Kessler indicted for perjury

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally, has been indicted by an Albemarle County grand jury on a felony perjury charge. According to court records, the charge stems from a sworn statement he made in January.

Court records show that he gave a statement to a magistrate claiming that he was assaulted by James Taylor on the Downtown Mall on Jan. 22 while trying to gather signatures for his petition to get Wes Bellamy removed from the Charlottesville City Council.

Taylor said when he refused to sign the petition, Kessler punched him and Kessler was charged with assault.

On Jan. 23, Kessler swore out an assault complaint against Taylor, writing that Taylor "grabbed the petition and my arm, violently shaking to separate the two."

Kessler claimed Taylor screamed an obscenity while "making contact with his face to mine."

However, prosecutors said video of the altercation showed Kessler's version of the story wasn't true.

The assault charge against Taylor was dismissed and Kessler pleaded guilty to an assault charge in April. He was sentenced to 50 hours of community service.

The perjury charge is a class 5 felony and carries a possible sentence of one to ten years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.

The indictment was handed up in Albemarle County because the statement was made at the magistrate's office located in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, which is in the county.

Legal analyst Scott Goodman says perjury charges are rare.

"It's very hard to prove perjury," he said. "Nowadays, the only cases that can hold up in court and prove perjury is where there is video evidence."

And he pointed out that a felony conviction is punished by more than just prison time or a fine. It strips voting and other rights.

"It [would take] away his right to own a firearm and that is something that most people these days don't want to lose, the right to be able to bear arms," said Goodman.

Neither Kessler nor Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci responded to a request for comment.

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