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Governor Northam speaks on Loudoun County school sexual assault allegations

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ/Stanley Law Group Release) - Governor Northam Thursday briefly spoke about a law that’s resurfacing following an incident in Loudoun County. A student is blamed for two sexual assaults at two high schools.

Parents spoke at a recent school board meeting, demanding answers and taking issue with House Bill 257.

The law that passed in 2020 doesn’t require principals to report certain misdemeanor acts to law enforcement, including sexual battery.

Governor Northam had this to say in response:

“With the law in Virginia and the way that the schools interact with the police, any type of offense like that that happens on school property is reported to the police. It was done in this case and, you know, our main goal in Virginia... we want our students, no matter who they are, no matter where they are in Virginia, we want them to be safe on the campuses of our schools or colleges and universities and our laws are able to do that,” said Northam.

The following is from information provided by the Stanley Law Group regarding court actions in this case.

Attorneys for the family of a student who reported being sexually assaulted in a girls’ restroom May 28 by a young male have announced they have filed a motion in the father’s pending criminal charges (disorderly conduct, obstruction/resistance without force) to change the venue of the trial out of Loudoun County Circuit Court, as well as a motion to remove the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Buta Biberaj, from handling the prosecution of criminal charges pending against the father. (Read both court documents below this story.)

The family has retained attorney Bill Stanley and The Stanley Law Group of Virginia to represent their daughter in her Title IX civil case against the Loudoun County School Board, as well as represent the father against “wrongful and unconstitutional” charges filed against him in Circuit Court arising out of an incident at the Loudoun County School Board meeting in June.

In the motion for a change of venue, attorney Stanley says:

“The incident has generated and continues to generate extensive and widespread publicity in the print and broadcast media. Such publicity has resulted in the dissemination of contradictory, inaccurate and inflammatory information about the Defendant and the circumstances and events of June 22, 2021… In fact, the Defendant has been accused of being a “domestic terrorist” by The National School Board Association (NSBA) in a letter to the President of the United States (dated September 29, 2021). Moreover, the Defendant’s daughter is the victim in a case currently pending in the Loudoun County Juvenile and Domestic District Court, which has also received a significant amount of publicity, both locally and nationwide. The incident has also sparked widespread public debate among local community groups, governmental agencies and the public about certain public policies adopted by the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), and the Loudoun County School Board and administration. Such public debate has generated and continues to generate extensive attention in the local print and broadcast media and has been inextricably tied to the Defendant. The inaccurate and inflammatory nature of the publicity surrounding the June 22, 2021 incident has resulted in a strong bias against the Defendant in both the mainstream media and some local community groups, and has tainted prospective jurors to such a degree that the Defendant will not be able to receive a fair trial in this jurisdiction. The detrimental impact of the bias against the Defendant is compounded by the fact that his criminal case involves the Loudoun County Public Schools, of which a significant majority of school age children in the county attend, and whose parents will be a part of the potential jury pool.”

In the Motion to recuse the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Stanley said:

“The Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Buta Biberaj, chose to handle the prosecution herself for these two misdemeanor charges [against Scott Smith at his original trial in the General District Court]. At the time of sentencing, Ms. Biberaj asked for an active jail sentence for the Defendant as part of his punishment,” apparently believing that Mr. Smith was a “domestic terrorist” who deserved jail time.

All the while, the Commonwealth’s Attorney was simultaneously prosecuting the student who raped Smith’s daughter at a Loudoun County High School. But, “despite the horrific assault upon the Defendant’s daughter, Biberaj permitted the assailant to be released from juvenile detention as the case proceeded…. As Biberaj stated publicly: ‘He appeared to be a good candidate to be put on electronic monitoring based on the information that was provided.’ Subsequent to the Defendant’s daughter’s assailant being released, it is alleged that he abducted and sexually assaulted another female student at another Loudoun County public school. This subsequent sexual assault has garnered adverse publicity for the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney. But while prosecuting Scott Smith’s daughter’s case, “Biberaj even suggested that there were two sides to the assault: ‘[W]e know what sometimes is reported initially is not then what the end result of all the facts are.’ This startling quote appears to be an intentional attempt to dimmish the credibility of the Defendant’s daughter.” Additionally, “Biberaj was also a member of “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun,” a closed Facebook group where members doxxed opponents of the school division’s work to improve racial” and LBTQ/transgender equity.

The motion further stated: “Biberaj cannot possibly be impartial in prosecuting the Defendant’s appeal, since she is directly responsible for the release of the Defendant’s daughter’s assailant and has faced significant criticism for the decision, since the assailant allegedly sexually assaulted another young lady at another school after his release. The oddity of the top prosecutor at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office personally prosecuting a misdemeanor did not go unnoticed, as it was unusual for the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney to handle a misdemeanor charge in General District Court, but for the fact that the charges against Mr. Smith had gained notoriety and had been falsely equated as an act of “domestic terrorism.”

The recusal motion concluded: “It is reasonable to believe that some of Biberaj’s biases and predispositions would be present in [Scott Smith’s criminal case] since her involvement in the release of the Defendant’s daughter’s assailant only came to light after the assault garnered nationwide media attention. Allowing Biberaj to prosecute the Defendant for charges that come as a direct result to the sexual assault would be manifestly unjust to the Defendant and inhibit his right to a fair trial.”

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