Feds Slap Charlottesville Rally Organizer With Perjury Charge

Jason Kessler lied about January altercation: prosecutors
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2017 6:03 AM CDT
Feds Slap Charlottesville Rally Organizer With Perjury Charge
In this frame from video, Jason Kessler, a blogger based in Charlottesville, Va., speaks to the media on Aug. 13, 2017.   (AP Photo)

The organizer of August's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville has been indicted on a felony perjury charge stemming from a January incident that previously landed him with an assault conviction. In a sworn statement on Jan. 23, Jason Kessler told a magistrate he was assaulted by Charlottesville resident James Taylor on the city's Downtown Mall while collecting signatures for a petition to oust a city councillor, according to court records. Kessler said Taylor "grabbed the petition and my arm, violently shaking to separate the two" and screamed an obscenity while "making contact with his face to mine," reports CBS19. Kessler added he "punched the attacker in self-defense," per the Daily Progress. However, prosecutors later said a video proved Kessler was lying; Taylor said at the time that "I was literally holding a cup of coffee."

Kessler pleaded guilty to assault, received a 30-day suspended sentence, and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, while the complaint against Taylor was dismissed. "I'll admit that what I did was not legal," Kessler said in April, per the Daily Progress. "I was having a bad day. I've never done anything like this before and it will never happen again." Still, an Albemarle County grand jury issued an indictment for Kessler on Monday and an arrest warrant was issued by 3pm Tuesday. It's not clear if Kessler is in custody. Meanwhile in Charlottesville, the city council voted unanimously Monday to rename a section of 4th Street as Heather Heyer Way in honor of the counterprotester who was killed by a driver at the Unite the Right rally, reports WHSV. (More Jason Kessler stories.)

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