BREAKING: Harassment charge against Chris Charvella dismissed
Late this afternoon, Chris Charvella received word from his attorney that Town of Batavia Justice Mike Cleveland has dismissed the aggravated harassment, 2nd, charge he was arrested on in November.
E. Robert Fussell, Charvella's attorney, could not be reached for further information on the dismissal and the town court is closed at this hour, so we can't retrieve a copy of the decision.
Fussell told his client the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence to support the charge.
"It shows that politicians at any level can't have a person arrested for saying something they don't like, especially, 'thank you,'" Charvella said.
He added, "I knew since I was arrested on November 11th that I had not committed a crime. I placed my trust in the justice system and I'm glad the system worked."
State Troopers arrested Charvella after Legislator Jay Grasso filed a complaint against Charvella claiming harassment.
Charvella was charged under a provision of the statute that prohibits telephone calls for "no legitimate purpose."
The call Charvella made was to Grasso's home phone, and he left a message that said, "thanks for reading my blog."
The message was in response to somebody leaving a political sign on Charvella's front lawn that made reference to an item Charvella posted on her personal blog. The sign contained the words, "Sharome Glasshole," a reference to one of Charvella's blog posts.
Following the phone call, Charvella posted another item on his blog that showed a picture of an Ewok and read, "prepare your anus."
Assistent District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini argued against Fussell's motion for dismissal on June 10.
Part of Fussell's position was that based on previous case law, the conduct of Charvella didn't rise to the level of aggravated harassment, 2nd, as intended by the statute since there wasn't an ongoing pattern of harassment. He characterized Charvella's speech as protected by the First Amendment.
Today, Charvella called the dismissal a victory for free speech.
Charvella has said previously that he spent $7,000 on his own defense in the case.
Neither Cianfrini nor Grasso were immediately available for comment.