A special grand jury in Loudoun County, Virginia, found that a legal representative for the locality’s school board allegedly engaged in witness tampering during an investigation into the board and school administrators’ handling of a sexual assault of a female student at the hands of a “gender fluid” boy in a high school bathroom last year.
In a report released Wednesday, the grand jury revealed that the division counsel for the Loudoun County School Board (LCSB) was “obstructionist” throughout the “witness testimony” portion of the investigation, often cutting off the board members he represented whenever “he felt certain information was about to be revealed.”
“LCSB’s counsel consistently and repeatedly objected to questions that would elicit information about a meeting or conversation that occurred when [he] was present — regardless of whether that meeting or conversation had anything to do with soliciting legal advice, or if division counsel was even a party to the meeting or conversation,” the report reads.
The jury also noted that LCSB’s counsel routinely “objected to certain questions even though he had allowed previous witnesses to answer the exact same question” and utilized “hand signals and other methods” to exchange information with witnesses as they testified.
But the interference by the school’s board legal representative didn’t stop there. After the grand jury received a May 2021 email from the Loudoun County Public Schools chief operating officer regarding the purported sexual assault and a policy known as 8040, the LCSB legal rep soon became aware of its existence and alerted the board members. While testifying before the grand jury, several LCSB members proceeded to deliver the “exact same story” regarding the incident and policy in question.
“We strongly believe these stories coming from the board members is an effort by division counsel to get everybody on the same page to thwart, discredit, and push back against this investigation and this report, and to promote their own narrative,” the report reads. “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 were unable to consider an indictment against the [Loudoun County Public Schools] LCPS division counsel.”
While the grand jury asserts there was not a “coordinated cover-up [of the sexual assault] between LCPS administrators and members of the LCSB,” Loudoun Superintendent Scott Ziegler lied to the public at a school board meeting in June 2021 when he claimed that he had no knowledge of any sexual assaults occurring in school bathrooms, despite an email from the day of the assault showing otherwise.
Throughout their investigation, the grand jury also found numerous incidents of maladministration and incompetence among LCPS school officials in dealing with the purported assault. A special education teaching assistant, for instance, walked into the bathroom while the May 28, 2021, assault was occurring but failed to report it to school administrators, even after noticing two pairs of feet in one of the stalls.
The assistant later testified that such a situation was not uncommon and that school officials “usually don’t do anything” when it arises, pointing to female students helping each other acquire menstrual products and consoling their friends over relationship problems as justification for not taking action. Despite school officials’ knowledge of the assault not long after it occurred, the assailant remained “at large in the school for over three hours,” according to the report.