'Unite the Right' organizer Jason Kessler released on perjury charge

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (Oct. 4, 2017):

A day after the main organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville was arrested for felony perjury, he has been released on bond.

Jason Kessler made a brief appearance in Albemarle County Circuit Court Wednesday. A court clerk said he was released on bond.

Kessler did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Court records did not list an attorney for him.

The perjury charge stems from a sworn statement Kessler made in January, alleging he was punched while gathering signatures for a petition to remove a city councilman. Kessler later pleaded guilty to assaulting the man he accused.

"He and his buddy came over, they scribbled on my petition and vandalized it," said Kessler at the time. "James didn't want to have a conversation with me, he yelled you're a....and he called me a name. I felt threatened and I hit him to get him away from me."

Kessler planned the Aug. 12 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. A woman was killed when a car plowed into a group of people at the rally, where white nationalists and counterprotesters clashed.

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Jason Kessler, the organizer of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, 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.

Kessler gave a statement to a magistrate on Jan. 23, 2017, claiming that he was assaulted by James Taylor on the Downtown Mall while trying to gather signatures for his petition to get Wes Bellamy removed from the Charlottesville City Council.

However, Kessler later pleaded guilty to assaulting Taylor and charges were dismissed against Taylor.

Kessler admitted to punching Taylor in the face after a confrontation over his petition.

"He and his buddy came over, they scribbled on my petition and vandalized it," said Kessler. "James didn't want to have a conversation with me, he yelled you're a....and he called me a name. I felt threatened and I hit him to get him away from me."

On the other hand, Taylor says he was simply killing time on the mall with his dog and a cup of coffee.

"He handed me his clipboard so I could read it and I handed it back to him," said Taylor. "I said what I said to him and he didn't like it."

Taylor and Kessler both say curse words were exchanged before Kessler punched Taylor in the face, busting his lip.

Kessler went on to say, "Man to man, yell in a man's face and expect to get punched in the face."

When asked in April about the dropped charges and his accusations of assault against Taylor, Kessler walked away from reporters.

"I'll admit that what I did was not legal," Kessler said earlier that day, though. "I was having a bad day. I've never done anything like this before and it will never happen again."