Investigation

Loudoun Said Trump’s Policies Forced Them To Cover Up Rape. Its Own Lawyers Found The Opposite In Secret Report.

LCPS tried to blame Donald Trump's Title IX policies for its rape coverup. But its own lawyers said Trump made the policies more stringent, and there "can be no doubt" that LCPS violated them--potentially giving ammunition to the father of the rape victim in a lawsuit.

   DailyWire.com
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testifies during a hearing before House Education and Labor Committee December 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

A secret internal report commissioned by the Loudoun County, Virginia public school system found that school administrators failed to even look into a 2021 rape by a skirt-wearing boy, in brazen violation of federal Title IX laws governing sexual harassment.

The report, written by Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS)’s own law firm Blankenship & Keith, emerged last week after a judge blocked the school system’s efforts to continue hiding it. It found that the Title IX rules were clear — especially after changes made under President Donald Trump in 2020 emphasized the need to investigate all allegations of sexual harassment.

LCPS commissioned the report, billing it as an accountability measure and suggesting it would be released to the public. But after the report was written, it reversed course, refusing to disclose it even after Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits, and even initially pursuant to a subpoena from Virginia’s Attorney General.

Now that it’s been released, one reason for the about-face is clear. Responding to The Daily Wire’s bombshell report in October 2021, the school district’s then-Superintendent Scott Ziegler held a press conference in which he blamed the federal government and Title IX, saying the primary measure the school district would take in response was lobbying the feds to change regulations.

“Throughout these recent events, the Loudoun County Public Schools complied with our obligations under Title IX. However, we have found the process outlined under Title IX by the U.S. Department of Education to be insufficient in addressing issues at the K-12 level. We believe the process could be strengthened with some reforms,” Ziegler said at the 2021 press conference.

It was a brazen dog-whistle to liberals, conjuring hysterical headlines from recent months that suggested that Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, had implemented rules protecting males accused of sexual violence in educational environments. But the statement by Ziegler was false, according to LCPS’s own lawyers.

DeVos made many changes to the Title IX regulations, and some addressed how male college students could be tossed off campus with little due process even for spurious accusations of sexual assault. But at the K-12 level, she broadened the range of sexual misconduct that required investigation, and required swift punitive action where applicable.

“Prior to 2020, the Title IX regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education did not include specific requirements related to sexual harassment. The 2020 amendments to the Title XI regulations set forth the requirements for a school division’s response to sexual harassment and added the minimum specific, legally binding steps that school divisions must take in response to notice of alleged sexual harassment,” the LCPS lawyers’ report said. “Under the 2020 amendments to the regulations, sexual harassment is defined to include certain types of unwelcome sexual conduct, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.”

That was relevant because while rape was always covered, LCPS administrators had convinced themselves that they didn’t know a rape occurred, and therefore didn’t have an obligation to investigate whether it did. Instead, they claimed, it might have been something less bad, which might not have required a Title IX investigation.

The report said all of this was inapplicable “theoretical” talk.

“The amended Title IX regulations also require school divisions to respond to an allegation of sexual harassment whenever any school employee has notice of sexual harassment,” it said. “Based on the above information that was conveyed to Stone Bridge HS administrators and a school nurse, there can be no doubt that on May 28, 2021, within an hour of the incident, LCPS had actual notice of allegations of sexual harassment as defined by Title IX. Regardless of whether LCPS was certain whether the alleged sexual harassment had occurred, it had notice of alleged misconduct that could meet the definition of sexual harassment.”

But the report said that in violation of Title IX, Loudoun never even began a Title IX investigation.

“Title IX imposed upon LCPS the obligation to have its Title IX Coordinator make an initial assessment of the allegations for Title IX applicability… Counsel found no evidence that this occurred,” it said.

They also began talking as if they merely had an allegation of “attempted” sexual misconduct, which they claimed might not trigger Title IX. “Ultimately, the Title IX Coordinator concluded that ‘my review based on the information we have is this does not rise to the level of Title IX. An allegation of rape yes, an allegation of attempted rape? Maybe,’” the report said.

But they had simply invented the fact that it was an “attempted” rape. The victim immediately reported the rape to the school nurse. Principal Tim Flynn then wrote that it was an “attempted” rape. Pressed on the matter during the perjury trial of spokesman Wayde Byard, who was acquitted, Flynn struggled to explain why he had written that, suggesting the education doctorate did not know the difference between the words “alleged” and “attempted.”

The school system called the police on the rape victim’s father for showing up at the school angry in the hours after the rape, then offered counseling to students who might be traumatized by seeing police at school — falsely saying the police were there only to respond to an angry parent. But LCPS never offered any counseling to the rape victim, its lawyers found.

“LCPS does not appear to have made any outreach to Victim 1 or her family to check on her or to otherwise offer supportive measures as a victim of sexual harassment,” it said, despite Title IX requiring it to “promptly contact Victim I or her family to discuss the availability and need for supportive measures.”

Title IX changes during the Trump administration also mandated schools to conduct “threat assessments” to keep students safe after an incident, which LCPS did not do. That might have prevented the rapist from striking again, which he did shortly afterwards, the report said. Even though the Loudoun school board kept all students at home for “distance learning” during COVID, they didn’t consider it for someone who had been arrested for rape and was wearing a GPS ankle monitor, instead returning him to school.

“The 2020 amendments to Title IX feature many principles of threat assessments… Even if the threat assessment did not result in consideration of distance/virtual learning or placement in a specialized school designed to educate students who presented potential safety concerns, the assessment could have helped determine the conditions of, or protocols relating to, the Perpetrator’s continued education,” it said.

Even after the rape coverup scandal, LCPS did not open any Title IX investigations (except for against the rapist after his second assault and subsequent media coverage). “Since the beginning of SY 2021-22, 159 reports have been submitted by school-based administrators for evaluation as Title IX issues. None of the 159 reports have been determined to meet the threshold to open a Title IX investigation… Counsel has some concern that the Title IX office may be employing a too restrictive interpretation of Title IX.”

Ziegler heads to a criminal trial next week, where he faces three misdemeanor charges, including one for a false statement in which he denied that there had been any sexual assaults in the schools’ bathrooms, when he knew a gender-fluid teen had allegedly anally raped a ninth-grade girl in the girls’ bathroom just weeks prior. That rapist was later convicted. Ziegler has shown up to court dates so far wearing an earring and nail polish.

The school district’s lawyer was Robert Falconi, who previously worked for Fairfax County Public Schools, which had been rebuffed by the federal government for, like LCPS, falsely claiming that Title IX required schools to take no action until after law enforcement was done investigating. FCPS also was rebuffed by the courts after making the same argument as LCPS that it didn’t need to investigative whether something occurred unless it was sure that thing had occurred. A lawyer called that a Catch-22.

The school system in neighboring Alexandria recently hired Falconi away from Loudoun, to the consternation of many parents.

Scott Smith, the father of the Loudoun rape victim, is suing LCPS over Title IX violations in federal court in Alexandria. The fact that the report reveals that LCPS’ own lawyers said in strong terms that it egregiously violated Title IX makes it more likely that he could win millions of dollars.

County prosecutor Buta Biberaj, who tried to jail Smith, has loudly bemoaned her efforts to prosecute him for cursing at a leftist activist who said she did not believe that his daughter was raped were thwarted by a pardon from Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

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