A co-owner of Tavern on the James in Scottsville has been charged with animal cruelty following claims he injured a cat with hot water.
In a news release issued Thursday evening, the Albemarle County Police Department said Charles Spencer Marshall of Fluvanna County was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals in relation to a Jan. 19 incident at the restaurant.
“During the investigation, various sources provided detailed descriptions of the cat involved in the incident to ensure the correct cat was trapped and transported,” the release reads. “At this time, ACPD has no reason to believe the cat that was trapped and taken to the [Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA] is not the cat involved in the incident.”
The Thursday release is a significant departure from a Jan. 22 release about the same incident that indicated the minor injuries found on the cat were determined to have occurred prior to the incident.
“The CASPCA determined that while the cat did have minor injuries, including a cut above the eye socket, there were no external burns,” the Jan. 22 release reads. “Preliminary evaluation determined the cat had received these minor injuries prior to the incident at the Tavern on the James.”
Later, a spokesperson for the county police said that the investigation showed the Marshall willfully inflicted pain on the animal but that no lasting injuries were found.
The claim that Marshall poured hot water on a cat attracted negative attention to the restaurant’s Facebook page, with people leaving angry comments on the restaurant’s posts and leaving one-star reviews.
On Jan. 21, a post attributed to Marshall was published on the restaurant’s page, addressing the concerns and the details of the incident.
In the post, Marshall wrote that he agreed there had been an act of cruelty toward the cat and humans alike. Marshall wrote that, prior to the incident, he offered a patron $50 to relocate the cat to a farm, but then the cat “exhibited dangerous and violent reactions to human contact and located itself directly at the front door.”
Marshall admitted to splashing water on the restaurant’s patio near the cat out of concern for the safety of the restaurant’s customers, though the post does not indicate the temperature of the water.
“Think of your child that might try to pet the cat and have their eyes scratched or receive a disease from contact,” Marshall wrote. “The cruelty to the cat is this, out of human compassion and ignorance we had employees and customers feeding this feral cat on my porch which in turn caused the cat to position itself at our entrance.”
Marshall wrote that, as a result of the allegations, his staff has been threatened, business has suffered and his reputation is at risk.
“In the future if you, and you know who you are, and I know who you are, find me or my actions offensive please talk to me about it,” he wrote. “I crave criticism, it makes me a better person, and promise you, I strive to please everyone if given a chance.”
Online court records do not indicate when or if Marshall is expected to make a court appearance.