Grand Jury Indicts Fired Loudon School Superintendent and District Spokesperson in Sex Assault Investigation
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The former superintendent of a northern Virginia school district has been indicted on three misdemeanor charges by a special grand jury that investigated the response to two sexual assaults committed by the same student last year.
The grand jury also issued a felony perjury indictment against the Loudoun County Public School's (LCPS) primary spokesman.
A Loudon County judge unsealed the four indictments Monday. The three misdemeanors against fired Superintendent Scott Ziegler include one count of false publication, one count of prohibited conduct related to alleged retaliation against a teacher, and one count of penalizing an employee for a court appearance.
In addition, LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard was also indicted for one count of felony perjury.
The indictments include few details, but the false publication count appears to relate to a statement Ziegler made in June 2021 denying that there had been any assaults occurring in school bathrooms. In fact, the first sexual assault occurred a month earlier in a bathroom stall at Stone Bridge High School, and emails show Ziegler had been made aware of it.
Ziegler later said he misunderstood the question.
The other two charges are not related to the assaults but to a lawsuit filed by a special education teacher, Erin Brooks, who alleged that the school system retaliated against her after she reported that a special needs student at an elementary school had sexually assaulted her. That lawsuit continues.
As CBN News reported, the Loudon County Public School Board fired Ziegler on Dec. 7, after the grand jury released a report criticizing the district for how it handled the matter. Byard has been placed on leave, according to an LCPS press release.
In a new 91-page report, the grand jury found that the school district was "looking out for their own interests" instead of the best interests of the students.
The grand jury's report faulted the school system in general, and Ziegler in particular, for a lack of transparency about the assaults. It also concluded that the second assault could have been prevented if officials had heeded warning signs in the student's behavior.
WTOP-TV Reporter Neal Augenstein tweeted the news of the indictments.
"Breaking: Former Loudoun County Superintendent Scott Ziegler and @LCPSOfficial school spks Wayde Byard have been indicted by special grand jury empanelled by Atty Genl @JasonMiyaresVA," he wrote.
Breaking: Former Loudoun County Superintendent Scott Ziegler and @LCPSOfficial school spks Wayde Byard have been indicted by special grand jury empanelled by Atty Genl @JasonMiyaresVA. pic.twitter.com/Kgwthhx54E— Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) December 12, 2022
The grand jury was commissioned by Virginia's Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) after he and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) took office at the start of the year. Both criticized the school system during their election campaigns.
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The Northern Virginia school district made national headlines after a father accused the school board of covering up his daughter's sexual assault.
Scott Smith testified before the board that a biological boy wearing a skirt raped his daughter in the girl's bathroom at Stonebridge High School in May 2021. When Smith raised the issue at a June school board meeting that year, he was arrested and subsequently charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. At the assembly, the father shared concerns over allowing students to use restrooms that correspond not with their biological sex but with their chosen gender identity.
"If someone would have sat and listened for 30 seconds to what Scott had to say, they would have been mortified and heartbroken," Smith's attorney, Elizabeth Lancaster told The Daily Wire at the time.
After that incident, the boy was able to transfer to another school in the district where he then assaulted another girl in October 2021. He was convicted in juvenile court of both assaults.
The report says teachers at both schools warned administrators of the student's disturbing conduct weeks before each assault occurred. Even the student's grandmother spoke up and warned the student's probation officer, referring to her grandchild as a "sociopath," according to the report.
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