A jury found former Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) superintendent Scott Ziegler guilty of firing a special education teacher in retaliation on Friday.
The split decision of the jury found Mr. Ziegler, who was embroiled in a larger sexual assault scandal that shook Loudoun County and made national headlines, guilty of retaliation by penalizing the teacher for grand jury service.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4 and faces up to a year in jail.
The case against Mr. Ziegler stems from an investigation launched by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares into LCPS when Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office.
The probe was prompted by Mr. Ziegler firing a teacher, Erin Brooks, who testified before a special grand jury related to two sexual assault cases the superintendent was linked with. Ms. Brooks testified not about the two assaults, but that a 10-year-old student allegedly groped her, reported WTOP-TV.
Following her testimony, Mr. Ziegler decided not to renew Ms. Brooks's contract for the 2021–22 school year.
Mr. Miyares welcomed the jury's decision on Friday, declaring that "justice has finally been served in Loudoun County."
"Nearly two years ago, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Loudoun County School Board were thrown into the public spotlight for all the wrong reasons," Mr. Miyares said.
"One of the casualties of their neglect and mismanagement led to the retaliatory firing of a dedicated and caring school teacher," he added. "Today, my office brought a measure of justice for Erin Brooks. The Office of the Attorney General will always be a voice for victims, and we’re grateful for the jury’s verdict."
The 2021 special grand jury was convened to look into how LCPS handled two sexual assaults committed by the same male high school student who identified as "gender fluid."
In a shocking turn of events, the father of one of the teenage rape victims was arrested at a school board meeting for alleged disorderly conduct in May 2021, when he sought justice for his daughter.
Scott Smith's daughter was raped in a girl's bathroom at Stone Bridge High School by a teenage boy who was allowed to transfer to Board Run High School, where he then sexually assaulted another teenage girl. He was sentenced to a facility in early 2022 after being found guilty on counts of forcible sodomy and forcible fellatio.
A second father, Jon Tigges, was arrested at a heated school board meeting on another occasion in June 2021 and later found not guilty of trespassing. Mr. Tigges was arrested after refusing to leave the meeting after Mr. Ziegler declared the public gathering an unlawful assembly. Mr. Ziegler later admitted that he didn’t have the authority to declare the assembly unlawful.
Mr. Ziegler was fired days before the grand jury's report into the school's handling of the assaults was released in December 2022. The grand jury indicted him on three counts, including false publication, according to copies of the indictments obtained by The Epoch Times.
That count stemmed from Mr. Ziegler “knowingly” transmitting to media outlets on or about June 22, 2021, a “false and untrue statement,” which was not identified in the indictment document.
One false statement, however, is known to the public. Despite being informed one month prior of the sexual assault in the school bathroom, Mr. Ziegler said at the June 22 school board meeting: "To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms,” adding later that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist.”
The comment was made in response to parents’ concerns that a policy of allowing transgender students to use opposite-sex bathrooms would lead to an increase in assaults in schools.
Mr. Smith, the father of the teen who was raped in the school bathroom, had alleged that the district tried to cover up the assault as it sought to move forward with its transgender policy, which had received strong pushback from parents who protested at LCPS school board meetings.