The Republican candidate in Virginia’s gubernatorial election has called for an immediate investigation into a claimed coverup of alleged sexual assaults that took place earlier this year at schools in one of the state’s most populous counties.
“A young girl was sexually assaulted in her school, and the administrators, those who were trusted with not only her education but her safety, tried to cover it up,” Glenn Youngkin told supporters in Burke on Oct. 19. “And they quietly moved the offender, an offender being prosecuted for sexual assault, to another school, where he was able to do it again. Two young girls have been sexually assaulted because our system, our system failed to protect them.”
The 15-year-old daughter of Scott Smith was allegedly raped in May by a male wearing a skirt in a girl’s bathroom at Stone Bridge High School in Loudoun County. That incident is under investigation, county officials have told The Epoch Times. The same male sexually assaulted another girl at a different high school in the county on Oct. 6, according to sheriff’s officials and the county prosecutor.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) officials have declined to answer questions about the male, although Superintendent Scott Ziegler indicated last week that he was placed at the other school as part of the “alternative placement” process for students accused of serious disciplinary infractions.
Youngkin called for an immediate full investigation into the Loudoun County School Board, which Smith has accused of covering up his daughter’s rape.
“They had a duty of care and they failed. They endangered our students and violated the Virginia Constitution,” he said.
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat running against Youngkin, and state Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat running for reelection, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Virginia Del. Jason Miyares, the Republican candidate for attorney general, backed Youngkin’s call for an investigation. Miyares said that if Republicans win the election, he will open a probe into the school board.
“Mark Herring and Terry McAuliffe have made it clear that they won’t stand up for parents. But Glenn Youngkin and I will,” Miyares said in a statement.
Smith was arrested at a school board meeting in June for being disorderly while protesting the district’s proposed transgender policies, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said. At the meeting, Ziegler said no assaults had taken place in bathrooms, a false statement he later said stemmed from his misunderstanding of a question.
Ziegler also indicated last week that the district had violated Virginia law by not reporting alleged sexual assaults to the state.
A Virginia Department of Education spokesman confirmed to The Epoch Times in an email that the agency is “actively investigating discrepancies in the LCPS reports.”
An LCPS spokesman said several days prior that Stone Bridge’s principal reported the alleged sexual assault to law enforcement within minutes of receiving the initial report on May 28. But LCPS is constrained from investigating what happened until law enforcement finishes its probe, the spokesman alleged. He also said the district cannot discipline a student without following the Title IX grieve process, which includes an investigation of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints.
“School Board members are typically not given details of disciplinary matters. The board may be obligated to consider long-term suspensions or expulsions and must ensure that students have not been deprived of due process. Consequently, members of the Loudoun County School Board were not aware of the specific details of this incident until it was reported in media outlets earlier this week,” the spokesman added.
Ziegler in prepared remarks to the press on Oct. 15—he did not take any questions—said he’s spoken with state and federal officials to push for changes to federal law regarding Title IX. He also said the school board would be asked to make changes to policies to “place greater emphasis on victim rights.”
Ziegler apologized to the families and students involved in the assaults.
LCPS is facing a lawsuit from Smith’s family over its handling of the incident involving his daughter.