Sexual assault victim files $30M lawsuit against Loudoun Co. school board

The family of a teenage girl who was sexually assaulted in a Loudoun County high school bathroom in 2021 — which set off a firestorm of political controversy — has now filed a $30 million civil rights lawsuit against the county school board for allegedly not following Title IX protocol.

On May 28, 2021, the girl was sexually assaulted by a male student in the bathroom of Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. The lawsuit says school officials told her and her family they were not allowed to talk about the assault nor could they locate the assailant nearly three hours after it occurred.

The teen perpetrator was found criminally responsible for 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 after he was transferred to that school. He will remain on supervised probation in a locked juvenile treatment facility until his 18th birthday.

According to court documents filed Wednesday, the victim, “Jane Doe,” now 17, claims the Loudoun County Public Schools system failed to protect her when she reported the sexual assault to leaders at the high school, who did not follow Title IX protocols.

The filing claims that the school tried to avoid reporting the assault to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and a guidance counselor refused to talk about the sexual assault at first, calling in the victim’s parents because she had been “beaten up” by a male student in the bathroom.

The lawsuit says the school only called the police when the teenage victim’s father “caused an incident at the front office,” as he became upset about the lack of law enforcement’s involvement.

The victim then filed a statement with the Sheriff’s Office and met with the Special Victims Unit, initiating a two-month investigation. The claim says that there was no safety plan in place to protect the victim when she tried to return to school on June 1, and the victim was admitted to the hospital for two weeks to treat “physical, mental, and emotional trauma she suffered because of the sexual assault.”

The court documents outline how the school district did not begin a Title IX investigation of the rape until nearly five months after the incident, and that LCPS never conducted “a threat assessment of the assailant, nor provide any support services to Jane Doe as required by Title IX.”

The plaintiff also claims that former LCPS superintendent Scott Ziegler denied that “a sexual assault had ever taken place in a bathroom in any of their schools” at a school board meeting on June 22, 2021. That statement came after he notified members of the Loudoun County School Board of the attack in an email on May 28, and the Sheriff’s Office had been conducting an investigation into the assault.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares empaneled a special grand jury to investigate the school system’s handling of the two sexual assaults, under an executive order from Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The special grand jury ended up issuing a scathing report that heavily criticized the school system’s response to the sexual assaults.

The Loudoun County School Board later voted unanimously during a closed session to fire Superintendent Scott Ziegler and he was indicted on three misdemeanor charges for misconduct.

In his first trial for those charges, Ziegler was found guilty a week ago of using his position for retaliation in his firing of a special-education teacher.

Doe’s counsel, The Stanley Law Group, claim LCPS’ failure to “take meaningful action” and protect her against retaliation from her peers, as well as remove the accused student from the school not only violated Title IX protocol, but left her vulnerable and subsequently added to her diminished emotional and physical well-being.

The lawsuit seeks $30 million in compensatory damages.

In an interview with 7News, the girl’s father said “that we hope (the lawsuit) sets precedence across the nation to protect children and hold school districts accountable.”

The father, referred to as “John Doe” in the filings was recently pardoned by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for disrupting a comment period on transgender policy at the school board meeting on June 22.

WTOP has reached out to Loudoun County Public Schools for comment on the filing and ongoing civil rights case. The school system said it does not comment publicly on pending legal matters.

Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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