Loudoun County Announces ‘Independent Review’ of How Sexual Assault Handled

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
November 6, 2021 Updated: November 6, 2021

An independent review of how Loudoun County, Virginia officials handled a confirmed sexual assault and another alleged incident will be undertaken by a law firm, it was announced Friday.

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) has been accused of mishandling the confirmed assault, which took place on May 28 at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, but officials, including Superintendent Scott Ziegler, have so far refused to resign.

In a brief statement, Ziegler said officials “believe we have followed all mandatory reporting protocols and aided law enforcement to the fullest extent allowed in all investigations regarding these matters” but “we acknowledge that these matters need to be fully reviewed.”

With the support of the county’s school board, LCPS has hired Blankingship & Keith, P.C., to conduct an independent review.

“Please know that this independent review is only one step in moving forward to help heal our school community. We will keep you up-to-date about the steps we take and the progress we make. Together, we believe we can make our schools a safer, more nurturing environment for every student,” Ziegler added.

After a male student assaulted a girl at Stone Bridge in May, the boy was transferred to a different high school, LCPS has confirmed to The Epoch Times. He was later charged with assaulting a different female student at that school, Broad Run High School.

A judge last month found the boy guilty of forcible sodomy and forcible fellatio, both felonies, in the Stone Bridge Case. He’s set to appear back before her on the other matter later this month.

Parents have called for Ziegler to step down over allegations the district mishandled the assault and alleged assault. Ziegler falsely told a school board meeting in June that there were no records of assaults happening in restrooms in the school district. Ziegler in October acknowledged his statement was false but said he misunderstood the question.

LCPS has struggled to communicate about developments in the case. A spokesperson in a recent email to The Epoch Times falsely said Ziegler was asked “if a transgender student assault had taken place in an LCPS bathroom” and said “no.” The actual question, from school board member Beth Barts, was “Do we have assaults in our bathrooms and our locker rooms regularly?”

“To my knowledge, we don’t have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms,” Ziegler said.

The meeting took place on June 22. Ziegler was made aware of the assault that was later confirmed to have happened. In a May 28 email made public last month, he told school board members that “This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom.” None of the members mentioned that incident during the meeting.

Ziegler has said he thought the question was about transgender students because the board was debating a proposal to let students who claim to be another gender use that gender’s bathrooms. The board later approved the policy.

Wayde Byard, a spokesman for LCPS, told The Epoch Times in an email last month that law enforcement was made aware of the May 28 assault within minutes of a report being received and that LCPS was barred from disciplining any student without following a grievance process in Title IX.

Byard also said that members of the school board “were not aware of the specific details of this incident until it was reported in media outlets earlier this week.”

Board members haven’t responded to requests for comment.

Jason Miyares, the Republican Virginia attorney general-elect, announced on Nov. 4 that he will investigate what happened.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.