A special grand jury in Loudoun County, Virginia, said the superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) lied about sexual assaults perpetrated on school grounds in 2021 and that school officials displayed a “stunning lack of openness” about the incidents, according to the special grand jury’s report released on Monday.
The 91-page report (pdf) is the result of an order issued by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin last year requesting that Attorney General Jason Miyares conduct a full investigation into the school district following the two sexual assaults.
The first assault occurred on May 28, 2021, at Stone Bridge High School (SBHS) against a 15-year-old girl, according to the officials and the victim’s family, who said it happened in a girls’ bathroom by a boy who was wearing a skirt and who claimed to be “gender fluid.”
The second assault took place five months later on Oct. 6, 2021, at Broad Run High School (BRHS) by the same student, who had been transferred there. In that incident, the same boy forced a female student into an empty classroom, held her against his will, and touched her inappropriately.
In late October 2021, the 15-year-old boy was found guilty on counts of forcible sodomy and forcible fellatio for the first sexual assault. The following month he pleaded no contest to the charges for the second sexual assault. He was sentenced to probation at a residential treatment facility until his 18th birthday in June 2024.
The boy was originally ordered to register as a sex offender, but the judge reversed that decision.
In Monday’s report, the special grand jury, which was made up of randomly selected Loudoun County residents, stated that Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler made a false statement about the first sexual assault during a school board meeting in June 2021.
Superintendent Ziegler Told ‘Bald-Faced Lie’
According to the report, a school board member asked the superintendent, “Do we have assaults in our bathrooms or in our locker rooms, regularly? I would hope not but I’d like clarification.”
The report states that the superintendent responded, saying he was unaware of “any record of assaults” occurring in the school bathrooms.
“The SBHS principal, who attended the Teams meeting with the superintendent the afternoon the SBHS sexual assault took place, testified the superintendent’s statement ‘is not true.’ Another witness testified the superintendent’s statement was a ‘bald-faced lie.’ We agree,” the report states.
The report also noted that SBHS Principal Tim Flynn failed to mention the first sexual assault in an email to the Stone Bridge High School community on the day it happened. The email was signed off by Ziegler, the report said.
Ziegler, the report notes, later stated that he had misunderstood the question from the board member and that he had interpreted it to be about whether the school had records of assaults occurring in restrooms involving transgender and gender-fluid students.
“There were several decision points for senior LCPS administrators, up to and including the superintendent, to be transparent and step in and alter the sequence of events leading up to the October 6, 2021, BRHS sexual assault,” the report notes. “They failed at every juncture.”
While the special grand jury stated that LCPS ultimately bears the brunt of the blame for the Oct. 6 incident and the transfer of the student from Stone Bridge to Broad Run, the report concluded that there was “not a coordinated cover-up between LCPS administrators and members.”
Instead, the special grand jury stressed that there was a “breakdown of communication between and amongst multiple parties,” including the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Court Services Unit, and the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office which led to the events.
‘No Evidence of Criminal Conduct’
“Indeed, except for the May 28, 2021 email from the superintendent, the [Loudoun County School Board], both as a body and its individual members, were deliberately deprived of information regarding these incidents until after the October 6, 2021, sexual assault—and even then they learned not from the superintendent’s office but instead from public reporting that the assailant was the same one from the May 28 incident,” the report stated.
Following Monday’s report, the Loudoun County School Board shared a statement saying it was pleased that the eight-month investigation had found “no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of anyone within LCPS, and not a single indictment was filed as a result of this lengthy process.”
The school board added that allegations that the school had covered up the sexual assaults on school grounds for political gain were unfounded.
“To the best of our knowledge, this allegation was not true, and, after conducting an eight-month investigative process, during which it had the ability to interview any LCPS employee, Board member, and any other individuals beyond the LCPS community it deemed relevant, and during which it had access to virtually any LCPS record that was not otherwise legally privileged, the Special Grand Jury neither cited any evidence to support this serious allegation nor made any such conclusion in its…
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