Loudon County official KNEW of sexual assault and responded to email, report reveals

The Loudoun County Public Schools board was informed of an alleged sexual assault that took place in a high school bathroom on May 28, 2021, an email from Superintendent Scott Ziegler shows.

The email, which was reported by WTOP-TV, alerted the school board that an incident took place at Stone Bridge High School in which a female student alleged she was sexually assaulted by a male student in the restroom.

Mahedavi replied to the May 28 email that day, writing: “Dr. Ziegler, Has there been any update on this case that you can share with the board?” Ziegler replied: “This matter is under investigation by law enforcement, and I am unable to provide an update.”

The same day, school board member Beth Barts also wrote the superintendent, suggesting she had heard of a sexual assault from parents: “In addition to understanding where LCPS is in regards to the allegations of sexual assault (per the parents) I would like to know how LCPS will handle the rally Wednesday?”

Ziegler did not address the question about sexual assault in his reply but only informed her that he would lock up the administration building to make it “unavailable to attendees” at an event of angry parents. Barts — who asked the question to which Ziegler answered “no,” without bringing up the May incident — subsequently announced her resignation from the board. The emails were released pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the parents’ group Fight For Schools.

According to WTOP-TV, the details of the incident were not disclosed to the school board because the board may be involved in student disciplinary actions, and they are rarely told the specifics of major incidents at schools.

School board member Beth Barts asked the superintendent if there were sexual assaults in restrooms occurring regularly. “The predator transgender student or person simply does not exist,” Ziegler answered at that meeting. “We don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”

Last week, Ziegler apologized for making a “misleading” remark, claiming that he thought the question was specifically referring to assaults involving transgender students. “First, let me say to the families and students involved, my heart aches for you,” Ziegler said in an Oct. 15 statement. “And I am sorry that we failed to provide the safe, welcoming and affirming environment that we aspire to provide. We acknowledge and share your pain and we will continue to offer you support to help your families through this trauma.”

The victim’s family now intends to file a civil lawsuit against the school. Bill Stanley, an attorney representing the family, said in a statement that Ziegler’s apology confirmed that the school administration “failed to provide the safe environment” for the victim.

“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. “That trust has (been) irrevocably broken by Loudoun County Public Schools’ actions and inactions.”

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