LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - A judge unsealed on Thursday the internal report done following two assaults that took place in two high schools by the same student in Loudoun County.
The report deals with a 2021 sexual assault case in which a 15-year-old student assaulted a schoolmate at Stone Bridge, and then while awaiting trial allegedly sexually assaulted another teenage girl at Broad Run High School. The 15-year-old student was found guilty of sexual battery, abduction and two counts of sodomy in the sexual assault at Stone Bridge High School in January 2021.
This caused a firestorm as parents demanded answers on how this could happen or could have been prevented, and feeling that the truth was being covered up.
In February, the Loudoun County School Board voted not to release an internal report. The report was unsealed as part of the Attorney General’s office’s case against former Superintendent Scott Ziegler.
Loudoun County became a flashpoint for its handling of this case, with parents demanding more transparency within the school system.
The Loudoun County Public School's report is 32 pages long. While private information was redacted, the inquiry highlighted three specific issues.
The report says there was a delay in the Title 9 investigation process – that the district felt it had passed the investigation of the first assault to the sheriff’s office, and the schools didn’t do enough to conduct their own inquiry.
The report also says there was no threat assessment done on the student after the first assault before he transferred schools — the report makes specific mention that it may not have prevented the second assault, but it should have been done.
And finally, that the district took too narrow a view of its Title 9 obligations — that an alleged assault and the facts as they knew them should have been enough to start a more thorough school investigation.
Scott Smith is the parent of the student who was assaulted at Stone Bridge. He was just pardoned this week by Governor Glenn Youngkin after he was arrested at a heated school board meeting in 2021.
He calls this another step towards accountability and says the report outlining the communication between the district and law enforcement got his attention.
"One thing that stuck out to me, honestly, was that the sheriffs didn’t communicate with the schools, and the schools didn’t communicate with the sheriff’s department. That’s a real big problem, and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed," said Smith.
Through a spokesperson, LCPS says they still object to the release of the report but cited improvements they’ve made to communications processes and Title IX procedures. The sheriff’s office has previously acknowledged that communication under the last administration could have been better, and ensured it’s improved greatly under the new superintendent.
Former superintendent Scott Ziegler's attorney released a statement saying he never had issue with this report being released and hopes it brings healing and transparency to Loudoun County.
Ziegler faces three misdemeanor charges stemming from his handling of all this, and his attorney just filed a motion to dismiss the case. That hearing is slated for next week.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office released a statement, saying they are "pleased that this important report has been unsealed and is available for public review."
"An investigation was commissioned by the Loudoun County School Board (LCSB) on October 28, 2021, and this report was issued by the law firm of Blankenship & Keith, P.C., on December 31, 2021, regarding alleged sexual assaults at Stone Bridge High School and Broad Run High School that year. While investigating these allegations, LCSO detectives at all times acted to protect the identity of the victims and the integrity of ongoing criminal investigations to ensure justice for the victims. LCSO’s jurisdiction was and remains different from that of the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), and each has a role to play. The LCSO has sole responsibility for conducting criminal investigations," the statement reads. "A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the LCSO and LCPS was approved on June 13, 2023. It reflects progress made in collaboration between LCSO and LCPS, to include permitting concurrent criminal and Title IX investigations to the extent permissible under our respective policies and regulations."