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BREAKING: Loudon County Grand Jury report reveals educators looked out 'for their own interests' over student safety during rape scandal

"They failed at every juncture."

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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On Monday, a special grand jury report detailing Loudon County Public School’s (LCPS) handling of two sexual assault cases was released, coming over one year since the incidents occured, and after backlash that brought national attention to the case. The report from the nine-person special grand jury stated "we believe that throughout this ordeal LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS."

The case involved a male student raping a female student in a girls' bathroom. After that incident, the alleged offender was transferred to another school, where he offended again. The first school did not tell the second school why the student was being transferred to a new school.

"This invariably led to a stunning lack of openness, transparency, and accountability both to the public and the special grand jury," the report continues. "There were several decision points for senior LCPS administrators, up to and including the superintendent, to be transparent and step in and alter the sequence of events leading up to the October 6, 2021 (Broad Run High School) sexual assault."

"They failed at every juncture."

The jury concluded that there was not a coordinated cover-up effort between LCPS administrators and the Loudon County School Board (LCSB), and that apart from a May 28, 2021 email from the superintendent, the board was "deliberately deprived of information regarding these incidents until after the October 6, 2021 sexual assault — and even then they learned not from the superintendent’s office but instead from public reporting that the assailant was the same one from the May 28 incident."

The report states that the October 6 incident "could have, and should have, been prevented."

"A remarkable lack of curiosity and adherence to operating in silos by LCPS administrators is ultimately to blame for the October 6 incident," the report states.

"While we strongly believe LCPS bears the brunt of the blame for the October 6 indecent and the transfer of the student from SBHS to BRHS, a breakdown of communication between and amongst multiple parties — including the Loudon County Sheriff’s office, the Court Services Unit, and the Loudon County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office — led to the tragic events that occurred."

The report noted that an email regarding the offending student was sent on May 12, 2021, by a teacher’s assistant to her supervisors, stating, "… but if this kind of reckless behavior persists, I wouldn’t want to be held accountable if someone should get hurt."

Just 16 days later, this student sexually assaulted a female student in the high school’s girls restrooms.

"For nearly three hours after the sexual assault, the individual was missing and at-large in SBHS. At around 2:15 pm the father of the girl who was sexually assaulted arrived at SBHS. He was very upset to learn what had happened to his daughter and became very loud after initially being denied entry into the building," the report states.

The report continues on to state that the father was removed from the building at around 2:30, during which time the student was still at-large within the building. The principal during that time also reached out to the superintendent’s office to get a "no trespass letter" against the father.

At 3:30, the LCPS chief operating officer sent an email to the superintendent and senior staff, stating "the incident at SBHC is relating to policy 8040. I will send a Teams appointment from 3:30 to 5 and I’ll log in now and offer an update if you want to log in between now and then."

"Policy 8040 addresses the rights of transgender and gender-expansive students," the report states, noting that just six people joined this Teams meeting.

"We believe this Teams meeting was the beginning of the complete lack of transparency by LCPS surrounding this situation."

Shortly after the meeting ended, an email was sent at 4:10 pm by the superintendent to the LCSB informing them of the sexual assault allegations.

The principal of Stone Bridge sent an email at 4:46 to the community informing them of that day’s incident, but "neither mentioned, nor hinted at, the sexual assault that took place in the bathroom, instead focusing on the father of the victim who arrived at the school."

This email had been drafted by the district’s public information officer, and was edited and approved by the superintendent.

During a school board meeting on June 22, 2021, the superintendent said in a question response, "to my knowledge we don’t have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms."

"We believe this statement was a lie," the report states.

On July 2, 2021, two juvenile arrest warrants, or petitions, were issued against the student for two counts of forcible sodomy relating to the May 28 assault.

He was detained on July 8, but was released on July 26 per state law. The court stated as part of his release that the student not be returned to SBHS, and he was subsequently transferred to BRHS.

At BRHS, two students alerted their art teacher that the now-former SBHS student had been making them feel "uncomfortable bye the way he was behaving" because he had been following their friend group. The teacher reported this to the principal, who did not inform the teacher of the events at SBHS.

On September 9, 2021, the student grabbed the shoulder of a female student "really hard," and kept tapping the girl on the head with a pencil in class. He also tried to take her Chromebook, and asked her if she had ever posted nudes online, as well as asking a male student if his grandmother had posted nudes.

"Despite having a twelve-page disciplinary file, wearing an ankle monitor, being closely monitored by the Broad Run principal, knowledge of this incident by the highest administrators in LCPS and a suggestion by the court services unit that a more serious punishment be given, The individual received nothing more than a verbal admonishment for these actions," the report states.

On October 6, 2021, less than one month later, "the individual snatched an unassuming female out of the hallway, abducted her into an empty classroom, nearly asphyxiated her, and sexually assaulted her."

"Given facts learned through this investigation, multiple witnesses testified the October 6, 2021 crimes should have been prevented and expressed disgust, outrage, and sadness that they occurred," the report states. "We asked the Broad Run principal whether he felt any responsibility for what happened to the girl who was abducted and sexually assault on October 6, 2021, but he did not answer after his attorney objected and mentioned the Fifth Amendment."

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