School board scuffle conviction dismissed for father of Loudoun Co. high school rape victim

A Loudoun County, Virginia, father whose daughter was raped at Stone Bridge High School — leading to the father’s arrest at a contentious June 22 school board meeting — has had one of two convictions dismissed.

The man, whom WTOP is not naming to avoid indirectly identifying the teenage victim of a sexual assault, had been arrested and convicted in District Court of two misdemeanors — disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice.

That meeting had been disrupted by audience outbursts over discussions of critical race theory and transgender policy.

The judge in District Court, Thomas Kelley Jr., found the father guilty on both counts, but suspended all 10 days of jail.

The man chose to appeal his convictions in Circuit Court. And Monday, Judge James Plowman ruled the lower court judge hadn’t completely filled out paperwork related to the conviction and sentence of one count — obstruction of justice — and threw out the count.

“I know he found him guilty in both cases, but based on what he signed on August 17, I’m not sure I have much choice here,” said Plowman, referring to the date the district judge signed the final disposition. “I don’t believe I have any choice but to dismiss the obstruction-of-justice count.”

The disorderly conduct conviction remains.

Plowman also heard arguments from the father’s attorney, William Stanley, who is seeking to have Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj removed from the case. He claims her decision to prosecute his client, and personally try the case, is politically based. Stanley is seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Stanley said the issues being debated at the school board meeting at which his client was arrested have been “at the forefront for parents in Loudoun County, all of Virginia and throughout the country.”

Stanley reminded the judge, “In Virginia, the Commonwealth’s Attorney is an elected official,” as is Stanley, a Republican state senator in the 20th District along the North Carolina line since 2012.

While alternately saying Biberaj had supported progressive legal-reform issues before the school board, and avoiding saying she would cast aside prosecutorial ethics in choosing to prosecute his client, Stanley said she should be removed from this case: “I have concerns about the appearance and probability that this office could affect the prosecution, when this politician comes up for re-election,” Stanley said.

Biberaj dismissed the suggestion that her charging and prosecutorial decisions were politically motivated.

“Being a prosecutor every day is a political challenge,” Biberaj said. “That’s our job — we prosecute.”

Biberaj said her decision to charge the father in this case was based upon the struggle he put up with Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputies, after balling his fist in a heated discussion with a woman at the school board meeting.

“The only interest we have is in justice,” said Biberaj, suggesting the Sheriff’s Office made the initial charging decision. “They found probable cause, and they charged it.”

Biberaj, in her argument, told Plowman, “The commonwealth’s attorney is the appropriate person to prosecute,” rather than a special prosecutor.

“If the court were to disqualify, the door opens for every other case,” said Biberaj. “And there is the potential for intimidation.”

Plowman, the former Loudoun County commonwealth’s attorney, who was appointed to the bench in 2019 after 16 years in the office Biberaj now occupies, noted that she was personally prosecuting this low-level crime, and had also prosecuted a case against Republican Del. Dave LaRock that was effectively ruled a civil matter.

“It was failure to close a gate,” specified Plowman, who was elected and re-elected four times, as a Republican, before taking a seat in the 20th Circuit, which includes Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties. “You have every right to follow a case, but it’s not lost on this court.”

Biberaj said she has not taken an active role in the politicization of culture war issues in Loudoun County, which have become a national flashpoint, and she disputed any suggestion she held personal animosity toward the father.

“No one in this office has ever expressed any animosity,” Biberaj said. “The public attention has never come from this office.”

Stanley and his client have said previously they intend to file a lawsuit for the county’s handling of the two sexual assaults, which were committed by the same student. Monday, he said the suit would be filed in the near future.

“There is a Title IX federal lawsuit that will be filed, saying the Loudoun County government violated the civil rights of his daughter,” Stanley said. “The commonwealth’s attorney will be a material witness in the Title IX case — she’ll be subject to discovery in the ‘rocket docket’ of the Eastern District of Virginia,” he predicted.

Biberaj said discussion of a suit was premature, and she would react once it was filed.

At the end of the 90-minute hearing, Plowman said he would take the matter under advisement, and release a written ruling in the near future.

A now-15-year-old was found guilty of two counts of sodomy in the May 28 incident at Stone Bridge High School and a separate incident on Oct. 6 at Broad Run High School. He will remain on supervised probation in a locked juvenile treatment facility until his 18th birthday.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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