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Loudoun teen pleads 'no contest' to high school sexual battery that ignited political firestorm

The 15-year-old boy had been transferred to a second school after allegedly sodomizing a student in the girls' bathroom at Stone Bridge High School.

LEESBURG, Va. — A Loudoun County teen pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor sexual battery and felony abduction in a case that ignited a political firestorm and became a central talking point in the Virginia governor's race.

The 15-year-old appeared in court, his long brown hair tied back in a bun, wearing an outfit from the juvenile detention center. He looked back nervously at his family in the courtroom. 

The facts, as detailed by the prosecutor, are quite different from the narrative that's been played back in a seeming loop on conservative media.

According to Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj, no rape occurred. 

"We just want to make sure that, for the benefit of the victim, that the facts are clear," she said. "It was non-consensual touching of her chest and breast area." 

The two students were walking in a hall together, headed to his classroom, according to an account detailed to the judge by Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Barry A. Zweig. When the bell rang, Zweig said, the boy admits he forced the girl into an empty classroom and touched her in a sexual manner. The boy says it was on top of her shirt; the girl says it was under her bra.

But at angry school board meetings and in political battles, the assault was portrayed as violent rape.

"They're egregious in their differences, and that's what has been the harm to our community," Biberaj told reporters after the hearing. "People have taken the narrative and done what they want with it rather than relying on the truth."

The prosecutor says surveillance video in the hallway caught the teen looking around and then forcing the girl into the empty classroom. There was no camera in the classroom itself.

What infuriated many parents is that this was the second attack by the teen boy. 

In October, Loudoun County juvenile court Chief Judge Pamela Brooks found sufficient evidence to sustain two sodomy charges against him for an assault in a bathroom at Stone Bridge High School.

The victim in that case had allegedly had consensual sex with the boy in the bathroom at the school twice before. But when she resisted the third encounter, he allegedly forced her.

The teen only spoke once in the hearing, saying "No ma'am," when the judge asked him if he had anything he wanted to say. His family also declined to speak.

Prosecutors say there is no plea bargain. The teen decided to plead no contest without working out a deal with the Commonwealth's Attorney to try and reduce his sentence. 

"The consequences should conform to the facts of the case," Biberaj said.

The mother of the first victim spoke out Monday after the teenager's plea, saying it "vindicates" her daughter and holds the boy accountable. She’s now suing the school board and says she will not rest until every child in Loudoun schools is safe.

The father of that same victim was arrested at a rowdy school board meeting and later said that he was there for his daughter.

Investigators will now examine the teen boy's psycho-sexual and social history. Their report will help determine an appropriate sentence when he returns for disposition on Dec.13.The maximum penalty is detention in a juvenile center until he turns 21.

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