LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Editor's Note: WUSA9 has chosen not to name the family of the victim referenced in this article to protect the privacy of a sexual assault victim.
A Loudoun County judge has ruled against a 15-year-old boy accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate in a school bathroom back in May, according to the county prosecutor.
According to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, detectives were made aware by school officials of an assault at Stone Bridge High School on May 28. On July 8, a teenager, who was 14 at the time, was arrested and charged with forcible sodomy.
"The judge determined the evidence presented was sufficient for a finding of guilt on both counts," said Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj.
The ruling is the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty charge.
Biberaj said the teen remains in detention, but his sentencing was continued pending the trial of a second alleged sexual assault -- which occurred in October at a different Loudoun County school -- in which he's been charged.
On Oct. 6, a female student at Broad Run High School told a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer she had been forced into a classroom, held against her will and inappropriately touched, according to LCSO detectives. A 15-year-old was arrested and charged with sexual battery and abduction on Oct. 7.
"At the conclusion of both matters, the court will determine what is the appropriate sentence for the juvenile," Biberaj said.
The law group representing the victim's family posted a statement to Facebook following the ruling, saying they were relieved and grateful for that outcome in court.
"No one should have to endure what this family has endured, and now their focus is completely upon their daughter's health and safety as she progresses forward with her life," the statement said. "The [victim] is a survivor, and a fighter, and we are confident that she will grow even stronger with each passing day."
The day after the verdict was handed down, students and staff from multiple schools in Loudoun County participated in a "walk out" in protest of how the county handled the reporting of the assault. In a post circulating on social media, organizers said the walkout was to "show solidarity to victims of sexual violence and demand safety in our schools."
WUSA9 reporter Nicole D'Antonio was at Stone Bridge High School during the walk out, where she said she witnessed a small group of several dozen students gathering outside the school around 10 a.m. Several were wearing white and many held signs to voice their support for assault victims. SKY9 captured footage from additional walk outs at LCPS schools, including Loudoun County High Schools, Briar Woods High School and Lightridge High School.
An LCPS spokesperson told D'Antonio that the walk out was planned by parents in the district, not the students.
In the months since the assaults became public knowledge, several parents took issue with the timeline between when allegations were made to school officials, and when an arrest was made in the two different assaults, as well as why the alleged suspect was allowed to transfer to another school in the county.
"I want to acknowledge that our processes and procedures were not adequate to respond to these recent events," LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler said at a press conference on Oct. 15. "It has become clear that our administrative procedures have not kept pace with the growth we have seen in our county ... Throughout these events, the Loudoun County Public Schools has complied with our obligations under Title Nine. However, we have found this process outlined under Title Nine by the US Department of Education to be insufficient in addressing issues at the K-12. level. We believe this process could be strengthened with some reforms."
Ziegler also recommended that the Loudoun County School Board add the issue to its legislative agenda, and is asking that the LCSO notify the superintendent and principal of a school when students are charged with serious offenses in the future.
"Whether or not changes occur, in the future, our division’s procedure will emphasize the safety and protection of victims," Ziegler said.
Both the LCSO and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors claim there has been misinformation circulated regarding the investigation process, as well as when and why information was shared with the public. LCPS maintains that it followed all legal reporting requirements regarding the allegations.
"The October 6, 2021 incident at Broad Run High School did not involve complex circumstances, the arrest was immediate, and the arrest was reported to the community as information released was unlikely to disclose the identity of the victim," LCSO wrote in a statement. "However, the May 28, 2021 investigation was different in that the suspect and victim were familiar with each other, the investigation was complex, and a public announcement had the potential to identify a juvenile victim."