s ability to do his or her job,” he said.

The Dumler Bill passed unanimously in the House of Delegates Wednesday and will soon be presented in the Senate.