Parents of Loudoun County student raped in restroom ‘vindicated’ by indictments

The parents of a Loudoun County student raped in a girls’ restroom applauded the indictments against former Superintendent Scott Ziegler, saying his handling of last year’s sexual assaults in the Virginia high schools left “permanent scars” on the families.

Scott and Jessica Smith said Tuesday they felt “vindicated” after Mr. Ziegler was indicted on three misdemeanor counts following an investigation into the Loudoun County (Virginia) Public Schools’ response to two sexual assaults committed by the same student at two high schools.

“Disgraced LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler may now be scarred with the consequences of future misdemeanor convictions, but it does not compare to the permanent scars that his misdeeds have caused families who entrusted their daughters into his care and protection at our public schools,” said the Smiths in a statement released by their attorneys.

They said the indictments unsealed Monday by a Loudoun County judge represent “an important step in this process, but it is only a starting point by which we seek to right the wrongs committed.”

Mr. Ziegler was scheduled to make an initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in Loudoun County District Court, as is LCPS public information officer Wayde Byard, who was indicted on one count of felony perjury.

Mr. Byard was placed on leave Monday shortly after the indictments were unsealed. The Loudoun County School Board fired Mr. Ziegler last week, a day after the grand jury released its scathing report.

The school board was scheduled to hold a work session on the grand jury’s recommendations at its Tuesday meeting beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

Mr. Ziegler was indicted on one count of false publication based on making a “false or untrue statement” to media outlets on June 22, 2021, the day he said at a public meeting that “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”

The second and third counts against Mr. Ziegler concerned the case of former special education teacher Erin Brooks, who accused the district of failing to protect her from an elementary school student who repeatedly groped her.

Mr. Smith was arrested at the June 22, 2021, meeting by police and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for demanding information about his daughter’s sexual assault, which occurred May 28, 2021, at Stone Bridge High School. His daughter reported the assault to school officials the same day.

A second girl was sexually assaulted on Oct. 6, 2021, by the same teen assailant who pulled her into an empty classroom at Broad Run High School. The student had been transferred to Broad Run after the Stone Bridge attack.

A Loudoun County Juvenile Court judge ordered the attacker in January to register as a sex offender convicted and placed him in a residential treatment center until he is 18.

The assailant was wearing a skirt when he carried out the first attack, prompting school officials to call a meeting the same day on district policy 8040, which concerns the rights of “transgender and gender-expansive students.”

In their statement, the Smiths said the attacker claimed to be “gender fluid.”

Attorney Bill Stanley of the Stanley Law Group in Moneta, Virginia, said the grand jury’s findings “vindicate what the Smith family has been saying all along —that their public schools chose ‘woke’ policy over protecting their students from harm.”

Attorney Autumn Johnson of the same firm told The Washington Times that a Title IX lawsuit is “forthcoming.”

The Smiths said they were “determined as parents to not let the Loudoun County public school system sweep what happened to our daughter and another parents’ daughter ‘under the rug,’ as they repeatedly tried to do.”

“Today we continue this fight,” the Smiths said. “And while we feel vindicated, we are still resolute — and we will not be satisfied until both justice is served and significant changes are made that will protect our children from harm.”

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