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Former mayor appeals sexual battery conviction

Former Culpeper Mayor Chip Coleman, still maintaining his innocence, has appealed his sexual battery conviction.

Coleman’s attorney, Rex Edwards, filed that appeal Friday and the case will now move from district court to circuit court. Coleman’s first appearance is set for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 20, at which time he is expected to ask for a jury trial.

Coleman was convicted earlier this month of hugging a woman and rubbing his chest against hers following a Christmas get-together at Culpeper Human Services last Dec. 20. Coleman, who headed DHS for more than 20 years, hired the woman in the mid-1990s.

According to court testimony by a number of witnesses, the two had maintained a flirty relationship during the years they worked together. But the woman testified that Coleman, who had retired from the agency three years prior to the party, continued to press against her after she told him to stop.

Judge Edward Carpenter found Coleman guilty, saying, “I find that there was some force … and there was some sexual intent … for his gratification.”

He sentenced the former mayor, who was defeated in the May election, to 10 days in jail, all suspended, and fined him $2,500.

Carpenter was also scheduled to be on the bench Sept. 5 for Coleman’s first appearance in a $25,000 deformation suit filed by former town manager Kim Alexander. But the Orange County judge, who was assigned the case after Culpeper Judge Dale Durrer recused himself, has withdrawn, according to Culpeper District Court officials.

A replacement for Carpenter has not yet been named.

Donnie Johnston:


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