LEESBURG, Va. - Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office hired a registered sex offender convicted of a child pornography charge – shocking prosecutors working in the office at the time.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Loudoun County confirmed the man was hired as a paralegal but refused to confirm the date or length of employment, citing a Virginia code on personnel records.
The man, who was hired and then fired days later, agreed to an interview. While his mug shot, name, and address are publicly available on the Virginia sex offender registry, FOX 5 agreed to only use his first name, John, as he tries to rebuild his life after five years in prison.
He said when federal investigators showed up at his house in 2013, he had been struggling with mental illness and became obsessed with collecting pornography on the internet.
"I would end up with hundreds, and then it became thousands of files of various types, both adult, child … Sometimes pretty horrific stuff," he said.
John said he started studying law and helping fellow inmates with legal issues while he was incarcerated from 2014 to 2019. He applied to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office last year.
"I thought it would be a great opportunity to use my paralegal skills," he said.
In March 2021, he said he was hired and was told to come in the next day.
"I was kind of surprised how quickly the process went," John said. "And I was expecting there to be the background check, of course. Everyone does a background check these days."
He said when he got called into human resources, he thought it was to discuss his criminal past.
"But instead it turned into, ‘Here’s your badge, here’s all the access you need for the computers,’ and things just kind of went rolling from there," he said. "I would immediately start working on different cases and had immediate access to the files."
He said he was fired a few days later. Sources working in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office at the time tell FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts that it was John’s probation officer who called to confirm his employment and that’s how his sex offender status was discovered.
John said he had been texting with his probation officer after he was issued a computer and access to case files prompting concern from his probation officer.
FOX 5 talked to former prosecutors who were stunned by what happened. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of continued work in the legal field.
"I thought it was wild, but it was also expected," said a former prosecutor. "That office is just chaos with the high turnover, lack of experience, and poor management."
That person also said: "I did not get a background check."
A long-time prosecutor said that paralegals have free access to years of past cases, including sex crimes.
"He had access to every closed case for a number of years," the person said.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj wouldn’t answer questions about what happened, but provided a statement:
"Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (OCA) cannot comment on personnel matters. Applicants for employment are reviewed through established Loudoun County Human Resources processes. Thereafter, the applicants are referred to OCA. Candidates submit to a vetting process. All offers of employment are contingent on, and subject to, a background check, and a probationary period. If a candidate is deemed inappropriate, our office takes immediate action to rectify any concerns."
John says he was sent to the sheriff’s office for fingerprinting, but only after he started work. He said it was Biberaj who called him in to fire him.
"She had stated what my offense was and had told me that I should’ve disclosed it to them," he said. "They thought it was inappropriate that I would go into their office and start working with a felony offense."
He said he’s tried to immediately disclose his sex offender status while job hunting, but it has caused him to be immediately disqualified.
John said he has applied for hundreds of jobs but remains unemployed.