Home Top Stories Family of Loudoun County sexual assault victim sues district for $30M over student’s rape in school bathroom

Family of Loudoun County sexual assault victim sues district for $30M over student’s rape in school bathroom

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Family of Loudoun County sexual assault victim sues district for $30M over student’s rape in school bathroom

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The family of a teenage girl who was raped in a high school bathroom is suing Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia for $30 million over accusations the school district failed to adequately investigate and that it attempted to cover up the sexual assault.

The Northern Virginia district garnered national attention after a father, Scott Smith, made allegations at a June 2021 school board meeting that it covered up his daughter’s sexual assault from May 28 of that year, when he alleges a biological boy wearing a skirt raped her in the girls’ bathroom at Stone Bridge High School. Smith said the district had attempted to cover up his daughter’s assault to push its controversial transgender bathroom policy, which faced parental protests at LCPS school board meetings that year.

The student accused of rape was charged after the May assault and barred by court order from returning to Stone Bridge. The attacker was then transferred by administrators to another school in the district, Broad Run High School, where the student sexually assaulted another girl in an empty classroom in October 2021. The attacker, who was 15 at the time, was convicted as a juvenile in both cases.

In the lawsuit, the family alleges that the district lied to the public to cover up the May assault because it was working to advance Policy 8040, which allows students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity. The policy had not been implemented at the time of the assault.

FORMER LOUDOUN COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT ZIEGLER CONVICTED OF SPECIAL ED. TEACHER’S RETALIATORY FIRING

Parent Protest in Loudoun County, Virginia

Parents protesting at a controversial transgender bathroom policy at a school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia, on June 22, 2021.  (Reuters)

The victim “struggled academically, emotionally and physically for the remainder of the school year” and “continues to struggle significantly,” the complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria reads.

A grand jury report released in December said the district was looking out for its own interests over the best interests of its students in its handling of the sexual assaults, emphasizing that LCPS “failed at every juncture.”

The report said LCPS displayed a “stunning lack of openness, transparency and accountability, both to the public and to the special grand jury” about its response to the sexual assaults. The report also condemned then-Superintendent Scott Ziegler for denying at the June 2021 school board meeting that he had any knowledge of the May assault.

Ziegler said at the school board meeting that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist,” and, to his knowledge, “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” But on the day of the assault in May, Ziegler told school board members in an email that the assault had been reported.

Scott Ziegler

Former Superintendent Scott Ziegler had denied at a school board meeting that he had any knowledge of the May 2021 sexual assault. (Getty)

LOUDOUN COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT ZIEGLER FIRED AFTER GRAND JURY REPORT ON HANDLING OF SEXUAL ASSAULTS

According to emails outlined in the report, senior district officials had privately met to discuss the first assault and connected it to LCPS’s transgender policy.

A law firm later requested by the school board to conduct an investigation found “no evidence that the perpetrator identified as a female or that he wore a skirt or kilt in an effort to gain access to the girls’ bathrooms.” The law firm’s report from December 2021 also said teachers at both schools warned administrators of the attacker’s conduct weeks before each assault and that the student’s grandmother even warned his probation officer and called him a “sociopath.”

The firm also accused Ziegler of lying about the May assault at the June 2021 school board meeting.

Woman holds a sign at a school board meeting

A woman holds a sign as Loudoun County School Board members vote to enact Policy 8040 during a school board meeting at the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building on August 11, 2021, in Ashburn, Va. (Getty)

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The criticism of the district from the grand jury and the law firm for failing to adequately respond to the assaults included the law firm’s report saying the district did not appear to have made “any outreach to victim 1 or her family to check on her.”

The school board fired Ziegler days after the grand jury report. Last week, he was found guilty of the retaliatory firing of a special education teacher, a misdemeanor charge linked to the district’s handling of the two sexual assaults.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into LCPS over its handling of the sexual assaults.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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