Loudoun County school superintendent, spokesman indicted for lying about transgender sex assaults

A grand jury has indicted the former Loudoun County school superintendent and spokesman on multiple counts for their roles in covering up transgender sex assaults in 2021.

Recently fired Superintendent Scott Ziegler was indicted on charges of false publication, prohibited conduct, and penalizing an employee for a court appearance, all misdemeanors. District spokesman Wayde Byard was indicted on a felony perjury charge. The indictments were unsealed by court order.

Ziegler’s charge of misdemeanor false publication alleges he lied during a now-infamous school board meeting in June 2021 in which the father of one of the victims gave his emotional testimony about the assault.

“[Ziegler] did knowingly and willfully state, deliver or transmit by any means whatever to any publisher, or employee of a publisher, of any newspaper, magazine, or other publication or to any owner, or employee of an owner, of any radio station, television station, news service or cable service, any false and untrue statement, knowing the same to be false or untrue, concerning any person or corporation, with intent that the same shall be published, broadcast or otherwise disseminated,” the indictment says.

Ziegler was unceremoniously sacked by the school board last week for his part in the cover-up after the release of a special grand jury report, as reported previously by The Lion. The school district announced it had placed Byard on leave Monday afternoon.

Ziegler and others lied in denying the father’s claim his daughter had been raped in a school bathroom by a biological male student wearing a skirt. Their denial failed both the girls who had been assaulted and the community at large, the report says. 

During the June 2021 board meeting, Ziegler vehemently denied the father’s claims, saying “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist” and “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” 

However, emails show Ziegler and others were indeed aware of the assault at the time of the meeting. The denial ultimately resulted in a second assault by the same offender at another school in the district. 

“LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS,” the grand jury’s report concluded. “This invariably led to a stunning lack of openness, transparency, and accountability both to the public and the special grand jury.”

The other indictments against Ziegler allege he retaliated against special education teacher Erin Brooks in September “for expressing views on matters of public concern” and making a court appearance in relation to a lawsuit she and another teacher brought against the school.

Brooks’ contract wasn’t renewed, she says, in retaliation for filing two Title IX complaints, testifying to a grand jury and making public comments at a June 2022 board meeting. This all stems from the school’s mishandling of her reports of being repeatedly sexually assaulted by one of her students, the lawsuit alleges.

The school district denied those accusations as well, saying the student was nonverbal and his actions were being mischaracterized by the teachers. The district further claimed the teachers had violated policy by improperly sharing student records. Brooks and the other teacher deny those accusations.

Byard’s indictment alleges he lied while under oath Aug. 2.

Ziegler vowed to “vigorously” defend himself in a statement Tuesday, while characterizing the grand jury process as “attorney general-controlled, secret, and one-sided.” He also called the accusations “false and irresponsible,” claiming they are the result of “partisan forces which have divided our community.”

The parents of one of the victims expressed their frustration at the ordeal they and their daughter have had to endure for over a year since she was assaulted.

“One thing we feel is important to note is that over the last 14 months since our daughter was assaulted, not one member of the school board, LCPS administration, or even our local high school leadership has reached out to check on how she is doing, lend any type of support or even apologize for what we are going through as a family. That alone speaks volumes to what we have endured throughout this ordeal,” they said in a statement.

“Parents need to feel that they can send their kids to a safe learning environment. This county has great residents and we need our elected and public servants to represent and show that greatness as well.”

The family’s attorney, Patrick M. Regan, released a statement calling for justice after the grand jury’s report was made public.

“My client is a minor and a victim of sexual assault,” his statement said. “The victim’s family and I have vowed to work tirelessly toward getting justice for their daughter.”

On Tuesday parents demanded the Loudoun County school board members also resign in shame.

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