Scott Ziegler

Superintendent Scott Ziegler addresses media members Oct. 15, 2021, following news that a student already accused of rape in May assaulted a second student in October.

Following a eight-month investigation, the report of a special grand jury empaneled to investigate Loudoun County Public Schools’ handling of two sexual assaults committed by the same student has been unsealed.

The panel was empaneled in April at the request of Attorney General Jason Miyares as his office investigates the school division’s handling of a sexual assault scandal in which a student charged with sexually assaulting a girl at Stone Bridge High School in May 2021 was transferred to Broad Run High School, where he assaulted another girl in October 2021. The investigation was requested by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in an executive order signed on his first day in office.

The jury stated it heard testimony from more than 40 witnesses and reviewed over 100 pieces of evidence that lead to the conclusion. 

In the 24-page report, the jury concluded division administrators were “looking out for their own interests, instead of the best interests of LCPS” in their response to public outrage over the incidents. 

The jury noted there were several instances where senior division administrators, including the superintendent, could have been transparent and could have avoided the sexual assault at Broad Run High School.

The jury stated in the documents they believed the Oct. 6 abduction and sexual assault “could have and should have been prevented,” saying administrators were ultimately to blame for the second assault. 

“While we strongly believe LCPS bears the brunt of the blame for the October 6 incident and the transfer of the student from [Stone Bridge High School] to [Broad Run High School], 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—led to the tragic events that occurred,” according to the report.

The jury further stated it found no coordinated cover-up between administrators and the Loudoun County School Board and found that School Board members were “kept in the dark” about the incidents. With the exception of a May 28, 2021, email from the superintendent, the School Board had no information about the sexual assaults until after the Oct. 6 assault, and when they did learn the two cases were related, it wasn’t from the superintendent himself, but from other public reporting, according to the report.

The jurors concluded that the second assault at Broad Run High School “should have never occurred.”

“Had any one of a number of individuals across a variety of entities spoken up or realized a serious problem was brewing regarding earlier incidents at BRHS then the sexual assault most likely would not have occurred. But nobody did,” they wrote.

Soon after the assailant was transferred to Broad Run, reports of sexual harassment behavior were known by the probation officer, the school resource officer, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and top school division administrators, the report states. 

“Not a single person with knowledge of the student’s history or of this current action stepped in to do anything. Instead, discipline was left to the BRHS principal, who did nothing more than issue him a verbal reprimand.”

The jury stated it believed the superintendent lied in response to a question at the June 22, 2021, School Board meeting when he said “to my knowledge we don’t have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”

The male student was sent to the Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Center on July 8, 2021, but released per state law on July 26. As part of his release, according to the document, he could not return to Stone Bridge and was transferred to Broad Run High School. 

The student had numerous complaints made against him while at Broad Run and several female students asked to be moved away from him in class. While the incidents were reported to the principal, the document said the teacher was not told about what happened at Stone Bridge.

The jury stated weeks went by with more incidents with the student and the superintendent, assistant superintendent and chief of staff all knew about the incidents—and that it was the same person who sexually assaulted the student at Stone Bridge High School. 

On Oct. 6, the individual “snatched an unassuming female out of the hallway, abducted her into an empty classroom, nearly asphyxiated her, and sexually assaulted her,” according to the document.

The assailant has been in custody ever since.

The jury stated in the document its purpose in sharing its findings was to ensure “transparency surrounding the investigation,” and provide recommendations to prevent it from happening again.

“While we do not expect this report to be well-received by all sides, the contents herein are an accurate assessment of testimony received and our collective thoughts regarding that testimony and all other evidence received by this body,” it stated.

The report disputes the claim by Superintendent Scott Ziegler in the aftermath of the assaults that the school division’s actions—or inactions—were driven by Title IX.

“Title IX is a complicated federal law that few, if any, fully understand. We believe LCPS was severely delinquent with its Title IX responsibilities in 2021 and, due to Title IX’s complexity and the public’s lack of familiarity with its nuances, has used Title IX as a shield to fend off criticism for its lack of action regarding the SBHS sexual assault,” according to the report.

