- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A judge has dismissed a felony case against Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, after finding that prosecutors failed to prove a crime had been committed within their court’s jurisdiction.

Judge Cheryl Higgins dropped the single perjury charge brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia against Mr. Kessler, 34, during a hearing held Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court, local news outlets reported.

Mr. Kessler was accused of lying in a sworn statement he filed with a county magistrate in January 2017, roughly seven months before he gained notoriety as the architect of the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally. The event had been billed as a demonstration in support of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, but ultimately descended into chaos amid clashes erupting between participants and counterprotesters.

Mr. Kessler wrote in the sworn statement that he was assaulted while petitioning for signatures seeking the removal of a local politician from public office, but authorities later found surveillance camera footage that depicted Mr. Kessler as the aggressor and subsequently charged him with misdemeanor assault and felony perjury.

Mr. Kessler pleaded guilty to the assault charge in April and was sentenced to serve 50 hours of community service, but Judge Higgins said Tuesday that prosecutors couldn’t prove he had lied in county limits, local media reported.

Double jeopardy protections prevent Mr. Kessler from being tried again, The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.

Mr. Kessler had faced up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted on the single felony county.

“I am disappointed by the court’s ruling in this case, and we are examining potential steps at this time,” said Robert Tracci, the Albemarle County commonwealth’s attorney who prosecuted the case, Daily Progress reported.

Addressing reporters Tuesday, Mr. Kessler implied the prosecution was an attack on his integrity.

“This was an attempt to undermine my credibility so I can’t testify about the city of Charlottesville and their sabotage of that rally that got people hurt,” Mr. Kessler told reporters following Tuesday’s hearing, C-Ville.com reported. “And no one on any side should have gotten hurt.”

Authorities have linked the 2017 Unite the Right rally to three fatalities, including two state troopers who died in a helicopter crash and a counterprotester, Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a motorist drove his automobile into a crowd of counterprotesters.

Mr. Kessler sued Charlottesville and its city manager earlier this month for refusing to him a permit for an event to be held on the rally’s first anniversary, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. A spokesperson for the city declined to comment on pending litigation.

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