A former Loudoun County, Virginia, school counselor has pleaded guilty to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her high school students.
Ann Barrett, 43, of Ashburn, entered a guilty plea Thursday in Circuit Court to taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a custodial relationship. Barrett had been indicted on the felony count in February of this year; she was arrested in November 2021.
According to the stipulated statement of facts entered with Barrett’s plea, the inappropriate relationship happened from 2013 through 2016, while Barrett was working at Freedom High School, in South Riding.
WTOP is not identifying the student, who was a minor at the time the illegal sexual relationship began.
“After his sophomore year, the accused invited [the teen] to go to a playground in Brambleton with her and her child, because it was ‘wholesome’ and he was hanging out with the wrong crowd at the time,” according to the statement. “On one occasion, the accused invited [the teen] to eat dinner with her and her child at her home.”
The teen went shopping for groceries at Safeway, and brought them to Barrett’s home. “The accused laid down on the couch with [the teen] as they cuddled while watching television,” according to the statement of facts.
“This occurred two or three times, and then progressed to kissing,” and sexual activity. When the relationship began, the boy was 16; Barrett, 34.
While he was her student, Barrett “had given him a hall pass that would get him out of any class, at any time,” according to the stipulated facts.
The relationship continued past his 18th birthday, past graduation and through his freshman year in college, when Barrett ended it.
“In May of 2021 [Barrett’s former student] decided to discuss the relationship to ensure that it would not happen to anyone else,” according to the plea document. He confided in another former teacher at Freedom High School, who said Barrett would email her and other teachers to inform them the teen would not be in class.
After working at Freedom from August 2006 through Sept. 25, 2017, Barrett was working at Stone Hill Middle School, in Ashburn, when Loudoun County Public Schools heard the allegations and notified the county sheriff’s office.
She was placed on administrative leave May 19, 2021, and moved to suspension without pay on Nov. 9, 2021.
The principals at Freedom and Stone Hill notified their respective communities of the arrest shortly after Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office announced she had been charged.
According to the plea paperwork, the charge is a Class 6 felony in Virginia, with a maximum sentence of five years behind bars.
Barrett entered the plea without an arrangement with the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, meaning both sides can argue for an appropriate sentence when Barrett is sentenced on Dec. 15.
“My client has taken responsibility and is remorseful,” Barrett’s attorney, William Mann, told WTOP.
WTOP’s Neal Augenstein reported from Loudoun County Circuit Court.