“Even a cursory review of document and testimony, however, review those statements are far from the truth. Behind the scenes, the LCPS Title IX procedures were essentially non-existent, the staff was inexperienced, senior officials squabbled, and the superintendent was aware of it all.”

In addition to criticizing Ziegler’s conduct, the grand jury also highlighted actions by division counsel Robert Falconi and Sheriff Michael Chapman as hampering the investigations.

“Though LCPS declared in an April 13 statement its ‘inten[t] to cooperate with the lawful requests of the special grand jury,’ we experienced a much different posture behind closed doors,” the report reads.

The jury described Falconi’s conduct as obstructionist, working to control or prevent testimony from division employees.

“Unlike federal law, no Virginia statute explicitly addresses witness tampering, and the Virginia obstruction of justice statute does not cover this fact pattern. For those reasons, we are unable to consider an indictment against the LCPS division counsel,” according to the report.

The sheriff was criticized for not sharing important information with school administrators, to the detriment of public safety.

“The citizens of Loudoun County deserve better than two high-profile individuals publicly squabbling and refusing to put aside any petty differences. Ultimately, the sheriff and superintendent need to put aside any disagreements they may have and recognize the import[ant] relationship between their offices. The safety of the students and the community require it,” the jury stated.

The grand jury made eight recommendations based on its investigation:

  • Increase transparency and foster better communication and recommended the school division include as much information as reasonably possible when informing the public about significant events happening on school property, a bus or a school sponsored event.
  • Re-examine its transfer process and create a formalized protocol emphasizing better communication.
  • Greater involvement from the division’s director of safety and security in situations that threaten the safety and security of students, faculty and staff. 
  • The School Board should tighten polices about the apps available to students on their school-issued devices.
  • The School Board should limit the degree to which legitimate matters and information of public concern are shielded from the public under the cloak of attorney-client privilege.
  • Improved communication, cooperation and coordination across all agencies when addressing criminal conduct by students, faculty and staff. 
  • Strengthen support and advocacy for faculty and staff who are faced with challenging scenarios that could be dangerous.
  • The superintendent’s recommendation for the non-renewal of a teacher’s contract should be the subject of a separate agenda item and not placed on the School Board’s consent agenda. 

 “This special grand jury was the epitome of professionalism,” Miyares wrote in a statement. “In the face of intense public speculation, the members were incredibly engaged, worked tirelessly, and spend countless days away from their families and jobs to conduct a thorough investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools. I encourage everyone to read their report and look for the positive change in LCPS resulting from their work.” 

He also released a video about the case.

Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James E. Plowman ordered the report be unsealed on Dec. 2. 

Read the report here.

(18) comments

RationalThinker

Hopefully, the school board will do the right thing. But what about Chapman? This report also highlights the many failings of the LoCo Sheriff in this case. Chapman needs to resign. It’s impossible to ignore the politics when Youngkin and Miyares continue to ignore Chapman’s role in this tragedy.

2twotango

"The sheriff was criticized for not sharing important information with school administrators, to the detriment of public safety." The same old behavior from Chapman, a former back office bureaucrat, who views any helpful information as a source of power and a bartering tool, to be used for his gain. The report goes on to admonish him for his "petty" infighting. Petty is the operative word to describe this Sheriff. He constantly fueded with the former republican commonwealth attorney (CWA) James Plowman (now a judge who coincidentaly was the one who ordered the unsealing of the report) and briefly allied with the current democratic commonwealth attorney to unseat Plowman (before he decided to pursue a judgeship). Chapman now has a standing order for his deputies and detectives not contact or cooperate with the sitting CWA unless they obtain permission from him. This helped cause the debacle regarding the release of a murder suspect recently. A simple call to the CWA (the court deputies called the District Court instead) would have cleared up that misunderstanding. It's time for a change - a new broom sweeps clean. A new sheriff, CWA, and school administrator would be a nice start.

