Loudoun County

Loudoun school sex assault investigation unsealed by judge

In May 2021, a male student sexually assaulted a girl classmate inside a restroom at Stone Bridge High School. He was transferred to Broad Run High School for the next school year, where he assaulted another girl

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Loudoun County Public Schools failed to meet its federal Title IX obligations after sexual assaults in two high schools in 2021, an independent investigation unsealed Thursday found.

News4 obtained the first public copy of the investigation that families in Northern Virginia have waited nearly two years for.

The report says LCPS took an "overly narrow view of its Title IX obligations in this matter."

In May 2021, a male student sexually assaulted a girl classmate inside a restroom at Stone Bridge High School. He was transferred to Broad Run High School for the next school year, where he assaulted another girl.

The report says the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office effectively directed the school district to hold off on launching a Title IX investigation after the first attack, even though, the report says, the school district was legally obligated to do so.

It took months for the district to launch a Title IX investigation because the district's Title IX coordinator thought they needed to get information about the attack from the sheriff's office, which the sheriff's office was slow to provide, the report says.

The director of school administration told the Title IX coordinator, “This is an example where we, by law, have to be involved earlier in the process.”

The report found that the attacker was not transferred to Broad Run until the day before school started that fall, and only because the attacker’s mother had explained multiple times to the Stone Bridge High principal that a judge said her son could not return to Stone Bridge.

The reports says that when transferring the student, the district never conducted a threat assessment of the attacker and it should have. The report could not conclude, though, that a threat assessment would have prevented the second attack.

After much discussion over whether the perpetrator was transgender or wore a skirt to get into the restroom where the first teen was attacked, the report found no evidence that the attacker identified as female or gender fluid. It found no evidence that he wore a skirt or kilt that day, and no witnesses reported seeing him in a girl’s bathroom or trying to get into one.

LCPS released the following statement:

The Loudoun County School Board is aware of the Loudoun County Circuit Court’s ruling authorizing the public release of the independent review conducted by the law firm of Blankingship & Keith. While the School Board maintains that the report is subject to the attorney-client privilege, is attorney work product, and contains sensitive information pertaining to identifiable students, it believes it is in the interest of the families of Loudoun not to contest this ruling.

Loudoun County Public Schools has taken numerous, significant actions since 2021 in the areas of personnel changes, organizational changes, policy changes, process improvements, legislative proposals, and training to prevent incidents like the tragedies that occurred two years ago from happening again, to improve supports for our students, and to ensure that LCPS responds swiftly and appropriately to student and staff safety concerns and misconduct. Some of the most notable actions have been replacing the former Division Superintendent, replacing the former LCPS Title IX Coordinator, establishing a full-time Title IX Office with multiple personnel to process allegations and complaints, reviewing and updating 10 related School Board policies, updating our Memorandum of Understanding with our County law enforcement partners to ensure a more collaborative working relationship with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office and Leesburg Police Department, and working together with the Juvenile Court Service Unit to improve the student arrest-notification process.

“The Board is dedicated to continuing to work with families and the larger LCPS community to address concerns, continuously improve, and rebuild trust,” stated School Board Chair Ian Serotkin.

The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office released the following statement:

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is 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.

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.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.

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