‘An executive order is not an indictment:’ Former AG on Miyares investigation of Loudoun Co. schools

On the day he was sworn in as Virginia’s attorney general, Jason Miyares tweeted a news release that he was opening up an investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools, because, in his words, the school system “covered up a sexual assault on school grounds for political gain, leading to an additional assault of a young girl.”

Miyares launched his investigation under the authority of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order 4, which said, “The Loudoun County School Board and school administrators withheld key details and knowingly lied to parents about the assaults.”

The allegations in Miyares’ tweet — that the school system showed intent to knowingly lie or hide evidence, and for political motives — haven’t been substantiated, and sound like he’s made up his mind before the evidence is in. But former Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said the campaign-style rhetoric in those statements shouldn’t poison the investigation by Miyares’ office.

“An executive order is not a charging document,” Kilgore told WTOP. “It’s not an indictment; it’s not an information (a federal charging document) that’s going to be filed at the federal level — it’s merely giving the attorney general the authority to investigate this particular matter, and use all the resources of the state to get to the bottom of this.”

Kilgore, like Miyares a Republican, served as Miyares’ transition chief during the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, Jan. 15. Kilgore served with Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, from 2002 through 2005. Kilgore resigned from the attorney general position to run for governor, but was defeated by Democrat Tim Kaine in November 2005.

A now-15-year old was arrested last May 28 in connection with a sexual assault at Stone Bridge High School, and was transferred to Broad Run High School, where he assaulted another girl. Youngkin and Miyares successfully campaigned, in part, on the school system’s handling of the sexual assaults.

WTOP has reported Superintendent Scott Ziegler sent a brief, confidential email to school board members on May 28 — the same day the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office began investigating after a female student at Stone Bridge High School said she was sexually assaulted in a bathroom.

In the hours after being sworn in, Miyares tweeted a news release announcing investigations into LCPS and the Virginia Parole Board.


Kilgore said it should come as no surprise to any voter in Virginia that the new administration would investigate the Loudoun school system’s handling of the assaults.

Asked whether the language used by Miyares and Youngkin might raise questions about the impartiality of the investigation, Kilgore said, “I think it’s important that the facts correspond with the law here. I think the governor and the attorney general have sort of stepped back in the past few weeks to allow this investigation to continue, and continue in an unbiased fashion.”

Miyares’ Inauguration Day tweet remains on Twitter, but the news release hasn’t been added to the archives of Office of the Attorney General’s website. Communications Director Victoria LaCivita told WTOP it was because it was tweeted and emailed before she had access to the state computers.

“Y’know, policy and politics sort of intersect, in both the governor’s and the attorney general’s office,” Kilgore said. “As the attorney general, you’ve got to always be careful to not let politics overtake the professional duties you have to represent the commonwealth’s citizens, on a daily basis.”

What’s involved in the investigation

Youngkin’s executive order authorizes Miyares to investigate the Loudoun County Public Schools. However, several other county agencies, including the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, all played roles in the series of events leading up to the two sex assaults in the high schools.

“EO 4 instructs the Attorney General to ‘initiate and coordinate investigative and prosecutorial  efforts and to take such actions as he may deem appropriate in order to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth and hold accountable any individuals who have violated existing law or violated the rights of victims of crime,'” said LaCivita.

She was asked whether the AG’s investigation would be limited to the school system.

“The Attorney General’s investigation into the sexual assaults at Loudoun County Public Schools will look at every actor that played a role in the chain of events that led to a sexual assaulter being given the opportunity to attack another student on school grounds, and how parents were kept in the dark about the situation,” said LaCivita. “The purpose of the investigation is to understand what exactly happened last year and release that information to the public so that it never happens again.”

Kilgore agrees the investigation should not focus only on the school system.

“I think it’s important that the attorney general and investigators figure out a timeline for all of us,” Kilgore said. “I think it’s important to understand how the school system works with local law enforcement, and how they were working with local law enforcement.”

In his experience, “unfortunately, school systems go out of their way not to report issues to law enforcement — you don’t want the headache; you don’t want parents upset,” Kilgore said. “But when you have something this serious, it’s important to have solid practices and procedures in place that you are reporting these types of crimes to law enforcement, and that law enforcement is there to receive those reports, and acts on them.”


The Miyares investigation into the sexual assaults is being headed by Theo Stamos, a Democrat who was Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church from 2012 through 2019, when she lost the Democratic primary race to Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who is in her first term.

“He could not have gone to Central Casting and found a better prosecutor than Theo Stamos,” said Kilgore. “I know her from her prosecutorial experience in Arlington that she’s going to be fair-minded, and open-minded about the case, and that’s all you can want in a prosecutor.”

Under the authority of the executive order, Kilgore said, Miyares can use the Virginia State Police “to get in there and figure out what actually went on.”

Despite the confluence of politics and the launching of an investigation, any charges Miyares’ office might bring in connection with how the case was handled in Loudoun County would need to meet the standards in any criminal courtroom: “You still need to show willfulness for criminal violations, and then you have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.”

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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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