The mother of a teenage girl who at the age of 14 fell into the hands of sex traffickers is suing the Virginia school district she blames for her daughter’s trauma and the government lawyer who interfered with her efforts to return the girl home.
Officials at Appomattox County Public Schools concealed Sage Blair’s gender transition from her parents and hid the fact that she was being bullied over dressing like a boy, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday by Michelle Blair. The events and secrecy led to Sage running away from her rural Virginia home, only to be captured by a sex trafficker and taken to Baltimore, Maryland, where she was held in a locked room and raped by multiple men, the lawsuit said.
But the girl’s saga didn’t end there. When the FBI recovered her, a Baltimore public defender named Aneesa Khan — a target of the lawsuit — worked to keep the girl in Maryland until her parents accepted her gender transition. The mother had not refused to accept her child’s transition because she did not even know about it, but Khan threw away the letters that Michelle Blair was sending her and led the girl to believe that she had been abandoned by her parents, the lawsuit said.
The 14 year old rape victim was put in a Baltimore group home with teenage boys and “told by Khan that her parents no longer wanted her, and that Khan was going to arrange for [her] to live with a family in Maryland who would affirm her as a boy,” the lawsuit states.
Even after a judge said that it would be illegal under the Interstate Compact on Juveniles to refuse to return the girl to Virginia, the girl remained in Baltimore while Khan appealed. She was only returned to her Virginia home after she ran away from the Maryland facilities and was abducted by a man who brought her to Texas, where she was again raped and tortured, according to the lawsuit. Officials in Texas, unlike Maryland, promptly returned her to her parents, the lawsuit said.
She was sex-trafficked again until she was recovered in Texas, which unlike Maryland, promptly returned her to her loving parents, the lawsuit said.
Khan went to great lengths to keep Sage in Maryland. After the judge stated that there were no grounds to keep her from home, Khan enlisted two counselors from the Appomattox school to accuse Michelle Blair of child abuse in Virginia, an attempt to get her child taken from her, even though none of them had ever spoken to Michelle, the lawsuit states.
Michelle was herself a certified foster home volunteer who had been extensively vetted, and Appomattox deemed the charges unsubstantiated.
Melissa Rothstein, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender — whose email signature includes her pronouns — returned a request for comment from The Daily Wire only by expressing concern for the safety of the lawyer, Khan.
“We remain concerned for her safety and caution against including personal identifying information or photo, which could reignite and expand these threats,” Rothstein said.
School board members in the conservative area of rural Virginia, including chair Bobby Waddell and vice chair Wyatt Torrence, have failed to respond to The Daily Wire’s requests for comment on the case. The board has not yet adopted Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students in Virginia Public Schools, which would bar schools from transitioning students without their parents’ approval, though they discussed them August 17, according to board minutes.
Superintendent Annette A. Bennett did not return a request for comment on behalf of herself or counselors Dena Olsen and Avery Via, who are also named in the lawsuit.
In January, Virginia state Republican lawmakers introduced Sage’s Law, which would bar counselors from hiding a student’s gender transition from her parents; block counselors from encouraging children to keep secrets from their parents; and ensuring that laws on child abuse cannot be interpreted as including parents who don’t affirm a child’s gender transition. The Republican-led House passed the law, but the Democrat-led Senate killed it.
The lawsuit seeks “to recover damages for tortious interference with the parent-child relationship, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, professional malpractice, and other rights under Virginia law.”
“Deprived of her parents’ care and treatment as a result of Appomattox Defendants’ conduct, S.B. feared continuing harassment and assaults at school and threats from schoolmates to pursue S.B. and her family at home and ran away. She was found by an adult male who kidnapped S.B., drugged and violently raped her in the backseat of his car. It was this man that she lost her virginity to. He then drove her to Washington, D.C. and left her with two men who raped and drugged her again. These two men drove her to Maryland and left her with a registered sex offender. He kept S.B. in a locked room after raping her and trafficking her to other men,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit says that the school not only hid the girl’s gender transition from her parents, but encouraged it. Counselors summoned Sage to discuss her gender eight times during the first 12 days of the 2021-22 school year, the suit said, alleging that the counselors were providing major psychiatric care that they were not qualified or authorized to perform.
“In the sessions, Ms. Olsen encouraged S.B. to ‘embrace’ her male identity. Mr. Via also directed S.B. to internet sites, apps, and social media networks that promoted transgender ideas, indicating she could find friends there,” it said. It added that there was evidence that the counselors did not even review her file, showing existing mental health issues, before encouraging her to live as a boy, and that they did not initiate Title IX investigations, as required, when she was harassed at school.
The girl realized after her traumatic experience that she never was a boy, she told her mother, according to The Federalist. “I don’t know who I was. I’m a totally different person now. I never was a boy. Everybody was doing it, I just wanted to have friends,” she said.
The lawsuit charges Khan for failing “to act in the best interest of her client.”
“As S.B.’s attorney, Ms. Khan had an obligation to act in the best interest of her client whom she knew to be a citizen and resident of Virginia living with parents in Virginia, and who was present in Maryland only as the result of being sex trafficked across state lines.”
The Daily Wire told Sage’s heartbreaking story at length in January.