RJones

These deceitful LCSB and Ziegler should be fired since they don't have enough honor or shame to resign.

timsmith

What a waste of time, energy & resources. This was all political. And what about better monitoring of LCPS restrooms! That's a big problem that must be addressed. Memo to Youngkin & Miyares: Now that you've scored some Brownie Points with your followers, please leave Loudoun County alone!

ace10

Did you read the report? Or even the LN story? This is SERIOUS stuff. Good grief, maybe put away the politics for just a moment and consider the implications of what happened and the actions of the parties DIRECTLY INVOLVED.

kronos

Of course timsmith did not read the report. It shatters that facade of "Democrats good, Republicans bad," and might mean the Democrats will rightfully be ousted from office this coming November.

Jonathan

It's all political? A male student, wearing a skirt, entered a female bathroom and anally raped a female student. And the school system administrators knew almost immediately and tried to cover it up. The father of the victim was trespassed from the school and the principal tried to make the father appear to be the issue when notifying parents that "something had happened" at the school that day. It's every bit as bad as we imagined all along. The school should not have policies that enable rape. The school should not cover up the actions of rapists. Many of these people involved need to be fired and should never work in education again.

timsmith

The rapist's clothing has nothing to do with anything. You, Youngkin, Miyares, etc. desperately try to link the crimes to Policy 8040. But that policy wasn't even in effect when the rape took place. And the subsequent sexual assault was in a classroom NOT a restroom. When will you extremists stop trying to politicize dreadful crimes? A criminal will break the law regardless of what policies might be in place. Please use common sense. Happy Holidays Loudoun!

MLeffler

Don't forget that a Special Education teacher assistant walked in on them and saw TWO sets of feet in the handicap stall. And did NOTHING. Then he just raped her a different way.

I thought staff was supposed to PROTECT students. Not enable two students to be alone in a stall together and not think it is worth interrupting. WTF? Criminal negligence is what I would charge that school with if I were her parents.

Jonathan

@timsmith - It's classic when "Progressives" swerve into truth and fact. You state, "A criminal will break the law regardless of what policies might be in place. Please use common sense."

You seem to recognize this empirical truth when it comes to rape in a school and then deny it when it comes to other aspects of life like firearms. If you didn't have double standards, you'd have no standards at all. Have a happy holiday defending the indefensible behavior we have seen in the public schools.

E.J.Lockwood

Surely you are not THAT indoctrinated! Do you have an opinion on the adult who entered THAT restroom on THAT day, and observed two pairs of feet in that stall and DID NOTHING? That person needs to be terminated right after Ziegler is shown the door.

MLeffler

Are you saying that if a child is sexually assaulted and the parents are outraged (as well as the public) that it is political?

I couldn't disagree more. I am furious with the extreme left wing that allowed this child to witness all the rage against her parents for standing up for her. You should be supporting the victim, not the perpetrator.

Shame on you and everyone else that don't want to protect our children. That is the bottom line - you care about the victims or you don't. I care about the victims and shame on everyone that tries to spin this into something political.

Shame on Loudoun for allowing this to happen and for encouraging the obstruction of justice by spinning a distorted narrative that was NOT factual.

ENOUGH OF THE VICTIM SHAMING!!!! Good for her and her parents for being upstanders to other sexual assault victims. They are the heroes - not the keyboard warriors.

kronos

They will leave Loudoun County alone when the Democrats are no longer making a mess of things here.

Voice of Reason

Stop making this a political issue - kids were hurt and the LCPS did not want this to get out - they wouldn't even release the finding of there own privately done report - they are things and this was the only way the public would know what was going on

Chris Manthos

Zig lies to the parents, the school board, and the public. Why is he still employed? Why has the SB done nothing but cover up for this sexual predator enabler?

I smell a big fat civil suit coming.

java1981

Basically, nothing will change. LCSB will still stand behind the Sup, and both will state that they are already implementing these recommendations. I do hope that people see an important piece, that individuals were looking out for their own interest. IOW's, they cared more about their social agenda than staff and kids. The school admin should be cleaned house, where we can start fresh.

kronos

November, 2023... when we can finally oust the majority of the leftist LCSB and BOS and elect people with some common sense.

John M

I wish I shared your optimism. Too many Tim Smiths in LoCo and not enough people with common sense. Tim thinks this issue is "political" and is not important. The funny part is, Tim tows the progressive party line night and day on just about every message board that carries LoCo news. All you have to do is look at social media and you see way too many people who think like him. I fear LoCo is lost forever.

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