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Assault charge against Charlottesville developer Ludwig Kuttner dismissed

Charlottesville real estate developer Ludwig Kuttner saw his assault charge, which had been levied by a downtown street musician, dropped in Charlottesville General District Court Thursday.

"It’s been dismissed," Judge Andrew Sneathern told the 77-year-old Kuttner. "You are free to go."

The action took barely a minute, and while Kuttner and his lawyer departed without comment Thursday, The Daily Progress caught up with Kuttner the following day at the Tom Tom Festival, where he is listed as a major sponsor.

"I never touched him," Kuttner asserted.

Besides owning the Terraces, a multistory mixed-use complex on the city’s Downtown Mall, Kuttner owns a controlling interest in Central Place, a multitenant property next door the Paramount Theater which includes the restaurants Petit Pois, Zocalo and Corner Juice.

Those businesses and their patrons have been, at times, a captive audience for Ricky T. Webster, a street musician whose chosen instruments, upturned 5-gallon buckets, don’t garner universal acclaim.

In the pursuit of peace, neighbors say Kuttner had been urging Webster to move his act.

"Ricky bangs loudly and screams," Mike Rodi, who owns the Rapture restaurant a few doors down, told The Daily Progress. "I can appreciate a level of frustration as a business owner."

Last October, Webster alleged that when he was walking toward a bicycle shop at another Kuttner property, the Ix Art Park complex just off the Downtown Mall, Kuttner elbowed him in the chest. Webster did not allege any injury, but he told The Daily Progress that Kuttner’s entreaties to move his drumming would mean less-desirable locations and could curtail his busking income.

The assault allegation never received a courtroom hearing on the facts. Instead, when the matter first came to court in January, the prosecutor urged dismissal after 90 days if Kuttner stayed out of trouble.

"It appears Mr. Kuttner has complied," that prosecutor, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Tanner, said in court Thursday.

One person not present for the hearing was Webster. Shopkeepers have said that he has been uncharacteristically absent in recent weeks. In January, he told The Daily Progress that he has experienced problems including homelessness, and the new telephone number he then provided no longer appears to receive calls.

Local legal expert Scott Goodman was in the courtroom handling another case Thursday, but he said that in these days of ubiquitous firearms, people should refrain from making physical contact with an adversary.

"You put yourself at risk if you do any physical touching," Goodman told the Progress. "There’s a legal process, and you have to follow it."


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