Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin) legal practice is representing the Smith family in their lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools over the school’s failures in an alleged sexual assault.
“The facts are that a male student claiming to be ‘gender fluid’ was permitted to enter the girls’ bathroom on May 28 and sexually assault our daughter. Making matters worse, the school system repeatedly failed to protect her thereafter. Then, they concealed the sexual assault from the public while considering formalizing a bathroom access policy that would have – and now has – increased the likelihood of sexual assaults like these. As a result, our daughter and our family has suffered, and continue to suffer, from the very real consequences of a policy that endangers the safety of every student,” the victim’s parents said in a Thursday press release.
A second assault of another victim has also been alleged. In the press release, Stanley said, “What happened to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their daughter in Loudoun County is absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable. It is a nightmare no family should have to endure, yet it has happened twice in Loudoun Schools in the same year by the same perpetrator. This is outrageous.”
The Stanley Law Group hasn’t yet filed a complaint detailing their legal case or the outcome they seek.
“We will fight the wrongful and unconstitutional criminal charges against Mr. Smith in circuit court. We will protect the interests of their daughter at every turn of the legal process. And, we will pursue federal Title IX actions against the local government and all officials who are responsible for allowing this harm to come to the Smith’s daughter,” Stanley said in the press release.
At a June 22 school board meeting, during debate over a transgender school policy, school board Member Beth Barts asked, “Do we have assaults in our bathrooms and our locker rooms regularly?”
Barts said the last assault she could remember was in 2018.
“I think it’s important to keep our perspective on this, we’ve heard it several times tonight from our public speakers, but the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist,” Ziegler also said, according to Newsweek.
“When the School Board abruptly ended the meeting, I was confronted and taunted by an activist who supports the School Board’s bathroom policy. The activist was aware of the sexual assault on my daughter and wrongfully assumed I was going to speak. Despite being subjected to this unprovoked confrontation, I was unreasonably restrained by law enforcement, completely violating my constitutional rights,” he said in the Thursday press release.
On Friday, Ziegler held a press conference. In his statement, he said, “First, let me say to the families and students involved — my heart aches for you and I am sorry that we failed to provide the safe, welcoming, and affirming environment that we aspire to provide. We acknowledge and share in your pain and we will continue to offer support to help you and your families through this trauma.”
He added, “It is important to know that Title IX directs how schools must investigate allegations of sexual harassment/assault and provides equal protection for both victims and the alleged perpetrators. 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 the district would begin disciplinary action at the time of the incident instead of waiting for investigation results, and would separate alleged offenders from the student body.
Ziegler also addressed his June 22 statements: “Board Member Barts asked a question about discipline incidents in the bathrooms that I wrongly interpreted as incidents involving transgender and gender-fluid students. I did this because I was viewing the question in light of the general questions and debate around policy 8040 that was occurring at the time.”
“Multiple board members asked questions about the process, the experiences of students, and plans for transgender students and bathroom use during that discussion. My mindset was in line with that subject. At another point in that conversation, Chair Sheridan asked a question specifically about incidents involving transgender students, and I responded in the same manner. I regret that my comments were misleading and I apologize for the distress that error caused families. I should have asked Board Member Barts clarifying questions to get to the root of her question, rather than assuming what she meant,” he said.
In a press release Friday, the Stanley Law Group responded to Ziegler’s statement.
“Today, Superintendent Ziegler said what we already knew: that the actions of the Loudoun County School Board and Administration ‘failed to provide the safe environment’ for the Smith’s daughter. As evidenced by subsequent events and revelations, Loudoun Public Schools have been failing the parents who entrusted them to provide a safe environment for their children every day,” Stanley said.
“Superintendent Ziegler’s continued insistence that somehow the schools and the administration are not at fault for their conduct that led to the horrific sexual assault of the Smith’s daughter strains credulity. It is completely unacceptable and outrageous for Dr. Ziegler to blame the federal government’s Title IX protocols for the treatment of the Smith’s daughter and the subsequent sexual assault of yet another LCPS student,” he said.
Stanley concluded, “Loudoun County Public Schools is in this situation because it prioritized misguided policies of political correctness over student safety. What has ensued should serve as a cautionary tale for every public school system.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Bill Stanley” by Bill Stanley. Background Photo “Loudoun Public Schools Building” by Loudoun County Schools..