Loudoun County Public Schools Public Information Office Wayde Byard sought specifics on which statements to a special grand Jury led to his felony perjury charge in a Jan. 12 court filing. Special Counsel Theo Stamos in a Jan. 19 response wrote there were “multiple statements.”
The special grand jury investigating the school division’s handling of repeated sexual assaults by the same student unsealed the perjury indictment on Dec. 12, after which Byard, who has been the school district’s Public Information Officer since 2000, said he was placed on unpaid leave. The panel accused him of lying under oath during testimony Aug. 2, 2022; if convicted he faces a sentence of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. A person convicted of perjury also cannot hold “any office of honor, profit or trust under the Constitution of Virginia” or serve as a juror.
In the filing Byard’s attorney Jennifer Leffler of LefflerPhillips asked the court to order prosecutors to precisely identify the allegedly false statement. And she argued he could be wrongly convicted for statements to the jury—presumably false—that were not material to the jury’s investigation.
“Without precisely identifying the allegedly false statement, the prosecution is able to cast a wide net over all of the Defendant’s testimony,” the motion reads. “Such uncertainty renders the Defendant, who testified to a wide range of subjects and topics on August 2, 2022, unable to prepare a defense. Furthermore, the Defendant will be subjected to the danger of the jury improperly convicting him of the offense based on other statements from his testimony that were not the subject of the indictment by the Special Grand Jury.”
“The Commonwealth expects to provide multiple statements, but notes that it only has to prove any one of the false statements to sustain a conviction,” Stamos wrote in response.
Stamos argued that Byard “is well aware of why he was being questioned before the Special Grand Jury on August 2, 2022.”
“Defendant was aware that the Special Grand Jury was impanelled subject to Executive Order No. 4 of Governor Youngkin, to investigate, in part, allegations that the ‘Loudoun County School Board and school administrators withheld key details and knowingly lied to parents,’ regarding sexual assaults that occurred at county high schools in 2021. … This information alone is enough to put the defendant on notice of what was material to his testimony,” the filing reads.
Stamos has said she expects a two-day trial in the spring. Byard has said he plans to plead not guilty.
Byard is also implicated in the special grand jury report that led to the School Board firing former superintendent Scott Ziegler, who faces threes misdemeanor charges. The grand jury found he wrote the email to parents from Stone Bridge High School Principal Tim Flynn the day of the first sexual assault, which addressed the father of the victim, Scott Smith, being escorted out of the building. It made no mention of the assault on his daughter the same day, or that the assailant had gone missing inside the school for hours afterward. The jury wrote the email “deliberately makes no mention of the sexual assault that took place just hours earlier” and was “jeopardizing the safety of all students.”
He was also the front line in fending off inquiries from reporters, seeking to route all questions through himself and routinely denying requests to speak to school division staff members—conversations that previously had been normal occurrences, and which have begun to resume in his absence.